Anna Braverman Reflects on her Fulbright and PRESHCO Experience
Anna Braverman studied on PRESHCO in Spring 2018. She is a graduate of Colby College with a degree in History and Classical Civilization. After completing the semester Anna stayed on in Córdoba and did research with the PRESHCO Science Grant.
My study abroad experience in Córdoba greatly informed my decision to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in México (Fulbright García-Robles Scholarship). Living for the first time in a Spanish-speaking country after years of classroom Spanish tremendously improved my level of Spanish. Initially daunting, my four classes in Spanish expanded my vocabulary and cultural knowledge. So too, the PRESHCO Summer Science Scholarship improved my Spanish. For that scholarship, I lived in Córdoba as a worker rather than a student, which meant navigating Córdoba on my own for the first time, from the supermarket to public transportation. I conducted research on the city's ancient aqueduct system, and as part of that research I participated in an archaeological excavation at Madinat al-Zahra with a Spanish team. Since they spoke no English, we talked for seven hours a day in only Spanish. As a result of these experiences, I achieved advanced proficiency in Spanish, and therefore felt well-equipped to live for nine months in México.
Not only did my language skills improve immensely, but also my ability to adapt to another culture. Through various activities such as soccer, rugby, gym classes, and events with my language partner from Córdoba over the course of the semester, I integrated into the larger student community. In stark contrast, I experienced life as a member of the working class as a researcher and archaeologist over the summer. Besides improving my Spanish at the dig, I developed long-lasting friendships with Chucky and Pépe, the two Spanish archaeologists with whom I worked for seven hours a day over the course of three weeks. As we worked, we shared our perspectives on corruption, economic status, the afterlife, and many other pertinent topics. They continuously taught me that life is to be enjoyed, and that relationships are the cornerstones of happiness. Through these experiences, I learned that patience with oneself and others, sympathy and empathy, and active participation in activities and conversations are crucial to intercultural fluency.
The challenges and rewards of studying and working abroad prepared me for my Fulbright experience, and taught me the value of intercultural exchange. Living in Córdoba for eight months greatly expanded my horizon, and affirmed my passion for learning about different people and cultures. In the future, I hope to work in the field of social justice either as an immigration attorney, human rights lawyer, or manager at an NGO. In order to expand one's capacity for empathy, to learn about how other people view the world, and ultimately to make meaningful change at a global level, one must not only live, but actively participate in a foreign culture. I will always be grateful to PRESHCO for teaching me the value of cultural exchange.
I encourage you to check out my blog that details my experience as a PRESHCO Summer Science Scholar.