My name is Vanessa Diaz and I was a 2016-2017 Fulbright ETA Grantee in Amman, Jordan. I was born and raised in New Jersey with two Colombian parents. I graduated in 2015 from Virginia Commonwealth University in majoring in Graphic Design. My first time in the Middle East was in 2014, when I received a Gilman Scholarship to study Graphic Design in Doha, Qatar. After my return, I began researching more about Arabic typography and based my senior capstone on interpreting the youth culture in the Middle East through posters, booklet designs, and typographic explorations in Arabic and English. To better inform my research and designs, I began learning Arabic and seeking language partners to continue practicing.
In 2015, I applied for a Fulbright in Jordan, a country which I felt would offer a different experience than Qatar, and has a close connection to Modern Standard Arabic in Amyiaa, the spoken language of Jordan. I applied to be an ETA because I had a lot of experience in youth development and wanted to pursue how teaching English could dictate my bilingual designs by understanding how people learn English. During my Fulbright, I taught 5th through 8th grade at a private Christian in Amman. In my class, I emphasized participation and engaging activities, and even started a Pen Pal exchange between my old in middle school in New Jersey and my 5th grade students. Apart from my teaching duty, I volunteered on the weekends to co-teach for @banaatconnect in the Gaza Camp in Jerash, Jordan. I also designed the front entrance banner for Hopes for Women in Education and a few roll-up banners for @siitisoap. During the week, I also volunteered with @reclaimedchildhood. Lastly, I also danced salsa at different venues in Amman.
I am excited for this #FulbrightLatinx platform that Elena and I started, in order to highlight the achievements of the growing number of Latinx Fulbrighters. We want to show each other how wonderfully diverse and different each of our stories can be, while still all representing the Latinx community. #fulbrightlatinx #fulbright #jordan #gilmanscholar #vcu #design #eta #banaatconnect #hopesforwomenineducation #gazacamp #amman #latinx