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Foreign Fulbright

Fulbright Crossing Paths

February 14, 2017

Being a Fulbrighter will always be an important part of my life. The opportunity to study and immerse myself in a culture abroad opens your horizons and makes you grow in every way. Even still, I never imagined that Fulbright would have an impact on my life in an even more profound way. I am from El Salvador, and in 2011, I was awarded a Fulbright grant to pursue a master’s in tourism at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, I returned to El Salvador, but soon after, I was offered a job with an international organization based in Washington, DC.

During my Fulbright, I was involved in Fulbright-specific networking opportunities such as gateway orientations, enrichment seminars and the Fulbright Association Chapter events. I made a lot of friends through these events and I have visited them both in the United States and around the world whenever I have the chance.

New to the DC area, I joined the Fulbright Association National Capital Area Chapter. In November 2014, I attended one of the chapter events: an open house reception at the Goethe-Institut. There is where I met Martin. Martin was at that time a visiting researcher on a Fulbright grant from Denmark, doing a one-year research project at the National Institutes of Health. During our first conversation, I recognized the same spark in his eyes when we talked about our dreams, passions and careers. Despite being from very different countries and cultures that speak different languages, have different professional opportunities and different social norms, we found in each other a partner with the same values, goals and dreams.

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Foreign Fulbright

Fulbright: A Love Story

February 14, 2016
Mariana and Tobi

Fulbrighters Tobi and Mariana

Our Fulbright Programs started with a Fulbright Gateway Orientation. As with any event these days, there was a Facebook group so that grantees could meet and find people who were going to our same host university. Tobi and I met there. We were both going to be studying at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and we started talking online. It was great to meet someone who was going through the same things as I was, and it was comforting to know that I would already have a friend in the city that would be home for the next two years.

August 20, 2012 came fast. It was the day I was to fly from Mexico City to Jackson, Mississippi for my Fulbright Gateway Orientation. It was an exciting time, and I was thrilled to meet so many other grantees. Tobi and I met after the first orientation session, when everyone was just standing around meeting new people. Suddenly, he came up to me and said, “You’re Mariana.” I remember thinking to myself that I really liked him when we went to a Mexican restaurant later and he asked me what to order. I suggested a popular beer cocktail called a Michelada. I didn’t think he would like it because Germans have a specific way they like their beer and that is with, well, just beer. This cocktail had everything from lime juice to hot sauce—he liked it. Success!

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