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DLLC FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS: BEFORE AND AFTER

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​According to the Fulbright website, "the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and has provided more than 380,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns." In the last two years, several of the DLLC's current students and alumni have received Fulbright scholarships to teach English abroad. We are happy to report that we have three students who are currently on programs (or have recently returned): Amanda Abrom, Briyana Chisholm, and Jackie King. Four more of our recent alumni will be participating in a Fulbright program in the next year: Mackenzie Campbell, Natalie Medlock, Megan Pacitti, and Christian Pirhalla. Mackenzie will teach English in the small country of Andorra in the Pyrenees, while Natalie, Megan, and Christian will teach English in Brazil. As they wait to start their postings, these students have a lot they can learn from our recent Fulbright awardees who have also travelled to similar destinations to teach English. Amanda has recently returned from her Fulbright experience in Madrid, Spain. Briyanna also had the opportunity to teach English in Spain in the town of Lugo. Jackie is currently finishing her year in Caxias do Sul, Brazil. Below you will find the stories of our students who are soon to embark upon their Fulbright experiences followed by the reports of students who are finishing their time abroad.

Future Participants: Mackenzie Campbell (Honors BALLC Three Languages 2017, MALLC French 2019) Future Destination: Andorra
Mackenzie Campbell, TA for the 2019 Martinique study abroad program

Mackenzie Campbell, TA for the 2019 Martinique study abroad program

​I began studying French when I was ten years old. Motivated by new linguistic systems, I studied Italian and German in addition to French at UD as an undergraduate. A semester in Italy confirmed my passion for language and its link to culture. Now in May 2019, I have graduated from UD's MA program in French Language and Literature. My favorite part of this program has been the teaching assistantship. I began as a TA during the first year, and in the second year I solo-taught two introductory French courses. Since I always wanted to spend time living abroad after my studies, and since teaching is something I really enjoy, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship was the perfect opportunity. I applied to Andorra, the small co-principality nestled in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Andorra's national language is Catalan, but Spanish and French are widely spoken there. I will be teaching English in a secondary school outside of the capital city Andorra la Vella. I am so excited to teach in a country whose citizens have a knack for foreign language study and whose political system proves the value in international partnership (Andorra is actually headed by two princes – the president of Spain and the president of France!). Andorra's cultural hybridity reflects my own dual national and linguistic identity; my family is from English- and French-speaking parts of Canada, but I grew up outside of Boston. I am expecting living in Andorra to be very different from anything I've experienced before, but with my language background and past travel experiences, I feel prepared to deal with the challenges that arise. I expect travel to be an obstacle, as the nearest airport is a three-hour bus ride away, but this obstacle is minor in comparison to the wonderful opportunity to spend ten months in a multilingual country working as a teacher, studying Catalan and skiing in the Pyrenees!

Natalie Medlock (BA International Relations, Spanish minor 2016) Future Destination: Brazil
Natalie Medlock with her Dominican host grandmother in her Peace Corps Community

Natalie Medlock with her Dominican host grandmother in her Peace Corps Community

After spending the last three years in Chile and the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, I wanted to continue living abroad—this time in Brazil! I was recently awarded an English Teaching Assistant Fulbright for Brazil 2020. I first became interested in Brazil after taking both Intensive Portuguese for Spanish Speakers courses offered at UD. I wanted to become fluent in Portuguese and this led me to look into the Brazilian Fulbright Program. I also applied to Brazil due to its diverse culture, history, and for the nature of the program.

Although I have lived in other countries before, I anticipate that Brazil will be an entirely different experience. I will be working in a university in a metropolitan city—a huge change from my small rural village in the Peace Corps. I am excited to engage in discussions with other university students about the similar political climates of the United States and Brazil. I'm also excited to form new relationships with Brazilians and Americans alike. I know how beneficial living in a foreign culture can be and can't wait to explore the vast, beautiful country that is Brazil.

Megan Pacitti (BA Global Studies, Linguistics, BALLC Spanish 2019) Future Destination: Brazil
Megan Pacitti at Parc Güell in Barcelona, Spain

Megan Pacitti at Parc Güell in Barcelona, Spain

I learned about the Fulbright program when I came into the University of Delaware as an overwhelmed and confused freshman, and I was immediately captivated. I was set on it. I had a new unattainable goal for myself! At the time, I wasn't even sure what I wanted to study, and I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, but after hearing from scholars who had completed Fulbrights abroad, I was in awe of their accomplishments.

Time passed at UD, and along the way I learned a lot about myself and my own interests. I loved my course of study, Linguistics and Spanish, and learning about other cultures and their languages. Doing two studies abroad opened my eyes to opportunities for life after graduation. I returned to campus after spending a semester in Barcelona and the prospect of applying to Fulbright reappeared—I  needed to go back abroad, to join a new community, integrate myself into another culture and learn as much as I could. Brazil called to me, and I knew that I wanted to go abroad after graduation to teach English, so the ETA program was perfect. I had fallen in love with learning languages, and I wanted to share that passion with students, and help them like I had been benefited by learning languages from the many passionate native speakers who taught me their own.

