Returning to Romania was like returning home, it was like experiencing the place for the first time from a fresh angle. I am an alumna of University of Bucharest, and returning there in 2019 fits very well with the focus on my Fulbright project – to bring global and intercultural perspectives into the teaching of American Studies. During my time at the University of Bucharest, I strove to translate to students my dual experience straddling two cultures—academic and otherwise. One of the most memorable points of my semester was an assignment developed together with a colleague at my home university. We paired up my students at University of Bucharest with students at Miami University in Ohio, who were studying a similar American Studies class. Using different online platforms, the American and Romanian students interviewed each other and wrote about their findings, reflecting on the differences, but also the surprising commonalities they discovered.
The other meaningful moment was a workshop on student-centered teaching methods which I co-organized together with another Fulbright fellow from the University of Sibiu. The workshop was a wonder of remote work, complete with phone conversations on the train, an insanely productive meeting with Woden over coffee in a Starbucks café in Timisoara, in-between panels at a conference, and a final trip to Craiova where we successfully hosted the day-long event.
The memories of my Fulbright semester are a whirlwind of colors and sensations: the whimsical architecture of Bucharest streets—familiar, yet also very much changed—the smell of coffee in Old Town, the bustle of the Gara de Nord railway station and its trains—in which I somehow spent an inordinate amount of time—the outlines of the mountains in Brasov, the arches of greenery of Rose Park in Timisoara, and the salty bitter taste of the Black Sea on a scorching hot weekend in June. It was a semester packed with intellectual activity, travel, and cultural explorations: I did research in the Romanian Film Archives, participated in conferences in Bucharest and Timișoara, visited castles in Transylvania, and gave talks for the American Corner programs of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.
The professional highlights of my stay were reconnecting with old colleagues and making new contacts, tapping into the intellectual energy of the local English and American Studies scholars, discovering the amazing breath of their research projects underway, and brainstorming future collaborations. The personal highlights were being able to see my son attend a Romanian public school and become proficient in Romanian, and to experience his wonder at visiting Romanian historical places.
Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy – Fulbright to Romania 2019