Jane Westlake

 

My Fulbright experience has indeed played a transformative role in my life, both professionally and personally. On a professional level, it has given me a unique perspective on how people in the rest of the world view our culture, and since my research area involves nationalism in America, it has been an eye opener. This has given me some idea about how to explain American identity in our literature to American students, and I have some interesting contrasts based on what my students shared with me. Personally, it was amazing to live with the Romanian people and get to know the people in Bucharest personally. People shared their food and their culture, their experiences of living in Romania before and after the Revolution, and their hopes for the future. Adopting the two street dogs made us instant topics of conversation among our neighbors who mostly applauded our effort and even helped us when they could. The dogs connected us with people in our building, in the local shops, in the dog park, and at the veterinary clinic. The people who had cared for the dogs before we adopted them would approach us and tell us about their relationship with the dogs. And people who weren't so fond of dogs would engage us in a debate about helping dogs versus helping people (that one was easy - stray dogs are a public health issue, and a problem where we can actually help). I knew when we arrived in Bucharest in February and saw that people in our neighborhood had build little dog shelters because of the freezing weather, I knew when I saw people petting and feeding the stray dogs, that this was a friendly place. I was struck by how people were always willing to help us, even though we barely speak any Romanian, and also by how people would apologize for Bucharest. I was struck by how open people were and how curious they were about us. I loved going to the Philharmonic and seeing crowds actually chant for an encore until they got one - a crowd made up of young and old, families, young couples, people in evening attire and people in jeans. I saw theatre productions about the history of Bucharest or that involved Caragiale, and I saw crowds applaud familiar references and express ownership for their national culture. I also saw a sold-out opera house for Madame Butterfly. Seeing people love their culture so much, but being so curious about others, had a profound impact on me. I must say that I haven't really been able to synthesize my experience yet, and maybe as the regular semester gets underway, I'll have more thoughts about what it means to me. But I am certainly forever changed by getting to know this country and these people.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

Adress: 2 Ing. Nicolae Costinescu Street, sector 1, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: 021.230.77.19
Fax: 021.230.77.38
E-mail: office@fulbright.ro

Fulbright Educational Advising Center

Phone: 021.231.90.15
E-mail: feac@fulbright.ro

 Public hours

Tuesday: 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM
 Wednesday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
 Thursday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM