Taking the First Step: How I Found the Courage to be a Fulbrighter
Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a doctor and, at some point, study abroad. My mom used to tell me that one day I would travel and complete my master’s, and here I am years later completing my graduate studies on the Fulbright Program! I can honestly say that I owe everything I have accomplished so far to my mom; she has been a father, mother, friend, and a sister to me ever since my dad passed away when I was 6. When I was accepted into the program, I was afraid of leaving my home and leaving her behind, but she surprised me with an overwhelming amount of support and comfort. She always gives me the courage to chase my dreams.
My Fulbright journey started exactly at the right time. The process was not easy at first, but everything worked out in the way it was supposed to. The first challenge I had to face was finding the right physiotherapy program at a good university. In addition to that, I had to face the challenge of being a visibly Muslim girl in a non-Muslim country. Even though I was anxious to go to a Christian school such as Concordia University Wisconsin, I was pleasantly surprised to find curious and welcoming people at every turn. People always asked me questions about my hijab and my religion, which led to many intriguing discussions about our religions and backgrounds. I especially learned to love the compliments I received about how I match the color of my hijab to the color of my outfit. People tell me it looks elegant, and I can’t deny that I appreciate it!
Apart from being the only Muslim girl in my Rehabilitation Sciences Program, I was also the sole Fulbright Egyptian girl in my classes. I often felt this sense of responsibility to accurately represent my country to others. I wanted people to know that Egypt is more than pyramids and pharaohs, and I also wanted people to know that I was a dedicated and hardworking student. I was lucky enough to get the chance to give a presentation on Egypt during International Education Week. Before presenting, the manager of the International Center on campus told me to look out at the people who came to listen to me and to not be scared. He told me that this was something to be proud of, and that’s exactly how I gave my presentation. The encouraging words I heard from people afterwards were extremely rewarding. I never expected people to tell me that they now wanted to go to Egypt, just because of my presentation! It was such a great feeling.
I can now say without a doubt that I am thankful for each moment that I spend here thanks to the Fulbright Program and the great state of Wisconsin. Being here has introduced me to people with different perspectives other than my own as well as serving as a cultural ambassador for my country. I know that my time as a Fulbrighter will stay with me for the rest of my life, and it will always be something that I’ll take great pride in.
Pretty is a current Fulbrighter from Egypt. She is studying Rehabilitation Sciences at Concordia University Wisconsin.