-By Kayla Stewart-
How awesome would it be if *ETAs from around the world could have a central space to connect, learn, and engage with each other about various abroad experiences?
Well, there’s a website for that.
Coming upon its second year in operation, Fulbridge is an online platform designed to “create a more interconnected Fulbright community, where ETAs from across the globe can connect through travel, teaching, and cultural exchange.”
Designed by former Fulbright South Korea 2014-2015 ETA Zoë Gioja, the website is a resource for all things Fulbright. You can find a blog that’s curated by ETAs from around the globe, a map where Fulbrighters have pinned their site, living situation, interests, and even English lesson ideas. Gioja launched the website in August 2015 after realizing the need for a global resource to learn about other ETA experiences and connect with ETAs from around the world.
“I got the idea for Fulbridge halfway through my grant year, when I was traveling in Southeast Asia over winter break,” said Gioja in an email to Indonesiaful. “I realized how much I’d learned about Korea, and how little I knew about the countries I was traveling in. I wanted to find a way to learn more meaningfully about what I was seeing as a visitor. So then I was riding on a tuk-tuk in Cambodia, talking to a friend of mine, when I thought: What if I could meet another Fulbrighter here? And visit their school, and meet their students – how great would that be? They’d be the perfect people to talk to and learn from.”
Realizing how little she knew about other Fulbright experiences, Gioja decided to take cross-cultural exchange to the next level and connect other ETAs through technology. Since its inception, ETAs from countries across the globe have joined the community and created meaningful connections. ETAs have visited schools, learned from one another through cross-cultural exchange, created pen pal programs, and used their expanded worldview in their classrooms, according to Gioja.
The ambitious ETA alumna was just getting started, too. By collaborating with other cohort lead platforms like South Korea’s Infusion and Indonesia’s Indonesiaful, Gioja is setting Fulbridge up to be the go-to website for Fulbrighters interested in increase their cross-cultural exchange.
“…I’d like to see Fulbridge have a presence in all the 70+ countries that Fulbright has a presence in,” said Goija. “You’d have a global network, both as an ETA and as alum, right at your fingertips, of people who have participated in this mission of cultural ambassadorship around the world. I think Fulbrighters can do great things together, if they think big, and find ways to connect and collaborate. I want Fulbridge to be that tool.”
It’s well on its way to becoming just that.
*ETAs are Fulbright Program English Teaching Assistants
*An earlier version of this article stated that Zoë Gioja was a South Korea ETA during 2015-2016. She was an ETA during 2014-2015. The article has been updated to reflect this information.
* Kayla Stewart is currently teaching at SMK Negeri Jawa Tengah in Semarang. She was inspired to teach English in Indonesia because she was interested in learning more about the role of media in the country and how diversity in the nation affects intercultural relationships. She studied journalism, Global International Studies, and African American Studies at the University of Houston. Kayla loves reading, running, watching basketball, traveling, fighting white supremacy, and checking out new coffee shops around the world.