“When you get the chance, go out there and explore the world.” This was the advice that Morgan Newman (Fulbright English Teaching Assistant [ETA] Cyprus 2019-2020), gave through the screen to a packed room of 11th graders. Morgan, along with fellow Fulbrighters Dr. Jonathan Freeman (Researcher in South Africa 2016-2017), Vanessa Diaz (ETA Jordan 2016-2017), and Brittany Grady (ETA Germany 2018-2019) participated in a virtual panel discussion, sharing their overseas experiences with over 90 students from the Intrinsic School, a Public Charter school in Chicago.
It was part of the Fulbright Association’s “Fulbright in the Classroom” (FIC) initiative, where alumni across the nation encourage students from diverse backgrounds to consider applying for Fulbright later on in their academic journey. When Intrinsic School Principal Ms. Tiara Jordan heard about hosting an FIC event, she was “super excited about this opportunity for my scholars.”
During the one-hour virtual discussion via Zoom, each panelist described what life was like living abroad. Jonathan explained that through his research he found many similarities in the way race is perceived in the United States and South Africa. Vanessa showed vivid photos of her time teaching nearly 300 sweet and lively students in Jordan, and breathtaking vistas of the country’s almost “Martian” terrain. Brittany detailed the meaningful cultural connections she forged with German locals, and the challenges Fulbrighters with disabilities faced navigating Hamburg’s cobblestone streets.
Fulbright had such an impact on these panelists that each of them founded or joined a Fulbright Affinity Group: Morgan leads Fulbright Noir for Black Fulbrighters; Jonathan, Fulbright HBCU; Vanessa, Fulbright Latinx,]; and Brittany, Fulbright Access for alumni with disabilities. The rapt audience also heard about how their Fulbright experiences ultimately catapulted their professional journey: Morgan is an MA Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University; Jonathan is an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Baltimore; Vanessa is a Marketing Coordinator at The Center, an LBGTQ community center; and Brittany is studying to get her Master’s at Harvard Divinity School.
During the lively discussion, students peppered them with questions about living abroad, from the cost of housing to which programs and skills they should learn now to be competitive Fulbright applicants in the future. One student asked them what other countries they’d like to see next. “I want to go to South America,” Morgan chuckled. “I want to hit up all seven wonders of the world.”