I leave for Brazil in February of next year. There are still so many unknowns and uncertainties, but I'm embracing them and looking forward to this incredible opportunity, challenges and all. It's amazing to think about where I'll be and what I'll be doing another year from now, and all the things the future holds. Até logo e muito obrigada Universidade de Delaware!

Christian Pirhalla (BALLC Spanish 2018) Future Destination: Brazil
Christian Pirhalla at UD

Christian Pirhalla at UD

In my fourth year of college, I was talking with one of my professors, Dr. Cynthia Schmidt-Cruz, about what I was going to do after graduation. I had a few options in mind—graduate school, trying to start a career in translation/interpretation, and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Dr. Schmidt-Cruz suggested that I apply for the Fulbright ETA program, and I'm very thankful that she did, as I knew next to nothing about the program before she mentioned it to me. After looking into it, I knew that becoming a Fulbright ETA would be an incredible opportunity for me no matter what I decided to do afterwards. Teachers in the TEFL field often have to spend extended periods of time away from home in foreign countries. This entails immersion in different languages, unfamiliar cultures, and standards of living that may vary from life back home. The longest I'd ever been away from home was one month, so I was looking forward to pushing my limits with the nine-month duration of the program. I had my eyes on a handful of potential host countries like Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Uruguay. Ultimately, I decided to apply to Brazil. All of the placements in Brazil are in universities, and adults are my preferred demographic as far as teaching goes, so it seemed like a great match. In addition to that, I'd never had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a Portuguese speaking country, so I was eager to do so in order to bolster my language skills.

I'm looking forward to the professional experience that I'll gain as a Fulbright ETA and the personal experience of exploring Brazil and living in a completely different environment than what I'm accustomed to. I'm sure that every day will be a challenge, but I'm genuinely excited for the growth that will come as a result of that. 

Current Participants: Amanda Abrom (Honors BA English, Economics 2016) Madrid, Spain
Amanda Abrom speaking at the UN Conference on Trade and Development as a Youth Delegate at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Amanda Abrom speaking at the UN Conference on Trade and Development as a Youth Delegate at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Last summer, I boarded a plane and began my adventure as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain. Upon hearing the swift click of the passport stamp, I was ready to begin my year as an English Teaching Assistant in Madrid. All Fulbright ETAs in Madrid are placed as English conversation assistants in high schools in Spain. My high school was located about an hour outside of central Madrid and had students from Primero de la ESO to Bachillerato—the equivalent of 7th –12th grade. For the past year, I've taught everything from geography, to history, to music! We hosted English immersion days, spelling bees, and other fun activities to get students speaking English. Adjusting to a different work environment and a new pedagogical tradition was difficult as first, but I saw it as all a part of my Fulbright experience.

In October, I launched the Global Classrooms Model UN Program at my host school to encourage public speaking and debate on world issues. My students have debated the topics: "Violence Against Women," "Standards for Green Economies," and "the Rohingya Refugee Crisis." I loved leading thought-provoking sessions with students and helping them develop collaborative resolutions to solve these issues with other delegations. Some of the students who participated were interviewed in the local paper after winning Best Delegation in Spain's competition against 113 other schools. Then, due to my coaching, one of my students beat out 1,300 others to represent Spain in the International Model UN Competition in NYC. This program was transformational for my students, and solidified my passion to continue working on international education initiatives. So in the greater community in Spain, I volunteered with UNICEF, raising money for clean water and sanitation projects for schools in Niger. These community events were great opportunities to practice Spanish and talk to people from many educational centers about their programs.

Living in Europe also had its advantages and gave me the ability to travel. Last fall, I became a UN Conference on Trade and Development Youth Delegate and attended the World Investment Forum 2018 where I co-presented at the UN headquarters to 300 young leaders. I stay actively involved, mobilizing others to prioritize issues related to trade, the workforce, and the future of youth employment. Additionally, as a Global Schools Ambassador for UN Youth, I presented on a panel titled "Education and Expertise for the Sustainable Development Goals" at the Vatican Youth Symposium in Vatican City. Unfortunately, I didn't meet the Pope!

This year I've challenged my world-perspective and engaged with students and young leaders who share similar goals to combat socioeconomic and environmental problems. Being a Fulbright Scholar has taught me the value and importance of being a cultural ambassador not only abroad, but in my own country. Upon returning to the US next year, I'll be pursuing my Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University where it will be my mission to share Spain's culture with the United States.

