“Fostering leadership, learning and empathy between cultures was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program.” – Senator J. William Fulbright

During my months here I´ve fielded many questions about what, exactly, am I doing here?  Sometimes I use the word boss to describe the coordinator of the reforestation project I´ve been working with, sometimes I use the same word for the director of SosteNica, my contact back in the states who helped me tremendously to put together my grant application. I use the words work and salary, but the truth is that those words reflect how I have chosen to structure my time here, and don´t come from any higher authority.

The correct answer when people ask me outright is that I have a grant to do an independant study.   The complete answer is that I have a special grant from the U.S. government to do an independant study in a specific topic that is relevant to my career aspirations.   If I give the full answer, I often end up explaining….

NO, I do not work for the U.S. government, nor do I hold ANY responsibility in promoting the political agenda of my country here in Nicaragua.  My job is to be a responsible and respectful participant in Nicaraguan culture.  I represent my culture (which, the U.S. being the giant melting pot that it is, may not be at all  similar to the culture that another American represents), not my goverment specifically nor the interests of any special party within or outside of the government.

No, I am not currently a student, although this grant is available to current grad students.  I am hoping that this independant project helps get me into a good grad program sometime in the future, but I haven´t gotten that far yet.  I´ll keep posting.

Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.” – Senator J. William Fulbright, 1983.

I do have the responsibility of bringing my experiences here back to the U.S., sharing them with my community, and integrating them into my future work.   They should event influence my interactions or work with people of other countries who I meet in the future.  That will be a snap.  No prob.

And the truth is, I am my own boss here.  I set the rules.  As long as I communicate responsibly with all my host institutions, if I decide to leave during the week to visit a farm that is not within the reforestation project, or attend a cultural event in another city, I can do that.  Fulbright offers a blissfull freedom by stressing cultural understanding above everything else.  Because, honestly (and as I wrote about in the last enty), there aren´t very many things I do here that don´t help me understand this culture!

As the deadline nears, good luck to all of this years Fulbright applicants!

The Nicaraguan cultural ritual of push-starting trucks with dead batteries using the help of all the kids in the tiny rural village where you are stranded.

The Nicaraguan cultural ritual of push-starting trucks with dead batteries using the help of all the kids in the tiny rural village where you are stranded.

Advertisements