Valeria Simone– 2017-2018, ETA, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Hello everyone! My name is Valerie Simone and I was a Fulbright ETA in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2017-2018. I was placed with the Islamic faculty of the University of Sarajevo. I taught the verbal portion of English class for first and second year university students.
I had never been anywhere except the US and Mexico and I was born and raised in El Paso TX which is a desert and very hot most of the year. In Sarajevo I experienced my first real winter. I also knew close to nothing about Islam and found myself immersed into a vibrant and welcoming society.
Growing up I always wanted to experience another culture completely different from my own but as I interacted and lived day-to-day in Sarajevo I found a lot of similarities to my home. Although one very different thing was the call to prayer that sounded out from every mosque about five times a day. I miss that, a lot.
I also took my son with me who was 5 when we arrived in country. He is 8 now and I look forward to when he gets older to see what he remembers and what from our experiences really stuck with him. Without Fulbright I would have never been able to share this experience with him.
I always dreamed of living abroad but I moved out of my parents house at 17 and pretty much lived on student loans and minimum wage work for a very long time. A few years after my son was born I had a routine surgery that, due to complications, almost took my life.
My son was almost 3 at the time and I remember thinking that I never achieved a lot of what I wanted to achieve and one of the biggest goals was to live abroad. Once I recovered and returned to school I was in a class that had a Fulbright presentation and right then I decided that I would apply. I was an alternate and then a few months later found out that I had been awarded.
When I received the confirmation email I was so happy and couldn’t believe that I was going to get to live out a dream. If you’re considering applying, definitely go for it!