Exchange Matters / October 26, 2018

How the Global Ties Network Launched My Career in Exchanges

Sherilyn (second from left) in Washington, DC with other Fulbright ETAs: David Dovgopolyy, Zachary Dmyterko, Sarah Wood, and Dexter Blackwell. Photo credit: Sherilyn Harrington

Throughout October, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs celebrates Youth Empowerment by highlighting efforts that build up the next generation. We followed up with a 2018 Emerging Leader and 2016 intern on how their experiences in the Global Ties Network contributed to the next step in their exchanges journey.

By Sherilyn Harrington, 2018 Emerging Leader

After interning at WorldOregon and being part of the Emerging Leaders Program at the 2018 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting, being a Fulbrighter has been the capstone of my international exchange experience.

I recently completed my first month as an Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Lutsk, Ukraine, near the Polish border. I teach at Lutsk National Technical University (NTU) mainly to linguistics students, but also run a Speaking Club that is open to all.

Since I am in the early stages of my program, I am still learning the language and cultural norms. One thing I finally figured out is the marshrutka, or minibus. I now know that if I am handed money, I am supposed to pass it forward to the driver, not tell the person,”No, thank you!” Thankfully, local Ukrainians assist me with many of my questions about the culture. Whether it is brainstorming questions a cashier might ask me, or telling me the best mode of transportation, locals have always been the best resource.

Sherilyn (left) and Olena Kovalchuk, her university host at Lutsk NTU in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Sherilyn Harrington

In Ukraine, I have been introduced to a multitude of international exchange participants and organizations: my university host, Olena Kovalchuk (pictured left), was also a Fulbright participant at Missouri Western State University; I volunteered with American Councils as they conducted testing for Ukrainian high school students for the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. I have also interacted with Peace Corps volunteers in my area; through them, I participated at the Lutsk Window on America Center, which helps operate a network of public resource centers organized by the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. All this shows me how interested Ukrainians are in learning about other countries. It is touching to connect with individuals who might otherwise not have the opportunity to speak with an American.

Thanks to organizations like Fulbright, Institute of International Education (IIE), and Global Ties U.S., hundreds of individuals are able to deepen intercultural skills and serve as citizen diplomats. As a young professional with career ambitions in intercultural exchange and relations, I cannot imagine a better way to get started. I look forward to what the next eight months have in store for me!


By Tamar Eisen, Summer 2016 Intern, Global Ties U.S.

Tamar (far right) and her students in Class 6 (age 12) pose for the camera following an English lesson.

From 2017-2018, I served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Kolkata, India. It was an incredible experience that was formative and life-changing.

As an ETA, I taught English and values education to students aged 10-15 at an all-girls school where the students spoke intermediate English. I taught lessons on grammar, American holidays, girls’ empowerment, creative writing, and more. As part of the Fulbright program, I volunteered at two NGOs: Rainbow Homes and the Child in Need Institute, where I mentored and tutored children who used to live on the streets.

My students and mentees were the highlight of my experience in India. We were all students and teachers—I taught them about America, they taught me about India. Working almost exclusively with women and girls, I saw the discrimination and inequality they faced, and was inspired to pursue a career in women’s rights and gender equality. The relationships we built yielded a mutual understanding of two very different cultures and people, revealing that international exchanges matter and can help create a more prosperous and interconnected world.

During her Fulbright program, Tamar taught students (age 11) the different ways to celebrate Halloween in the U.S. Photo credit: Tamar Eisen

This would not have been possible without my internship at Global Ties U.S. in summer 2016, which laid the groundwork for my Fulbright experience. I got to hear from ambassadors, government officials, and professionals on the benefits of working abroad; I gained the tools to be an effective citizen diplomat, such as teaching about America, learning from others, and helping promote mutual understanding through relationship building. These skills benefited me greatly as a Fulbright ETA, as I worked directly with the U.S. Consulate, Indian professionals, and my students.

My Fulbright experience would not have been as rich and meaningful without the foundation in exchanges that I received at Global Ties U.S. I am so appreciative of this amazing organization that helped me grow into a successful citizen diplomat.

Tamar at the Taj Mahal. The Fulbright Program took all the ETAs to visit Agra after our mid-year conference in Delhi. Photo credit: Tamar Eisen