I got my first real taste of international exchange during my final year of university where I studied in Beijing, China, and later on, got my first experience of teaching in Kunming, China, where I worked in an elementary orphanage. After that, I knew I wanted to work in education. After working for a few years as an English teacher in the USA, I applied for a Fulbright to Portugal, having first been captivated by the country while completing my Master’s Residencies in Lisbon. During my Fulbright, I was an ETA; however, a large portion of my time was spent creating a community engagement project, as well as advising college students, both local and international, about study abroad programs in the USA and throughout Europe (Fulbright Student Awards, SUSI Scholarships, and the Erasmus Program).
My engagement project was called “Pessoas of Portugal” and was inspired by “Humans of New York.” I worked with students to travel around Portugal interviewing various people to record their stories both online and in a print magazine. My students and I got to travel around Portugal and Europe presenting this project, and I was also able to share it at the Fulbright Annual Conference in Puebla, Mexico, as a guest presenter.
After my Fulbright was over, I was so inspired that I took on a career change. Previously a teacher, I decided to become a university counselor abroad in order to continue pushing the value of cultural exchange and exploring all this world has to offer through study abroad programs. I’ve spent the last two years in Vietnam where I work with both local Vietnamese students as well as other international students advising them on various programs available to them globally, and planning international college fairs for them to speak with universities from around the world (both in person and virtually due to the pandemic). Next year I will be moving to the UAE to help students in a brand new region. So, from the USA, to Asia, to Europe, and now to the Middle East, Fulbright has inspired me to continue cultural exchange one interaction at a time. I can’t wait to keep it going and I am so thankful for my experience and where it has taken me.
Phillip Wenturine – Fulbright to Portugal 2016