A Year in the Fulbright Life: Fransisco’s Story

FulbrightMENA
8 min readNov 2, 2022

Fulbright MENA showcases a handful of students as they study in the United States with their series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Throughout the year, spotlighted students will share updates as they fulfill their Fulbright journey.

August/ September 2022

Posing at the airport, before leaving my home country, Lebanon.

I loved exploring the campus at MSU and downtown Bozeman, and I took some pictures with the international students’ office employees. I have also been attending educational events on and off campus. The most important one was the career fair on campus, where I got to meet some of the world’s best companies (for example Boeing) and share my background and expertise with them.

I was able to attend drag shows in downtown Bozeman and on campus. I really enjoyed this because back home I haven’t had the chance to attend any drag shows. I am on the committee of the drag show that happened on my campus, with the help of the Queer/Straight Alliance Club.

Below is a picture of my trip to Yellowstone with the international students’ office. I made friends with a lot of international students!

October 2022

For Halloween, I went to several costume parties and haunted houses across Bozeman, Montana.

I attended my first hockey game and cheered for one of my classmates.

I was able to participate in some fall activities at Rocky Creek Farm in the Gallatin Valley, including pumpkin carving.

Pumpkin carving

This month, I also donated blood on campus.

I had a lot of fun experiencing the Montana winter and first snow of the season.

In preparation for ski season, I went ski gear shopping at the annual ski swap expo.

I had the opportunity to do a presentation for one of my classes.

December 2022

At the end of our semester, our cohort decided to end the semester on a high note. We had a cozy prom-like night, which felt like the perfect way to wrap things up! It was so relaxing to have a night to just dance and eat, and of course exchange gifts!

I also had the chance to take advantage of the snowy weather in Bozeman to visit the states most famous ski slopes. I was able to improve my ski skills, plus, it was a huge bonus to just enjoy the beautiful and snowy scenery! Later, Bozeman only became more beautiful during its annual tradition of “The Christmas Stroll”. The city lights up downtown with Bozeman themed Christmas decorations, and the whole town is filled with food, singing, and Santa Claus! It was a great opportunity to feel connected to the community.

January 2023

I enjoyed celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with my international friends, where I made special Lebanese dishes such as tabbouleh for them to try.

End of year holidays

February 2023

In February, I attended the Fulbright Foreign Student Enrichment Seminar 2023 in Nashville. I got to meet fellow Fulbrighters from all over the world where we shared stories and experiences. We explored Nashville, from one beautiful site to the next: Capitol Hill of Nashville, Broadway street, Musicians Hall of Fame. I also got the chance to share my story about my experience here in the United States with everyone, alongside doing some meaningful community service. It was truly an unforgettable experience of mutual connection and appreciation for the world we live in!

Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Nashville

During this month, I also shared Lebanese delicacies and sweets at my work in the office of international programs at Montana State University.

Sharing Lebanese delicacies with my colleagues

To celebrate the beginning of the new semester, I met with international friends, and we went bowling and dancing!

Bowling

I really enjoy visiting the snowy trails and hiking the icy mountains in Bozeman. I even celebrated my birthday under the snow!

March 2023

In March, I went to Washington, D.C. for the Fulbright Reentry Workshop 2023.

Reentry at Washington, DC

During spring break, I fulfilled my dream of visiting San Francisco. I spent my days exploring some of the most famous tourist sites, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Additionally, I visited the vibrant neighborhood of Castro, where I immersed myself in the city’s LGBTQ+ culture and got the chance of a lifetime to watch my favorite drag artist, Sasha Velour, who was a 2010 US Fulbright scholar to Russia, live and in action.

My trip to San Francisco

April 2023

My time at Montana State University has been nothing short of transformative, filled with enriching experiences, valuable connections, and personal growth. Through my continued work with the Office of International Programs, I had the privilege of organizing a remarkable two-day international event in partnership with the UNA-USA Bozeman chapter titled “Building Bridges.”

The event focused on discussing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their significance in shaping a better future for all. On the first day, we engaged in thought-provoking discussions, exploring various aspects of the SDGs and brainstorming actionable steps to promote their implementation. It was truly inspiring to witness the passion and dedication of the attendees who came from diverse backgrounds but shared a common vision of global progress.

The second day of the event was a celebration of cultural diversity. We hosted captivating cultural presentations, where I had the opportunity to represent Lebanon through my eyes. I showcased the beauty of my homeland, its vibrant traditions, and the rich tapestry of its history. This event marked the first of its kind on campus, creating a platform for international students and the local community to engage in meaningful discussions, foster mutual understanding, and cultivate lasting connections.

The success of this event exceeded all expectations, gaining recognition beyond the university campus. Our efforts were featured in the university’s prestigious magazine, as well as other local publications, highlighting the importance of cultural diversity and the impact we made in promoting intercultural dialogue. Read the article here.

To my astonishment, my journey was also showcased as a success story on the university’s graduate school website. The article highlighted my academic accomplishments, personal growth, and the profound impact Montana State University and I had on each other. It is an honor to be recognized as an example of the remarkable opportunities offered by the Fulbright Program and the transformative power of international education. Read the article here and here.

May 2023

Everything culminated in May during an unforgettable celebration of graduation. As a testament to my commitment to representing Lebanon and the international student community, I was invited by the school president to hold the Lebanese flag during the graduation commencement’s opening ceremony. It was a moment of immense pride and honor, standing at the forefront of my peers, embodying the spirit of cultural exchange and unity.

But the pinnacle of this momentous occasion came when I walked across the stage, with the Lebanese flag draped around my neck, to receive my well-deserved diploma. The culmination of years of hard work and dedication, this proud moment solidified my belief in the transformative power of education and the limitless possibilities it offers.

Reflecting on my Fulbright journey, I am profoundly grateful for the generosity and support of the Fulbright Program, whose belief in my potential made all of this possible. As I return home, I am filled with a sense of purpose and determination to create a lasting impact on the world. This is not the end of my journey; rather, it is the beginning of a new chapter filled with aspirations, dreams, and unwavering commitment.

Stay tuned for more updates on my future endeavors as I embark on this exciting new phase. With the Fulbright Program as my foundation, I am ready to tackle the challenges ahead and leave an indelible mark on the world.

Remember, it is through embracing our differences, celebrating diversity, and nurturing global connections that we can create a more inclusive and harmonious world. Together, let us strive for a brighter future, one where cultural understanding and cooperation transcend borders.

Fransisco is a 2022 Fulbrighter from Lebanon. He studies Innovation and Management at Montana State University.

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

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