In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.
Where do you consider your home? What are important parts of your home? Can your home change? When I was a kid, I had very clear answers to these questions. My home was 760 Crestwood. It was the brick house with a pine tree out front, my room inside with my stuffed animals and the people who lived there—my family! However, over time my understanding of my “home” changed. First, it changed when my parents divorced and then I had two homes and eventually two great families. It also changed when I decided to go to university over 1,000 miles away from Arizona. But even when my address changed and new people surrounded me, I always felt at home because I always had a community. What is a community? It can mean lots of things, but for me it means being surrounded by people who truly care about you, whether family, friends, teachers, coworkers or roommates.
Until I moved to Germany on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, my community always sprung from either my family or my school. However, when I arrived in Germany, I felt for the first time that I was very alone. I did not know anyone my city, all my coworkers seemed to already have their own friends and, on top of that, I was having a hard time speaking German. It’s much harder to make friends when you are not comfortable speaking their language!