|Wishing you lots of luck in Brazil, Amanda!|
I love hearing from former students. Their stories inspire me, and I also think they are role models for current students.
Amanda White sent an e-mail this morning about her upcoming stint as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Brazil. It's important to see how she got to this point.
- She studied abroad on our year-long program to Barcelona.
- She took "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish and Entrepreneurship" with me--doing her community service learning work with full dedication.
- She went to Spain as a Fulbright ETA. I wrote a letter for her, and in her letter I was able to give very specific examples of how she would make an ideal ETA in Spain because I had seen her in action in the community service learning courses. In other words, my examples went beyond the normal comments about her classroom academic abilities.
- She worked with a career coach (I'm not sure about the details) upon her return to the US. She was looking for ways in which she could pull together her talents, interests and experiences in the best way. (Of course, I have to give a plug here to DarcyLear.com, where you can find career coaching blog posts that are targeted specifically to language students and use Darcy's services one-on-one.)
- She studied Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese--a wonderful and useful combination.
The message behind these bullet points is this:
While you are still in college, take advantage of all the unique opportunities that will set you apart after you graduate.
Here's Amanda's message:
Oi a todos!
(I love the Portuguese word oi for hi)
I hope this e-mail finds you well! I've been slowly sharing the news about my placement in Brazil and thought I'd finally make it official. My next home away from home will be the city of Uberlândia.
Yes, it's a real place. The name means "fertile land." It's actually funny how I was placed there. Well, I think it's funny.
Unexpectedly the Fulbright program let us list preferences for our city/university placement. I had no clue where to even start on the list provided, so I spoke with my Portuguese teacher and other Brazilians I've been in contact with.
The program advisors warned that the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon states were among the most popular and were hard to get into. So I decided I wouldn't even try to request these areas. Those who I spoke with guided me towards the northeastern region to the cities of Natal and Fortaleza.
But my plan didn't matter. I wound up in Minas Gerais anyways! I've heard lots of cool things about the state and surrounding area. There is also a small city located about an hour away called Catalão, or Catalan in Portuguese. Funny, again, because no matter what country, continent, or hemisphere I seem to be in, Catalonia always some how pops up. I miss Spain, yet I'm excited for new adventures.
Uberlândia is a smaller city of about 600,000 people and located inland. I've been in contact with current Fulbrighters in the city and a few who will be there with me next year. There is still a lot I need to learn and I'm looking forward to it.
Of course, I want and need to write about it in order to preserve memories and share with you all. I would appreciate any encouragement for writing about these experiences, especially given I lose motivation at some point. I am currently lacking motivation to even start.
In the meantime, I'm still learning Portuguese. It's been a lot of fun and interesting. My brain tends to switch to Spanish automatically. Then when I tutor Spanish, the Portuguese comes out! I'm also working as an unofficial personal assistant and a part-time babysitter. Some friends and I are also training for the Tinkerbell half marathon in Disney Land, CA. Another trip to Washington, D.C. is also coming up. I'm grateful to have a lot to look forward to and everything that goes with it.
Have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope to hear from you soon :-)
Amanda R. WhiteFulbright Brazil ETA Program Awardee