“I have spent the last three months of 2008 in the United States through a Fulbright Scholarship that allowed me to be in a professional and academic environment. Last August I went to Washington DC to start an internship program with the United States Postal Service (USPS). This program has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life and I welcome the opportunity to thank the Fulbright Commission for allowing me to have this possibility. This was a short stay with an enormous meaning, a small exchange with a huge output, a little time with a long lasting memory.

I was eager to learn from the best, to work with the most qualified in this field and it was with great pride and vast expectations that I embraced the program with the United States Postal Service. Today I can assure that I left with a feeling of fulfilment, accomplishment, completion and great success. And so it is that I carry with me from this experience the enduring knowledge, the lasting vision, the solid understanding of the biggest postal company in the world.

In September I enrolled in an academic program with the George Washington University and the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. I finished the Senior Executive Development Program which prepares candidates for the Senior Executive Service (SES). The program is designed for senior managers in the federal government, GS-13 through SES level and comparable level military, state, and local officials who wish to enhance their abilities today in order to meet tomorrow’s leadership challenges.

This was a fulfilling happening and I certainly feel richer today. I learned immensely about the public service in the US, met very interesting people, contacted with well known teachers and gained knowledge of new and different management and leadership techniques that I can certainly apply in my country.

Washington DC was also a marvellous experience, a beautiful city that will always be in my heart. The Potomac and the Virginia shore, the grass on the banks, the colours of autumn, the sun rise over the Jefferson Memorial, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river. As Marjorie Williams once wrote about this city “the truth is that many newcomers stay forever, secretly at home in the city everyone loves to hate” I believe that Washington always does more to change its newcomers than newcomers do to change it. It certainly changed me.

Like John Winthrop when he came to the United States, as an early Pilgrim, I imagined it like the “shining city upon a hill”. I have always looked up to the United States; it was my mother’s birth place, my childhood memory, my dream society, the reference of my aspirations, the model to my work. For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this country: “We do not imitate-for we are a model to others.” I returned with high hopes, in good spirit, with deep humility, and with very much gratefulness in my heart.”

Fulbright/INA/FLAD Researcher in Public Administration at the United States Postal Service, AY 2008/2009.