Had it not been for Fulbright, I still would not be able to identify Somaliland as a country. This is just one example out of many surprising things I did not expect to learn on my journey as a Fulbrighter. Before starting my work, I had already pictured myself indulging more in Austrian and US culture; however, I was absolutely amazed by the diverse group of people I met throughout my year as a Fulbrighter. Among these were fellow Fulbrighters as well as international students. People from different continents, cultural and/ or religious backgrounds became my most intimate friends. While eating at Agnes Scott’s dining hall, we regularly had heated debates about controversial topics like education, politics, culture, and religion. No one was afraid to articulate their opinion. Sometimes we figured out similarities, sometimes differences; sometimes we changed our mind after listening to each other’s stories, sometimes we agreed to disagree. At the end of the day, it was not important that our mindset was entirely the same but that we learnt to embrace differences and tried our best to understand other viewpoints. Overall, I would argue that my year as a Fulbrighter brought me one considerable step closer to analyzing current issues in a more global context and to becoming a more open-minded and tolerant human being.
Bianca Kepplinger received her Magistra in a teacher training program at the University of Salzburg. She was an Austrian Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant at Agnes Scott College in the 2018–19 program year.