Bénédicte Vermogen, France
Université Jean Moulin, Lyon III – Central College, Pella, Iowa
Deciding to accept my position in Central College, Iowa and being part of the Fulbright family has been one of the best and most empowering decision of my life.
First I would say that FLTA program helps you experimenting one of the less known face of the USA. Who would naturally go in Iowa to sightsee?
Discovering Midwest and its inhabitants have been a real culture shock for me and this, even if I am living in the most represented culture in mass media. I arrived here and was given new clues to understand American culture.
Attending class in an American college revealed an educational system at the opposite side of my native one. I had to learn a new way of communicating with my students but at the same time, I was happy to give them the opportunity to open them to a different vision of the world. It was also a great opportunity to lower cultural gaps or at least to be aware of cultural differences.
Teaching my native langugage as a foreign language was a fulfilling experience and not only for my resume. It helped me defining new career goals and helped me to find the way I wanted to teach. This is how I blended two cultures. I feel like I will go back to my home country with much more perspectives than before.
During my stay, I also wanted to discover the numerous faces of United States. I wanted to get away of stereotypes depicted in mass culture media. Thus, I took the time to travel and to discover into depth American cultures: Southern, West Coast vs. East Coast, Midwest, … I tried to take the most of it: architecturally, artistically, culinary, historically speaking but also in so many other ways that I did not mention above.
A Fulbright experience also means taking the time to settle down and to step back and to think of career prospects. I must say, this experience empowered me and helped me reshaping my vision of life. I learnt how to assert and to position myself. I had the time to let my heart speak and getting involved in things that matter to me. Things that I never had taken the time to do before.
There is no doubt that this feeling has been enhanced by the numerous questions of my classmates, students or simply everyday things that seemed unusual to me. Part of it because everything is subject to debate when you are a foreigner.
Taking the time to travel is not only a way to reflect on our own person, but it is also the time to meet people. When we think of FLTA program, this includes much more than American people. It means being part of TA team coming from every corner of the world. It means having the world in the palm of your hand. It means gaining awareness. It before all means, to me, going back home with a heart full of new people and having the desire to help the change in different countries. The bilateral exchange wished by Senator Fulbright is broader than bilateral. Actually it is multilateral and I am extremely grateful for having the chance to be part of it.
Alumni told me: » Your life will change Bénédicte. » I thought it would but not that much.
Before Fulbright I thought my life was going to be a routine, now I know I want to be adventurous and dare to live my dreams. This is priceless.
Thanks also for helping me pushing my boundaries and for asking me the day I was interviewed in Paris if sky were my limit.
I am still trying to figure it out and by trying to reach it, at some point it changes your way of seeing the world. for this I am more grateful.