Back in 2012, Fulbright introduced me to people from 33 countries on the first day I arrived at Drexel University to attend my pre-academic program. From day one of my grant, I also realized that not everyone knew where my country was on a map. Every time I introduced myself: “I’m Felismina, from Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor.” I got the same type of reaction: “Is that in South America?” “Is that a country?” “What? Istanbul?” “How do you spell it?” And so on.
They say first impressions count, so I decided to act as a cultural ambassador to share knowledge with everyone I met during my grant about my little island.
My Fulbright host institution was Montclair State University in New Jersey, where I pursued a master’s degree in applied linguistics. Coming from a multilingual community, I conducted research on the influence of home language (L1) on school language (L2) in elementary school children.