Fulbright student Soumaya whale watching in San Diego
My Fulbright journey began with a Fulbright Pre-academic Program at San Diego State University, which was a three-week orientation designed to expose Fulbrighters to academia in the United States and teach them about American culture. During the program, I was able to meet many talented and exceptional Fulbrighters from all over the world, including students from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Another Fulbright student and I also had the opportunity to stay with an American host family for a weekend. They took us around their beautiful city, and we attended a San Diego Symphony concert by the beach where we listened to the Star Wars and Jaws theme songs. We even had a picnic with friends while we listened to the music. That was such an exciting and unforgettable day!
The lecturers in the pre-academic program covered a variety of subjects: communication, cultural diversity, gender identity, economy and many other topics. The most interesting aspect of the lectures was that I learned so much from each participant’s own experiences.
For example, I found out that people react differently to the same situation based on their background and cultures. Additionally, I liked the discussions that we had afterward, and also how professors encouraged us to ask questions and be curious.
Group sight-seeing selfie during Fulbright Pre-Academic Program in San Diego
San Diego was such an amazing city. Through our Fulbright Pre-academic Program we visited the US Midway Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. We also went to a baseball game and our team won! Most importantly, we took part in a volunteer activity that allowed us to give back to the local community and to be engaged.
When I reflect on my three weeks spent in San Diego, I realize that it taught me what it means to be citizen of the world, and also to embrace differences and respect diversity. I believe in a better world where differences are not stigmatized but regarded as riches.
“I believe in a better world where differences are not stigmatized but regarded as riches.” –Fulbright Student Soumaya
I want to thank our amazing program organizer, Theresa, for her great support that made this experience so enjoyable and fulfilling. Last but not least, I want thank the Fulbright Program for allowing me to take part in this unique adventure, and for giving me the chance to pursue my dreams and to study in the United States.
Soumaya is from Tunisia and is pursuing a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University.