Monday, March 13, 2017

I'm Going on an Adventure!

Now that you know what the Fulbright Program is, I can tell you about my Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant and what I know so far about my upcoming stay in Argentina.

 To start off, I will give you a little background information about myself. I recently completed a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and I'm in the final stage of completing my M.S.Ed. in Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Language, Culture and Education. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work as a Graduate Assistant at Western Illinois University and a Campus Assistant at Spoon River College Office of Community Outreach.

Both work places have provided me with valuable experience in higher education, however, I have not yet had the opportunity to work in an university-level ESL classroom. I have tutored ESL students from WIU during my time as a grad student, which has intensified my desire to work in an adult ESL program one day.  During my master's degree program I decided that I needed to gain experience in an university-level ESL classroom in order to prepare for my future as an ESL instructor.

The Fulbright Program was one I had looked into when I was an undergrad who was always looking for a way to continue travelling/studying abroad. However, I did not consider applying to it until my study abroad adviser (who is also a Fulbright adviser) reached out to me and said she thought it would be a good program for my educational and career goals. I studied abroad multiple times as an undegraduate, so naturally I was inclined to take a closer look and see what kind of experience this  program might be able to offer.

After months of preparing my application material (essays, references, short-response questions) and having coworkers, professors, and staff review it, I submitted my Fulbright application online. I chose Argentina specifically for two reasons. 1.) ETAs in Argentina are assigned to work at Teacher Colleges with undergraduate students and 2.) I was supposed to study abroad in Argentina a few years back with a WIU group, however, the trip was cancelled due to low enrollment and I have been wanting to go there ever since. I submitted my application in October 2015 and found out I had been chosen as a Fulbright recipient in March 2016. It was a long waiting process but definitely worth following through.

 In November 2016 I finally found out where I would be living in Argentina. I have been placed in the city of San Luis, which is in the central part of the country. I will be working at the Instituto de FormaciĆ³n Docente Continua (IFDC) which is a school for undergrad students studying to be English Teachers. I do not know what teacher or class I will be assisting in, so I am excited/anxious to find that out when I arrive! I also do not have a for sure place to live yet...but hey, half the fun is knowing things will work out one way or another!

 As I type this, I am currently waiting for my flight to take off to Buenos Aires. I have four days of orientation and training before I head to San Luis. This will give me a chance to explore the wonders Buenos Aires has to offer, meet the other Fulbrighters, and meet up with my Chilean sister who I have not seen in three years!

 I will miss my loved ones back in the US, especially my husband and son, but I am staying positive because I know that this will be an experience of a lifetime.  

 As Bilbo Baggins so fittingly put it, "I'm going on an adventure!"

Besos y abrazos,

Katy

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