My Fulbright Experience in the Azores by Lily Snider
Ponta Delgada, Açores, is one of the most wonderful places to be a writer and Fulbrighter. I spend my days splitting time between the two things that are most important to my work here. The first is conducting research with and supporting the efforts of Museu Sahar Hassamaim, my formal host institution. I work on writeups and translations for their various exhibitions, as well as give tours to both English and Portuguese-speaking visitors. In turn, I have already learned so much about the history of Judaism on this archipelago—both through the written sources I use at the museum’s wonderful library, as well as through the conversations I have with local and international visitors to the museum.
The rest of my time is spent reflecting on my experiences here and settling myself in peaceful places in nature where I can read and write. The island is full of space to breathe and take things slow, and I find that it lends itself to productivity ever so gently. My writing primarily consists of documentation of my days to fuel my nonfiction narrative, as well as explorations of my family history—but I have also found myself naturally inspired to write many other things, like poems & unrelated essays, which has been surprising and gratifying.
When I’m not working on my project, I explore different parts of the islands with the friends I have already been lucky enough to make here, ex-pats and locals alike. I’ve enjoyed practicing my film photography, hiking at places like Lagoa do Fogo, bathing in hot springs like those at Terra Nostra in Furnas, and jumping in the ocean most days at the local natural pool, Portas Do Mar. Even as late as this week, the water has been welcoming, and I hear that it stays warm until January or even later! I also have enjoyed cooking with local foods and eating local desserts, like the Queijadas do Morgado in Vila Franca do Campo. They’re my favorite sweet treat on the island!
Overall, as a writer and Fulbright Arts Grantee, I can already say that my time here in Ponta Delgada, Açores, has been transformative; I cannot imagine a better place to explore my voice, writing, and research, and I am so grateful to Fulbright, Portugal for giving me the opportunity to be here.