Clemente Garcia – 2018-2020, ETA, Netherlands
My name is Clemente Garcia and I’m a two-time (2018-2020) Fulbright ETA in the Netherlands from Houston, TX. My pathway to this point was a long, and often arduous one. Like my mom, I didn’t finish high school and began working instead. After some time I obtained my GED and enrolled in online classes at my local community college. I eventually moved into night courses while continuing to work at a local bank. In 2014, I received a scholarship to #UTAustin as a #TerryScholar. In my second year, my scholarship sent me to study in Istanbul where meeting with Syrian refugees showed me what it means to be underprivileged and denied education due to other circumstances.
Finally in December 2017, 9 years after dropping out of high school, I graduated first-gen with my B.S. in Applied Learning and Development with my teaching license. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when she greeted me outside the hall at graduation. One month later, I found myself in Taiwan teaching English at a bilingual primary school. I chose education because I once gave up on it due to life circumstances–I will advocate for others that may not know how to navigate the system on their own.
I applied to the Netherlands to experience how this efficient, multicultural, yet often misportrayed society approaches education, especially in language acquisition and vocational training. There are so many parallels between American and Dutch societies. I’m determined to bring the best aspects back to the States where it will benefit communities where language instruction is needed most. Fulbright has opened so many doors for me and has allowed me to network with people. I’ve learned about career paths and resources that I didn’t even know existed. As a child I spent a lot of time examining maps and globes never imagining that I’d see those tiny dots for myself.
Never doubt your right to belong amongst the ranks of this prestigious organization. Never feel less deserving than those who will complete their Fulbrights with you. Never question your timeline because you’re moving at the right pace. Always leave the door open for those coming behind you, especially when they're from our community.