Fulbright ETA to Argentina, 2016–2017
My Fulbright experience was simultaneously challenging and rewarding, frustrating and exhilarating, confusing and enlightening. Being an outsider in many ways provides a myriad of opportunities to come out of your comfort zone, improve your language skills, and meet new and interesting people, but it also provides ample moments for self-reflection. Part of the reason I chose to be an ETA in Argentina was the ability to decide what to do with my time outside of teaching. This is when I really began to learn the most valuable ways I could contribute to my host community and how those experiences could help me grow personally and professionally. I tapped into my interests in sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation by volunteering on the campus organic farm and assisting at their monthly ferias, or markets where they sold farm produce and artisan goods.
I also collaborated with the international exchange students at the university to combine multiple cultures in many activities and events around food, music, and storytelling. These events further sparked ideas for how I could bring my classes together and collaborate with other teachers and students. The product was an intergenerational exchange where some students from my university classes met the senior citizens from my extension class, who were all retired teachers. The university students asked the seniors questions to tap into their years of learning and teaching English, and took away practical advice that they can use for lifelong learning. Such interactions outside of the classroom inspired me to create and facilitate more experiential activities in the classroom, which is now propelling me into a future career focused on environmental and experiential education.