During a social gathering back in 2004, I heard about the Fulbright Scholarship for the first time. At that time, I was a dental faculty member in my home country, Venezuela, conducting clinical research and providing dental care to people living with HIV. The thought of becoming a Fulbrighter didn’t occur to me, despite my previous academic achievements. This is mainly because I was a young mother and mistakenly assumed I was less competitive for any scholarship that implied moving abroad with family, adapting to a new culture, and learning a different language.
However in 2005, I became a Fulbright Scholar and landed in the United States with two suitcases filled with enthusiasm to pursue a doctorate in Public Health. Having the extraordinary opportunity to be exposed not only to the US culture but to the languages and beliefs of people from nationalities all over the world made the experience much more thrilling. No matter what part of the world we come from, fundamentally, we humans are not that different after all. The diversity awareness and cross-cultural sensitivity I gained as a Fulbrighter in the US has echoed through everything I do as a public health researcher working on improving vulnerable populations’ quality of life. Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever think the Fulbright experience would have the biggest impact on shaping not only my professional career but my personal life.
Irene Tami-Maury – Fulbright to USA 2005-2007