A Year in the Fulbright Life: Christelle’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.

December 2020

With many holiday activities closed due to COVID, my friend and I went to Winter Wonderlights as a fun little trip. We were able to see holiday lights in Greensboro. It was a magical experience.

Things are always hectic with me; I enjoy it a lot, but it can get tiring though…

January 2021

On MLK Service Day, I decided to volunteer on my campus with Operation Gratitude. We made 140 paracord bracelets to be sent to military members. I was a site leader responsible for 16 students (eight per shift). The bracelets double as survival tools because they can be unraveled in case of an emergency, providing the military personnel with seven feet of paracord that they can work with. I also led icebreakers and reflections to celebrate Martin Luther King.

I also helped with Spears as a student leader volunteer during the Spring 2021 Orientation to help new students adapt to campus and find their way. It’s been great to get involved on my campus and make new friends.

February 2021

I was accepted into the Civic Engagement Academy at UNCG, which introduces students to political life in the United States and allows them to have constructive dialogues with each other. We have the first event on the 10th of this month which, also happens to be my birthday! I also started the Silver Leadership Challenge. This is where I get one-on-one support from a Leadership Development Coach on campus. At the same time, we are gathering articles for our departmental journal, of which I am the managing editor. I still am busy volunteering with the CNNC and attend the CNNC fellow meetings.

Today, I made one of our traditional Lebanese dishes, Tabbouleh. I shared it with my roommate and my neighbor. It was nice to have a taste of something from back home! I am always amazed by the ability of food to connect people with each other, their communities, and ancestors!

My Graduate Assistantship supervisor passed by my apartment in the afternoon of my birthday and gave me a heart-shaped sugar cookie stuffed with whipped cream and sprinkles. She also gifted me the beige bag containing a pair of socks, a scented candle, some chocolate, and a very sweet letter!

In the evening, my roommate and one of our mutual friends surprised me with a lemon-flavored cake that they had baked together and a birthday present.

I think this was the first normal holiday that I’ve actually celebrated here in the United States. It was nice. I had meetings, activities, work, and studies all day from 6 a.m. till 7:30 p.m., and I resumed studying after 8:30 p.m., but in that hour in between, things were truly nice and peaceful.

Also, the Arts and Culture Committee, which I am a member of, surprised me with a virtual cake.

March 2021

OLCE selected me as their student Change Maker for the month of March!

My friend and neighbor, Merve, and I planned to go to the Sea Life aquarium this month. We were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that it is part of a big mall called Concord Mills. We ended up spending the day at the mall, then had some dinner at a restaurant in Downtown Charlotte called Stir and came back to Greensboro… all in a day!

The stingray pictures took me a long time to get because of the glow of the aquarium and the stingrays being so fast! Their underside is beautiful, so I just had to capture it!

I attended a socially distanced in-person cooking workshop with UNCG, hosted by the UNCG Recreation and Wellness Center! We made a traditional Greek salad and Greek hummus. Jill, the workshop leader who is also a nutritionist at UNCG, is married to a trained chef who works at a Greek restaurant. It was really fun, and I learned a lot of cool knife tricks like chopping as fast as a chef and using the knife to crush garlic which makes it peel easier and releases its flavor.

April 2021

April was busy as usual! This first picture is from my attendance at the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum. This year, due to the pandemic, it was virtual. Even though it was not as exciting as being at the United Nations, it was still interesting and inspiring. In many ways, it is an example of defying the pandemic and brought to light many issues related to infrastructure and WiFi inaccessibility while exploring the way forward towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals

This was taken at the Graduate Student Association’s Grubhub event. It was held in the parking lot of the Joint School of Nanoengineering and Nanosciences. It was the closest that we have been to normalcy. We were socially distanced, but we were able to chat together while waiting for our Mac and Cheese meals.

My classmate Marc (pictured right) and I had agreed to meet at the Grubhub event and then support a third classmate, Grace (pictured in the middle), by attending her MFA Thesis exhibition. This was the first time we all met in person as our class is online this semester. Marc and I grabbed food, went to a lovely park, ate, and then we headed to the exhibition. Grace tied our classroom theories and knowledge to art in a beautiful way through storytelling! Marc even brought a bottle of champagne

I won the North Carolina Association of International Educators Volunteer Award. The awards ceremony was recent and I was officially given the award during it (even though I had received the plaque weeks before). The award was given for “Outstanding Service and Leadership in International Education.”

I also received my first shot of the Moderna vaccine, with the second one scheduled for April 15th. This is the pin I got!

In celebration of Holi (which is the Indian festival of colors), the International Programs Center organized an outdoor event in Foust Park which included painting shirts and throwing homemade colored powders around. Here is the shirt I made representing my journey as a Lebanese Fulbrighter who will graduate from UNCG in 2022.

Christelle is a first-year Fulbright student from Lebanon. She is studying Conflict and Peace Studies at UNC Greensboro.

Follow updates from Christelle 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 Christelle does this year!

Fulbright Foreign Student Program in MENA blog. Sponsored by U.S. Dept of State. https://www.amideast.org/our-work/find-a-scholarship/graduate-study/fulbright