Testemunho Fulbrighter 2018/2019
«Almost two years after it all began, my Fulbright experience has formally ended. With the support of Fulbright, I attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where I obtained a Master in Public Policy (MPP), with a specialization in International and Global Affairs.
The Fulbright experience will be what it should be. The time you spend as a Fulbrighter certainly fulfills the (many) expectations you had. It provides you with an academic and research experience that expands your personal and professional horizons.
It is a renowned, top-class program, recognized in each and every corner of the World and successful thanks to the amazing individuals whose life stories and sense of purpose inspire each cohort.
A community so diverse in interests and backgrounds which, rather than seeing difference as a barrier, sees it as an asset and welcomes you with open arms wherever you end up going during the program – and afterward, no matter how long it has passed.
And, last but certainly not least, an institutional apparatus that makes a strong effort to provide as many formal and informal learning opportunities, while valuing your culture therein. The Gateway Orientation in Miami (where I learned heat and humidity are definitely not the best combination), the Fulbright Pub Nights and Study Trips (thanks to the Fulbright MA Chapter), Thanksgiving (oh that gravy and cornbread), and all the people you met remain with you – even if not physically.
The Fulbright experience will be, however, what you want it to be. If you are an introvert, you will find the space to blossom. If you are looking for a launchpad for a certain job or academic track, you can invest time and energy – and the results will come along. If you are aiming to learn about a country characterized by diversity, history, and nature, you can find a new place to visit or a person to chat with any time you’d like.
It is the so-called trilemma: you can’t have social life, academics, and careers at once with the same intensity and results. But this interplay should never be static – in fact, the more you refine this equilibrium, the more you make it dynamic, the more you can reap from the exchange experience.
If you are willing to engage, you can do amazing things. There are a few I would highlight in my personal journey. Organizing the largest student-run conference on European and Transatlantic Affairs in the United States. Working with state and federal government bodies to help think about how they could get ready for the Future of Work. Teaching dozens of undergraduates about Macroeconomics at the time when they need it the most: when their lives and of those around them are upended due to significant hardship in this pandemic.
It will be beyond what you thought it could be. There will always be surprises – don’t doubt it.
Those people you met on the very first day will be the ones who won’t mind giving you the last luggage you need to pack all your two years in time to run away from a pandemic.
The diaspora and the Portuguese-American community whose members help you at all times (even before you depart, as PAPS did) or those who identify you in the middle of the street – because you stopped at a “Praça Portuguesa” to read the placard – and offer you their house as well as their contact information because you are a newly-arrived Portuguese.
Those books, those disciplines which you never studied before but which, thanks to the help of a few mentors, redefine the way you look to your own ideas and the work that will follow post-graduation.
Those communities which you did not know whether you’d form in two years – but when you do, the departure gets harder and the distance feels like something that should bond you more – rather than less – strongly.
Those issues which you know very little about it and never faced in your lifetime, but you get to hear astounding stories first-hand from your peers – and, from that moment onwards, your return home is set to never be the same.
Speaking from home, with everything unpacked and the degree now granted, I feel more compelled than ever to continue public service. But, more than resting upon the laurels of the MPP, cherishing and reflecting on the fruits of such a life-changing experience is essential and underscores how, without Fulbright, my own journey would have been drastically different.»
Muito obrigada, Carlos, welcome back!