Rabeya Mallick, Fulbright ETA 2015-16
The opportunity to spend the week in Berlin and attend the Berlin Seminar was one of the highlights of my Fulbright experience. Every year, the Fulbright Commission in Germany opens its mid-year meeting, the Berlin Seminar, to the other commissions throughout Europe. The seminar is an opportunity to meet grantees living all over Europe, and to learn more about their experiences and the work they do. I was lucky enough to be one of three France grantees who attended the seminar.
I discovered quickly that France had a rather small group of grantees compared to some of its neighboring countries. It was exciting to be able to meet so many talented individuals, and learn about the unique research projects they were executing throughout Europe. I also enjoyed meeting other ETAs, learning more about how the program differs country by country, but also finding common experiences and struggles both in the classroom and outside of it regardless of country placement. While the majority of the ETAs present were located in Germany, there were still many other countries present. I had the opportunity to present about the ETA experience in France, and my fellow ETAs were eager to ask questions about our unique placement in ZEP schools. I also attended a group discussion about the refugee crisis and how it came into play in our Fulbright experience. While the crisis was something I was following in the news and something I did discuss with my students, practically speaking it did not largely touch my day-to-day teaching in France. I was interested to hear about many ETAs (especially in Germany) who had programs in their schools to try to support families and students who were refugees, and how the schools and communities had been handling the influx of refugee families.
Spending time with other grantees from the US living in Europe also served as a reminder of how living in France has become a part of me. While we were all mostly from the United States, some of us from the same parts of the country or same towns, even, we all had adopted little habits or preferences in accordance with our host country. It was fun to represent France in such a way, and while it was a nice change to be around so many Fulbrighters at once, it also reminded me of how much I appreciate our close-knit, “little” Commission back in France.