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Black History Month

U.S. Fulbright

Learning about Home—from Abroad

February 16, 2016
Brandon Tensley

Brandon Tensley (far right), 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany, with one of his fifth grade classes at Realschule Stadtmitte in Mülheim an der Ruhr

In honor of Black History Month, we are re-posting Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany Brandon Tensley’s article, in which he describes what it was like being a black American teaching English in a German primary school while also encouraging fellow black students to study abroad and “tell America’s story” of diversity from the unique perspective that only living in another country can provide.

Most of the time, I’d hear them before I’d see them.

“Are you the teacher from America?”

I’d spin around, and there’d be a knot of students, their shyness trumped by their curiosity, hungry to confirm the rumor floating around about an Ausländer—foreigner—on campus.

“That’s me,” I’d say, laughing. “And who are you?”

But they’d rarely be interested in talking. A moment later, I’d have about a dozen tiny fists, clutching bits of paper, waving in my face.

“Your autograph!” they’d demand. I’d comply, and they’d make off with their new bounty.

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