Anna Rushton, 2013-2014, Rwanda, at a pottery cooperative in Kigali she visited regularly for her research project. Often the employees’ children would come to the cooperative while their parents worked. In return for letting Anna interview them, she taught their school-aged children and some adults conversational English once a week.
When I found out that I was selected for a Fulbright grant to conduct my thesis research in Rwanda in 2013, I was beyond elated. I had studied the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website, solicited feedback from professors, and put forth my best effort into the application. Realizing that I had achieved my goal was an incredible feeling, but I was also terrified. In a few short months, I would be moving to Rwanda with my then nine-year-old daughter. I was not a typical Fulbrighter: I was a single mother who worked full-time through graduate school in order to make ends meet. I would have to quit my job and uproot my child to make this momentous move. I had been to Rwanda before by myself, so I had an idea of what to expect, but bringing a child would be a whole new experience.
I began planning immediately. Online resources were scarce, so I relied on contacts I had made on my last visit and a website designed for the Kigali expat community. I chose an international school for my daughter to attend, researched health insurance options, and hoped to secure a place to live shortly after we arrived. I made sure to talk with my daughter at length about what she could expect for our year in Africa. Bringing your family abroad, whether a child or a spouse, requires a great deal of planning and forethought.
Jonathan Remple, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Rwanda, at the base of the Virunga Volcano Range in Musanze, Rwanda
Before college, I never would have imagined that I would someday become a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I knew the highly competitive nature of the Fulbright Program, and was initially intimidated, but its central focus on cultural exchange meshed well with my aspirations and compelled me to apply. Once in college, I reached out to my on-campus Fulbright Program Adviser, who was extremely encouraging and helpful in guiding me successfully through the process. After a fantastic year of learning in Rwanda, I’m grateful I did so.
My Fulbright experience was particularly unique because the U.S. Department of State partnered with Peace Corps, allowing me to train for six weeks alongside Peace Corps Volunteers in rigorous language instruction, cultural immersion courses, and teaching methods. From the onset of the program, my goal was to live as close to the earth and the community as possible, focusing my efforts on cultural awareness and exchange. For me, nothing meant more than embracing Rwanda’s native tongue, Kinyarwanda.