This year, Fulbrighters from the United States and all over the world made breakthrough discoveries and created lasting connections. Take a look back at this year’s highlights in the 2017 Fulbright Year in Review.
Editor’s note: Did you celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States or abroad this year as a Fulbrighter? We’d love to hear your story! Send us a note or share it on social media with #Fulbright.
A Bangladeshi, an Italian, a Thai, an Indian, an elderly Filipino couple, and three Vietnamese people sat down for dinner at a Vietnamese-American house. This may sound like the start of a clichéd joke, but this was exactly what my first-ever Thanksgiving feast looked like.
This year, thanks to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA), I had the opportunity to be in the United States for this one-of-a-kind celebration. I had heard and learned about Thanksgiving through the Internet over the years, and I grew up looking at sumptuous Thanksgiving meal illustrations in Archie comics; where the biggest, juiciest turkey and other mouthwatering foods were served.
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My Fulbright journey began with one distinct moment: My first Arabic class in 2009 where Tunisian Fulbrighter Beligh Ben Taleb, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA), taught me my Alif–Baa–Taas (or my Arabic ABCs) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. It was Beligh’s first trip to the United States, first Ramadan in a non-Muslim country, and first American teaching experience. He would set a high bar for all the other Fulbright FLTAs to follow at the University.
I remember the class vividly, full of heritage speakers, curious students who wanted to work in government, and a few looking for a challenging language. Beligh took teaching Arabic in stride and encouraged us to participate in cultural activities by cooking traditional Arab meals, helping us translate songs, and dressing us up in Tunisian clothes. Aside from learning how to introduce ourselves, the most memorable phrase I remember Beligh teaching me was: “I ride horses.”
In the summer of 2010, I took my first trip to Morocco to study Arabic and French. I stayed with a horse training family, which would lead me to my graduate research in anthropology. While learning Modern Standard Arabic, my host family immersed me in Moroccan dialect and culture–specifically their horse culture. I also met the incoming Fulbright FLTA assigned to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Othmane Zakaria. He was born and raised in the city of Meknes where I was staying for the summer. We shared tidbits about our cultures, and I warned him to buy his winter coat in the States because Nebraska winters were not like winters in Morocco.