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Crafting Purpose – Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Crafting Purpose - Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
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I believe everything was created purposely. Specifically, I believe all people have purpose. I think life is the experience during which we realize our purpose and hopefully fulfill it. I start this blog off by speaking about my stance on purpose because it is my own understanding of my purpose that drives my desire to participate in fellowships like Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship. My purpose is to use my gifts and talents to do good works throughout the world. I am a gifted storyteller and I have been blessed with a creative mind. Therefore, I seek out opportunities to use my gift in ways that will benefit other people.

Opportunities like the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship are perfect for me because I am challenged to create a project which investigates a globally significant theme and uses storytelling as the primary tool for exploration! Participation in this fellowship includes learning from National Geographic Storytelling and expanding my knowledge of storytelling techniques. The US Departments of States commitment to global exchange and higher education along with my personal experiences as a Gilman Scholarship recipient (2017) and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship awardee (2020) have led me to firmly believe that the Fulbright-NAtional Geographic Storytelling fellowship was created for someone just like me. Someone who has the desire to use her gifts as storyteller to shed light on a subject and uplift the often overlooked perspective and quiet voices! Therefore, I plan to apply for this upcoming application cycle.

Undergoing the Gilman application process was my prerequisite course that would prepare me to apply for the Fulbright Fellowship. During the application process for Gilman I made connections with representatives in my study abroad office, writing center tutors, and alumna from my alma mater, Spelman College, who had been awarded the scholarship before. These basic connections supported me and gave me the confidence I needed to submit killer application materials. Although the Fulbright application process was more involved, I felt confident applying and creating my application materials, especially my personal narrative, because I had already begun this work when I applied for Gilman. The Fulbright interview is the only part of the application process that was completely different from Gilman’s process. I utilized my Gilman alumni network to find past Fulbright recipients that I interviewed and got advice from. This helped me to have a successful interview in English and in Spanish, because I was prepared and anticipated many of the questions that were asked during my interview.

My experience abroad as a Gilman scholar was the dawn of my journey as a global scholar. I studied Afro-Brazilian Culture and Portuguese in Bahia, Brazil. This sparked my fascination in Latin American cultures, which was intertwined with my overall interest in understanding blackness and mixed identities in other countries. As a multi ethnic brown skinned human being I started to see global exploration as exploration of myself and my origins and my connections to all peoples. I started to value cultural differences and see our similarities more. This time next year I hope to be collecting the personal narratives of black/Afro identifying people in a spanish speaking country. I also intend on documenting my learning experience living in said country. I believe all my future global and cultural exchange experiences are extensions of my Gilman experience. Gilman is the base of my experiential pyramid and all my new experiences just continue to build on that. It is my opinion that my experience as a Gilman Scholar was divinely crafted and essential to my understanding and pursuit of my purpose here on Earth.

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