BU Graduate Carrying out Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Fuenlabrada, Spain
Fulbright Recipient: Anika Michel Hometown: Queens, NY
Class of 2013
Article Written by: Tasfia Rahman, Class of 2014
Anika Michel '13 won the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain where she is currently teaching local secondary-level students in a small town south of Madrid.
During her Junior year, Anika studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain to improve her language skills and immerse herself in Spanish culture. She strengthened not only her fluency in Spanish, but also "gained a deeper understanding of how essential languages are for cross-cultural connections." Anika learned that the people there are just as curious about American culture and the English language as she is about their culture. She often participated in intercambios with local residents, which are educational but social conversations between individuals speaking different languages. Through these exchanges, Anika "saw how words and phrases can open up doors to a greater understanding of another culture. [She] decided to apply for the Fulbright ETA so that [she] could continue to explore the dynamics of Spanish culture, as well as help others learn English and understand American culture."
Anika is doing just that as an English teacher at a school called IES La Serna in Fuenlabrada, Spain. Her students are very interested in American culture and the English language. At the same time she is helping them learn about American traditions, they are teaching her a lot about their views on the government and their town. Outside of the classroom, Anika is discovering the diversity of Madrid is in regards to social class and ethnicity. Through this experience, she hopes to discover the direction she wants to follow in pursuing a career involving Journalism and International Relations.
Anika's cross cultural interests were evident during her time at Binghamton, where she double majored in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Global Studies. Aside from academics, she was also part of a variety of organizations on campus such as the Caribbean Student Association and the Pipe Dream Newspaper. Following her interest in international affairs, she became a member of the JFEW SUNY International Relations and Global Affairs Program. However, it was her experience as a Teaching Assistant for Intermediate Spanish that influenced her to apply to the Fulbright Program.
"I was very involved in the class; I led a few different lesson plans, helped students with grammar, and served as an aid to Professor Olga Martin. She and I worked as a team inside the classroom...all of those aspects...made me feel more self assured in applying for the Fulbright because I had a better understanding what leading a classroom entails." She also found encouragement from her mentors. Janice McDonald from the Office of External Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards was always available to provide invaluable advice during the process. Ryan Yarosh and Eric Coker at the Office of Media and Public Relations, where Anika was previously an intern, helped her to develop her application.
While Anika knew that the Fulbright Program was very competitive, she was confident that her previous experience in Spain and her objectives made her a qualified candidate. she advises future Binghamton students who are considering applying to "think about why you want to do this project and how your past experiences...have prepared you...think about how Fulbright would benefit your career goal and post-graduate plan".