Learn with me.
My Fulbright fellowship officially came to an end several weeks ago, and I've spent lots of days moping around in my pajamas and processing my sadness.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to continue my research until July 1st, visiting schools, interviewing students and educators, and presenting at conferences in Germany, Sweden, and Finland. All that has been cancelled, as countries cancelled large events, closed borders, and imposed lockdowns to try to control the coronavirus pandemic.
I started preparing for this Fulbright in the fall of 2018, asking for letters of recommendation, reading, and crafting my research proposal. I applied in January 2019 and was accepted in March. I spent the next nine months making plans for my departure, working with the teachers who would take over my classes, obtaining a leave of absence from my district, cancelling and suspending bill payments in the US, renting out my house to people who were also willing to look after my dog, finding housing in the Netherlands, figuring out Dutch bureaucracy, confronting my fears, saying goodbye to friends and family, and emotionally preparing for my longest adventure away from home. I arrived in the Netherlands in January 2020, full of hopes and dreams, and two months later, it all came crashing down.
It's nobody's fault, and there's no way any of us could have been prepared for this. I went through moments of panic, tears, and stress as the Netherlands Travel Advisory was raised to a Level 3 and eventually a Level 4. We received a Voluntary Departure Notice, and were urged to return home before borders closed and made return travel impossible. My mind raced with several worries - returning home would mean breaking my lease in the Netherlands and losing thousands of dollars, as well as being homeless, unemployed, and uninsured in Los Angeles, a city with a high cost of living. I decided to shelter in place in Utrecht, hunkering down with my husband and Andrea, my Italian roommate.
I've now accepted this new reality, but I'm hopeful that Fulbright will consider revising their policies for our cohort, eventually allowing us to reapply and return to finish what we started.
This blog is not an official Department of State website. The views and information presented are the DA Participant's own and do not represent the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Research Program, the U.S. Department of State, or IREX.