Austin College taught me to think about my community and how I could affect change to make society more equitable. My Fulbright Teaching Fellowship to Colombia taught me to think about my global community and the impact I could have on it. Without AC, Fulbright never would have been on my radar. Between my JanTerm in Cuba and my study abroad in Chile, I learned how to be a traveler in Latin American countries without being an obnoxious tourist. I learned how to appreciate culture not appropriate it.
Each experience I had prepared me to be a Teaching Fellow in a different way. Whether it was the classroom management and lesson planning of the ATP, living in the Language house, or participating in different service opportunities, I felt prepared to teach and provide a compassionate, honest, and quality education. What I took with me was an idea that I wasn’t going to save anyone but merely to offer experience based on what my future students actually wanted to learn, similar to the education I received from AC.
Living and working in Cali, Colombia forced an independence and self-reliance that I never knew I had. It put me in charge of university students that both humbled and inspired me. My students asked hard questions, they taught as much as they learned, and they showed me what it truly meant to be Colombian. My eyes were forced open about social inequity throughout Latin America and its root causes. When my students shut down their university to protest closing the local hospital, I realized the depth of impact one can have through education.
When I returned to the United States, I was able to embody the ideas that I had seen, in my own classroom. It truly prepared me to walk into a classroom of immigrants and understand not only the journey they took to arrive at my school but the reasons behind it. Without my Fulbright experience, I would not be the teacher I am today.