ETA Sherilyn Harrington on her first month in the Ukraine

Nov 13, 2018
Sherilyn Harrington and Olena Kovalchuk
Sherilyn (left) and Olena Kovalchuk, her university host at Lutsk NTU in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Sherilyn Harrington

By Sherilyn Harrington

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.

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!


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