This past week was my first down here in D.F.!
Day 1 (August 25) was particularly rough for my family and myself. Like typical fashion, I hardly got any sleep the night before as I packed and re-packed my suitcase and asked myself odd questions…When’s the next time I would sleep in my own bed?… How much will have changed the next time I’m home, and what will have changed more?… How many days into Mexico will I miss the wide open spaces, the sunset off the back porch, my car, or Colby Jack cheese (seriously)? I am never a fan of “the night before” embarking on something new. It always takes the day before for me to comprehend the magnitude of change that I am choosing to pursue by casting away what is comfortable in my life and exchanging it for something entirely new. For some, the days following departure are some of the most exciting. For me, I always have to find the strength to pack my suitcases, hop in the car, say teary goodbyes to my family, and head to the gate with as much optimism I can muster.
As you can about imagine, I was a bit of a mess throughout security and my first flight. By extreme luck as I was boarding to Mexico City I happened to be sitting next to a girl on the plane named Brittney. Like the extreme creep I am, I noticed that she was on her phone looking at a Fulbright Facebook page that we are all apart of. I asked her about it and as we were talking about the program, another girl, Emily, from across the row chimed in. Three Fulbrighters ended up sitting together the whole ride to Mexico City! It was such a relieve to meet two wonderful women in my same situation, and we greatly enjoyed chatting during the flight and sharing the same excitement as we landed in Mexico City for the first time.
Fulbright friends on the plane! Such a relief. Photo credit: Brittney.
We arrived in the Mexico City Airport and took a taxi with a few other Fulbrighters to the hotel for a week-long orientation. The rest of the week was spent attending preparatory meetings, trying great food, and meeting all 90+ of the Mexico Fulbright Fellows. Here’s a few highlights of my week…
A few Binational Business interns with Earl Anthony Wayne, the US Ambassador to Mexico. Mr. Wayne was able to join us for lunch during one of the orientation days. We were also able to visit the U.S. Embassy for an informational panel.
First time viewing the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City!
A few of the 2014-2015 Fulbright-Mexico cohort in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Photo credit: COMEXUS – García Robles Facebook Page.
Interior of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where we were able to watch a Folklore Ballet of Mexico’s cultural heritage.
A little bit of info about the Fulbright Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, this program allows thousands of students, scholars, etc., participate in an educational exchange with over 155 participating countries over the world. Usually the U.S. Student Program offers two routes to pursue. An English Teaching Assistantship is given to students who teach English at a given location in their host country; a Research Grantee is affiliated with a host institution to complete a carefully crafted research project that is unique to the country they have selected. For Mexico, there is a “hybrid” program called the Binational Business Internship Program (that’s me!), where grantees are to work for a multinational corporation full-time and also take MBA courses at one of two prestigious universities in Mexico City. This year the 2014-2015 Fulbright cohort in Mexico exceeds 90 grantees in total and there are 12 Binational Business Interns (BB’s). For more information about the U.S. Student Program, http://us.fulbrightonline.org/ is the link.
2014-2015 Binational Business Interns. The 12 of us will be working for different multinational corporations and also taking MBA courses at ITAM. Photo credit: COMEXUS – García Robles Facebook Page.
Overall, this week has been quite the whirlwind of emotions and shared camaraderie with all of the fellow grantees. My favorite college professor uses this quote to describe the connection people make with each other when meeting for the first time:
“The shortest distance between two people is a story”
– Patti Digh
This quote has been the perfect explanation during orientation week. Hearing everyone’s stories such as why they chose to apply for the Fulbright in Mexico was especially humbling because all of the grantees are exceptionally talented and we will learn so much from each other`s knowledge! We have all greatly benefited from the deeper conversations (our current fears, concerns, plans, etc.) because it reminds us that we aren’t alone. We are all facing the stark reality of finding our own housing, purchasing Mexican cell phones, and navigating our own way throughout the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. For the most part, our Spanish is rusty, our tasks are unclear, and we feel like we’ve been blown with the wind a little bit through this process because none of us know what to expect; but that is what makes the Fulbright experience so unique. If we had been given set instructions for phones, lodging, etc., we wouldn’t have had the independence we do this week to forge our own path and make our own decisions for the next 10 months. Never have I felt so fortunate to be associated with such a wonderful cohort of people whose main desire is to live and learn from this new culture. Cheers to the next ten months in this beautiful country. More posts to come soon!
Beautiful view of Mexico City from the top floor of our hotel for orientation week! So excited to see what these next ten months will bring.