Monday, May 9, 2011

Fulbright Personal Statement

When I was 15, I volunteered at a city dump in Porto Velho, Brazil where people lived and
raised their families. I had never seen such poverty in one location, and never have since. It was eye
opening and shocking experience that jarred me from my safe, assumed perfect world. I began to
consider the multitude of problems that others faced. I learned that there was so much that I did not
know about other cultures and that they did not know about the US. This consideration and surprise
is part of what lead me to study international relations in college. From an early age I was interested
in politics and why the world is the way it is. I always questioned my mom and other adults about
things that I thought never made sense. Like why did all the moms on TV stay home all day while
my single mother was always working? This confusion contributed to my desire to study politics in
college. As I progressed through college, I became more interested in gender and how it affects the
political system. When given a chance I wrote about women and politics to further my knowledge. I
knew I wanted to focus in on women in the international arena when completing graduate research.
I discovered my career goal of working for the State Department ever since I discovered
exactly what it is the State Department does. As I matured and expanded my boundaries, the career
track I wanted changed, but I have never wavered on wanting to join the State Department. I want to
become a Foreign Service Officer with a track in public Diplomacy or Consular work. I want to help
brighten the image of America abroad. I believe that the only way to do this is to interact on a daily
basis with the people of the country I am working in. I have had the opportunity to do exactly this in
both Brazil and Russia. I hope to continue to do so when I live and study in Skopje, Macedonia under
the auspices of a Fulbright Fellowship during the 2011-2012 academic year.

As I started college, there was no doubt in my mind I would study abroad as part of my desire
to see international relations in action. I was able to achieve one of my life goals in my second year at
college when I completed a semester study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was purely
exhilarating to see another culture in such depth, to live, breathe and be a part of it. One day, early in
the semester, I was wandering around downtown St. Petersburg, utterly lost, freezing cold, and
unable to talk to anyone since I had only had three classes of Russian. I was having the time of my
life. It was then, when I couldn’t stop smiling in the weather that I usually detested, that I knew that
this, right here, this culture is what I wanted to study. I fell in love with the city and the history of
Russia. I suddenly knew that my life was going in the right direction and that I wanted to study this
culture and others like it. I needed to know more about the world that I lived in, especially the former
Soviet Union. Upon my return on the US, I started taking more courses on Russia and Eastern
Europe, which onlysolidified my desire to work for the State Department later in life, after getting an
advanced degree.

When thinking about my future after undergrad, I knew that I wanted to complete graduate
level research on civil society in Eastern Europe before undertaking a US master’s program in
diplomacy. I had always known about Fulbright and tried to emulate the philosophy and ideals
behind the program. I became interested in Macedonia when learning about Eastern Europe; the
Balkans were largely ignored. They were never part of the curriculum. I knew that I wanted to delve
deeper into the Balkans and write my thesis about them. I tried to check books over the summer to
learn more about this area, the region that created the political science term “balkanization,” but there
was literally only one book about the regionat my local library. When I looked further for a book
specific to Macedonia there were none. This only sparked my interest more, only made me want to
study this culture more. Going to Macedonia to study gender and government will tie all of my
interests of improving the world around me together; it will link my past studies and my future

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