Scholarship Warriors

Scholarship Warriors

September 14, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


The fellowship that I did was the Fulbright Scholarship and so I was teaching at a university in Panama City, Panama. I went to India on a Boren Scholarship to study Urdu and Hindi. These types of fellowships and scholarships are not just to fund a study abroad, they have very purposeful missions. They’re very prestigious because they’re very selective. because we don’t want to send just anybody out into the world without the right skills to be successful. I think when they choose fulbrighters, they choose people who can mak something out of nothing. You’re really put in this place and expected to make something happen and for me that was incredibly difficult. There were points which, at which I was the only english speaker, probably for a hundred miles. It’s stressful but at a deeper level you know that if something happened, who’s going to help? Who’s going to know what you need? The ability to be adaptable and meet new people and be in uncomfortable situations is such an important skill set in today’s world that once you do it once the next time will be easier. I was able to climb the tallest peak in Panama and it was one of those things that i just wanted to give up and cry but when you get to the top and you’re sitting in your little tent and you’re eating your cup of ramen soup, you’re like, “this is the best meal of my entire life!” I was also able to spend time with the Panama indigenous group called the Embera where I learned how to do body painting and I learned a little bit about a new language and a new culture and I didn’t even know those existed. One of the research projects for my program was an anthropological field study and I chose to do mine at a local Sufi shrine. I spent a lot of time working with a group of rural women who had kind of come to the Sufi shrine as a pilgramage. This one little girl asked, “what caste are you, ma’am?” She was Muslim and there’s still a Muslim caste system and that was even a surprise to me. Before you study abroad, I guess you should consider someplace less-developed. Sometimes you can get trapped in a bubble and you think this is all there is. It isn’t necessarily about making huge, overarching differences and changes but it’s more about that personal, intercultural exchange and understanding about another person, another culture and having them understand a little bit more about you.