In 2011, my husband and I were ecstatic to find out that I was selected as one of thirty Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) to Brazil for the 2012-2013 academic year. We spent an incredible ten months in Ilhéus, Bahía, teaching English, giving cultural presentations and volunteering in the community. I was even more excited to learn that I was chosen to be one of ten Fulbrighters asked to return to Brazil the following year to serve as mentors as the Brazilian Fulbright ETA program expanded from thirty to one hundred and twenty grantees. We were relocated to the north of the country and spent another challenging and fascinating ten months in Belém, Pará, right at the edge of the Amazon.
Though I have plenty of stories and experiences to share about my time as a Fulbright ETA, what I would like to highlight are the amazing opportunities that I’ve had because of my Fulbright experience, along with how valuable it is to stay connected to the U.S. Department of State’s and the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) alumni communities after the grant period ends. Some of the many advantages include having stories to share in interviews and applications, increased chances for professional development and volunteering, networking and internships.