To celebrate Fulbright alumni at Illinois State, Sandra Osorio, Milner Library, recounts her days in the program and the impact it made. #Fulbright@ISU #FulbrightPrgrm

group sitting on stone steps

Sandra Osorio in Mexico

Describe your Fulbright project.
In summer 2012, I traveled to Toluca, Mexico on a Distinguished Teacher Fulbright.  This is while I was still a second-grade bilingual teacher.  I decided Mexico would give me the opportunity to better understand the experiences and expectations for school that my classroom parents and students would have, given that the majority came from Mexico.

How do you believe your Fulbright experience changed your work after you returned?
My experience in Mexico reinvigorated my passion for making sure that my students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds were represented in my classroom community. This included in the literature shared, classroom activities chosen, and assessment practices implemented.  This has carried over to my work here at ISU because now I support preservice teachers in their journey to learning how to best support students of color in the classroom.

Travel can be referred to as the gift of the unexpected. What was the most unexpected thing you saw or experienced?
During my Fulbright experience in Mexico, I was given the opportunity to provide professional development to a group of classroom teachers.  It was an amazing experience to learn from each other.  They shared how they structured instruction for emergent bilinguals and I was able to share some of the practices from my own classroom experience.

Have you returned to the country where you served your Fulbright award? Had it changed? Had you changed?
Yes, I have returned to Mexico since my Fulbright award.  I think I have definitely changed. The experience really pushed me to provide professional development for both in-service and preservice teachers on seeing students from linguistically and culturally diverse populations from an assets-based perspective.

What do you most wish people could understand about the Fulbright experience?
That it’s a once in a lifetime experience! Fulbright gives you the opportunity to be immersed in a culture and develop better cross-cultural understanding.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for Fulbright?
Do it!  Traveling aboard is an amazing experience that changes you.  The Fulbright program offers you a way to travel aboard in a supported environment.

For additional information on Fulbright, contact the Office of International Studies and Programs or follow @FulbrightPrgrm on Twitter or  #Fulbright@ISU.