So – I recently returned from my Fulbright experience (the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar) in Germany and everyone at BSU is asking me “How was it?”
I am struggling to respond. This program provides 20 higher education professionals with an intensive immersion in the German culture, society and educational system. For two weeks, I travelled across the country, with side trips to Poland and France; received information about 10 higher education institutions; attended eight talks and a multitude of formal dinners and receptions as well as visited two governmental agencies. I participated in 3 large group tours of universities and 3 small group visits that included meetings with career services staff, rectors (the U.S. equivalent of university presidents), students and faculty. In my “spare” time, I wandered through as many museums and palaces as time permitted.
As a result, I can’t begin to explain how much I have learned through this process. I left for Germany with spare knowledge of its educational system, viewed on-line with Google’s rough translation services, and a mild understanding of its culture as a third generation German-American. I have returned with my mind working hard to shift paradigms in educational and societal differences. One lecturer spoke to us about America’s need to be individualistic versus the German tendency toward the common good. I bristled at that, but as I spent more time talking to Germans and observing their educational, economic and social systems, I saw his point. I sometimes grew tired of the rough and heavy German language swarming around me in the U-bahn (subway) or in the streets, but heard someone speaking in German last night on NPR – it was music to my ears and brought back lovely memories of a beautiful country. I even expanded my concept of America’s diversity, through the tight relationships I developed among my fellow Fulbrighters –a Morman from Brigham Young University; a liberal from Waco, Texas; a former Ukrainian; a foster mother from Hawaii; a former Naval officer.
So – where do I begin to explain my trip?
That’s right…through pictures. For more about my trip to Germany, come join me next Tuesday, November 12th at 3:00 pm in the Heritage Room. I will show you what Germany means to me.
Carol Crosby is the Assistant Director for Career Services.