ONIF Student Spotlight
December 3, 2021
Name: Morrissa Berman
Degree: MA Urban Education - Digital Learning
Graduation Date: May 2019
Fellowship Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) - Uruguay. As a Fulbright ETA I am placed in various English classes in Uruguay to offer support, present lessons, and share information about myself and the United States with students. The age ranges of students vary from primary school to adult learners. I am working in a high school class and two adult (teacher) training schools.
What are your current or future career plans? After having the experience working with adult learners, I would love to continue working with this age group. I would also like to continue working abroad in some capacity as the cross-cultural exchange that comes with working in a different country is also a great experience.
What have you enjoyed most about the program? I have really enjoyed getting to know and spending time with the students. It has been really fun sharing (and often laughing about) cultural differences that we often do not even realize are such a big part of who we are. Outside of the classrooms I have enjoyed exploring the country, trying new foods, and making friends wherever I can!
What has been the most challenging aspect of the program (thus far)? The same cultural differences that make for fascinating conversations with students also bring challenges when moving to a new country. There have been quite a few large adjustments moving from the US to Uruguay. One example is that typically events start and end much later than what is common in the US. Restaurants might not open until 8pm and it is very common to eat at 8pm, 9pm or 10pm. These cultural differences are both very interesting to experience while also can be a challenge when trying to adjust to life abroad.
How has Covid-19 impacted your experience? The Covid situation here in Uruguay has been relatively stable compared to many other countries. The vaccination rate is quite high and the restrictions, while still very evident, are not as limiting as those in other countries might be experiencing. However, because there are still Covid cases, restrictions are still in place. Specifically with education, many adult classes are online, with a hybrid model often being used. Younger students are fully in person but classrooms originally had a lower capacity to allow for more physical distancing. In general, however, I have still been able to form meaningful relationships with my mentor teachers and students despite the virtual classes and distancing.
What advice do you have for future applicants? Really take some time to pick and research your country of choice. You will be spending a significant amount of time in the country and getting to know it beforehand can be very helpful.
What would people be surprised to know about you? I am a very big homebody despite wanting to live and work abroad!
Caption: Me drinking mate on the rambla (the boardwalk that runs along nearly the entire city). Mate is a really common drink here in Uruguay. You will see everyone with their mates at all hours of the day and it is very common to see people sitting and drinking mate on the rambla. With the Covid pandemic, people typically bring their own mates but under normal circumstances, groups of people would all share one mate.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. For more information, visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/, or contact ONIF.