A Year in the Fulbright Life: Dareen’s Story

For the next year, Fulbright MENA will be showcasing a handful of students as they study in the United States with their new series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Each month, spotlighted students will share an update as they continue on their Fulbright journey.

August 2017

Fulbrighter Dareen from the West Bank recently completed her pre-academic training at Kansas University with 18 Fulbright students from 9 countries. Here are a few photos she’s shared about her experience.

“This is the statue of Nailsmith who invented basketball and wrote the rules of the games. He used to coach sports at the University of Kansas where I had my program and he lived to see this game becoming an Olympic game. He created this game for his students to play sports indoor as outdoor during winter it was too hard to play due to cold weather.”

“The photo of me with some of my international friends with cars in the background that was taken during a Derby Car Crash event which is a part of local festival. In this event some old cars are renovated and prepared to participate in this game where they enter a gaming ring and start crashing against each other and the one that survives is the winner. The festival in general was interesting especially watching this activity that was first for me to attend a Derby Car Crash.”

“Our poster presentation session that was the final product of our pre academic program. My poster presentation was about Breast Cancer treatment and diagnosis in rural areas of Palestine. This project trigger several ideas for my upcoming thesis as I am enrolled in International Development program with health concentration.”

Dareen also shared photos of herself and her new friends:

September 2017

It’s been a busy month as I settled in at Ohio University.

On 9/11, I stood in solidarity to remember the victims who passed away in the terror attacks and participated in an activity of placing a flag for every victim, hoping that all those inhuman attacks will come to an end.

Who said that we can’t have fun and study?! I had the chance to attend my department’s picnic with some of my colleagues in my program.

Even though there was unexpected heavy rain on the day of the first football game of the season, we didn’t miss it! We bought our fancy Ohio University ponchos into the stadium, and I got to watch my very first live football game!

October 2017

“I’ve been busy with midterms, but I’ve also had the chance to have a few new experiences. I enjoyed the beauty of nature in Ohio during the fall by horseback riding on a trail with my American roommates and a few friends. I also had the chance to participate in the homecoming parade with the international student association. We each held a flag of our home country we were representing. Homecoming is an event where alumni are invited to return to campus for a weekend. It normally includes a parade or a football game where all the current students, faculty, and alumni attend together and show their school spirit.

I also had the chance to meet American politician Ted Strickland, who was the 68th Governor of Ohio. We had a thought-provoking discussion that was facilitated by Dr. Julia Paxton regarding economics and challenges that poverty faces worldwide and in the Appalachia region especially.

Besides my classes, I’ve joined the Right to Movement running team, which advocates for human rights. This month I ran in the homecoming race and accomplished a new personal record as I had my fastest 5 Km run in 28 minutes.”

November 2017

I volunteered at an environmental camp with five colleagues from different countries. Each one presented about changes to the environment and climate in their country, and I discussed the impact on the Dead Sea, which is one of the unique environments impacted by the phenomenon of changing weather patterns in the West Bank.

Planning a community campfire with the kids was fun, and I got to try s’mores for the first time after I have been hearing about them a lot from the kids!

I am also enjoying the wonderful Christmas spirit here! Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, especially since I come from the Holy Land.

December 2017

This month, I had my finals and it was a busy period. However, I met with my friends and we made a ginger bread house and decorated some cookies together. This is a photo of us with one of our masterpieces. In addition, we enjoyed caroling and it was a good motivation to get through the exams.

After I finished my exams, I traveled to Texas. It was my first time visiting my friends there, and I am so happy for the chance to celebrate Christmas with them. This is a photo of me in front of their beautiful home in Austin, Texas that won the Christmas decoration competition in their neighborhood.

Last month, I also supported my friend, a Fulbrighter from Kyrgyzstan studying film, to produce his short film for his final project. It was interesting to experience what happens behind the scene, and I was amazed with the final product.

January 2018

I have crossed attending the ball drop at Times Square in New York off my bucket list! I enjoyed it with some friends and met new people from all around the world and the United States. That was a once in a lifetime unique experience!

My visit to the United Nations (UN) was so inspiring. I was excited to be in a hall where people from countries all around the world meet to work towards a better world and to protect human rights. Watching the meeting and the achievements of the UN was what inspired me to pursue a humanitarian career in the first place.

I had a reunion with some of my friends and Fulbrighters whom we met through the pre-academic program. We enjoyed the winter break together in New York and DC.

I hosted an international dinner with friends from 12 countries. Each person cooked a traditional meal and we celebrated our achievements of the last semester and are ready for our second semester!

Dareen is from the West Bank and is a first-year Fulbrighter. She is studying International Development Studies at Ohio University.

Follow updates from Dareen and other Fulbright students on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Check back here every month for more updates on the blog and Medium Series to see what Dareen does this year!

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