I encourage everyone to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship! It is a once in a lifetime experience to learn another culture, language, and undergo personal growth. I'm so grateful to the University of Delaware and the Honors Program for guiding me every step of the way and helping me attain this prestigious opportunity!   

Briyana Chisholm (BS Medical Diagnostics, Spanish for Healthcare minor 2018) Lugo, Spain
Briyana Chisholm visiting Navia, Spain

Briyana Chisholm visiting Navia, Spain

When I learned that I would be spending the next year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Lugo, Spain, I was ecstatic. Memories of Flamenco shows, Spanish tortilla, and sangria came flooding back to me as I nostalgically remembered my 2016 winter study abroad experiences in Toledo, Madrid, and Barcelona.

On September 3, 2018, I landed in the Santiago de Compostela airport in Galicia, Spain. Aside from it being one of the seventeen autonomous communities, I knew little about this region. It didn't take long for me to realize however, that my dreams of sipping sangria under the bright Spanish sun would not match my reality.

This reality started to hit during my first visit to Fonte do Rei, a local restaurant in Lugo. I walked in and in my rusty castellano, asked for a table. The waitress responded to my request, but I had no idea what she said. After a moment of processing, I realized she was speaking Galician, one of the native languages. After noticing that I was confused, she switched to castellano. When I got my hand on a menu, I just as quickly pulled out my translator app. The first dish I translated was pulpo al ajillo (octopus in garlic). To my dismay, the food units I studied in previous Spanish classes had not prepared me for Galician cuisine.

The new cuisine however was one of the many features of Galician culture I had to get used to. After a few weeks of feeling discouraged by my difficulty integrating, I decided that I needed a different approach. If I was going to live 4,000 miles outside of my comfort zone, I would do it right. Instead of taking the bus, I started using Blablacar, a carpool app that encourages carbon footprint reduction and small talk with friendly strangers. I also started taking Taekwondo, Galician classes, and, with the help from some of my fellow teachers, started a cheerleading team. Eventually, the unfamiliar began to feel a lot more like home as I started building new relationships and learning more about myself and the world around me.

The classroom, ironically, has been where I've done most of my learning. The dynamic of my classes allows me not only to teach English related to my student's vocations, but also touch on differences between the United States and Spain, while discussing social issues including climate change, gun laws, gender violence, and immigration. I have enjoyed sharing my perspectives and passions with my students and equally have enjoyed being enlightened by their perspectives and opinions.

The natural beauty, variety of octopus dishes, and even the immense amounts of rain are some of the features of Galicia that I have grown to love. I feel comfort in knowing that when I head back to the states at the end of June, I don't have to say goodbye for good; because Galicia is now my second home, and everybody always finds their way back home.

Jackie King (Honors BS Neuroscience, Honors BALLC Spanish 2018) Caxias do Sul, Brazil
Jackie King in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil facing Sugarloaf

Jackie King in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil facing Sugarloaf

I've been asked a lot of questions during the past three months. The most common question has been "Why are you in Caxias?" followed by laughter.

I was placed in Caxias do Sul, Brazil for my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship starting in February. Although I have traveled to Brazil twice, Caxias is different from the Brazil I knew. During two study abroad programs (once as a student, once as a teaching assistant) with Dr. Sue Barton of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, I explored the Amazon rainforest and Rio de Janeiro—two iconic, world-famous destinations.

This time I am living in a small southern city that is equally Brazilian, though far less internationally recognized. The city's most famous event is the Festa da uva, a festival celebrating the region's proud Italian heritage and grape and wine production. In Caxias you are more likely to find pasta than acai. The winters are not quite as cold as Newark, Delaware, but they are humid and lacking indoor heating.

The bulk of my work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) here happens after 7:00 PM. My host institution, the Universidade do Caxias do Sul (UCS), holds classes at night because the majority of students work during the day and travel from another city to attend class. Three nights per week, I am in the classroom. The other two nights, I tutor and hold writing workshops at the newly opened English Writing Center at UCS.

Outside of my duties as an English Teaching Assistant, I have side projects. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I shadow a variety of specialists at a clinic that provides check-ups and collects research data on children who were born premature. I also have a clinical research internship where, this past week, I sat and chatted with patients who were receiving a study drug and chemotherapy. While these activities relate to my career goals, they also support the primary goal of my Fulbright year—to learn Portuguese.

My motivation for learning different languages is intimately connected to my goal of becoming a doctor. Next year, after I return to the United States, I'll be starting medical school at Sidney Kimmel Medical College. A common language is essential for communication—but speaking in a patient's native language speaks to another level of understanding and trust. As Nelson Mandela said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." Seeking medical care can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, and I want to connect with and comfort my future patients during these times. For that, I will thank Caxias.

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Fall 2018 Polyglot
  • Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
  • Jastak-Burgess Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • 30 East Main St.
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-2591
  • dllc-academics@udel.edu