November 20, 2018
“Even as a teacher, I learn way more from my students than they learn from me!”
Sometimes, the elementary school children Juliette is teaching English to in Taiwan reciprocate by helping her with Mandarin — usually by teasing her about her pronunciation.
“We went on a hike, and the only thing they enjoyed more than making fun of me was looking for squirrels,” she said. “They would freak out whenever we saw a squirrel; yet later in the hike when saw a MONKEY, everyone acted like it was nothing! Then it was my turn to laugh.”
That authentic, 2-way cultural exchange was what made Juliette interested in a Fulbright Scholarship in the first place. She didn’t just want to travel. She wanted an experience.
Fulbright helps scholars connect more deeply with the communities they live in abroad. Juliette wants to cover international affairs as a journalist, so learning to engage with another culture in a rich, meaningful way is a critical tool for her.
But the first time she applied to Fulbright, she didn’t get it. But instead of being discouraged, she tried a different approach.
“While I was disappointed, I spent the next year pursuing opportunities that allowed me to grow professionally and personally,” she said. “It made all the difference in my application.”
It was a long wait to see if it would pay off: the applicatoin process takes about a year. But now, she's trekking through Taiwan.
“I’ve already begun learning so much in my few weeks here, from how to adapt to a different culture to basic Mandarin and, most importantly, how to ride a scooter without losing a limb,” she said.
She’s chronicling the trip with a hearty dash of hilarity in her "Taiwandering" blog:
- "I accidentally put so much chili sauce in my noodle soup that the restaurant owner heard me coughing and TOOK MY SOUP AWAY."
- "After lunch, students AND teachers are encouraged to take a 40-minute nap. I think I can get used to this."
- "The other teachers spoiled me with a hilariously melodramatic rendition of a traditional folk tale. It involves love, betrayal, an immortality elixir, and an actual rabbit… on the moon."