Fulbright scholar Josefina Diaz brings world perspectives to Merrimack
Merrimack has participated in the Fulbright Scholars Program for many years. The Fulbright Program is a yearlong exchange program in which graduate students from all over the world come to colleges throughout the United States, while people from the United States go to institutions in countries abroad. Fulbright scholars teach their native language while taking courses at the host institution.
“The goal of the program is to have FLTAs be both ambassadors of our cultures and to learn about the American people and their culture, which we will share when we return home,” explained Diaz. “Also, when teaching your own language, you’re forced to reflect upon your own history and cultural heritage. This broadens our understanding and awareness of our own roots and the communities we represent. This experience allows us to grow professionally and academically.”
“We also become more tolerant of cultural and social differences and learn to appreciate them,” she said. “At the same time, the program provides American people with the opportunity to meet, relate and work with someone from a completely different country, like Argentina. Learning about a whole different system and way of living opens your eyes and maybe makes you feel curious about it.”
In addition to teaching and taking class, Josefina hosts a “Spanish Table” at which students engage in dialogue to enhance their language skills.
Diaz has deeply reflected on her time at Merrimack College. “In my opinion, any type of exchange program that allows you to live for a short or long period of time in a foreign community, not as a tourist but as part of that community, will be extremely rewarding,” she said. “Yes, there are also many challenges that you’ll have to face, but overcoming obstacles and meeting new challenges is what makes this experience so fruitful.” She continued, “As I’m getting to the end of my stay here, I feel more open-minded and have a new perspective of the world we live in. I believe that we can all learn from each other and that it is the differences between us what makes the world so wonderful and great to explore.”
As for her future, Diaz said, “I hope life brings me back to the States in the future. I’ve met great people that made me feel at home, and I’m grateful for that. I highly encourage anyone interested in crossing the frontiers to take the challenge to travel abroad and experience humanity in a different way.”
Ryan Matthews, a former Merrimack graduate student in the higher education program, is currently a Fulbright scholar in Turkey.
Merrimack values diverse perspectives to enhance student learning in and out of the classroom. The institution is honored to have these scholars come share their experiences with our community and proud to have alumni dispersed throughout the world.
The first year of the Fulbright program at Merrimack College was in 2005.
The Fulbright online application is open as of May 1, 2014. All are encouraged to apply. Applications will be considered through October 14, 2014.
For more than 50 years Americans have looked at Cuba as a political pariah, ruled by a despot whose views were anathema to our way of life — but which produced great cigars and kept classic cars on the road. A Cuban speaker coming to Merrimack through the Witness for Peace program hopes to broaden that perspective.