This week has been crazy, filled with plenty of high highs and low lows. 

Being the one year anniversary of my time spent at The Nansen Center, I spent plenty of time this week reminiscing and reflecting on how Nansen and Peace Scholars changed my life. How the experience and more importantly, the people have changed how I see the world. These people: our mentors and teachers, the other Peace Scholars and friends I made in the program, have made the world a smaller place. At the end of the summer last year, I wrote that these people made me feel like the world was my home. They make me feel loved from every corner of the globe. 

These people also planted an important seed in my brain, that has now blossomed into my impending Fulbright experience. My ‘people’ from last summer were some of my biggest champions, my biggest cheerleaders through my Fulbright application process. I relied on my time at Nansen extensively throughout my application process as I reflected on dialogue processes and building bridges across cultures and divisions.

So it was odd this week, to reminisce about my time at Nansen while also beginning my Fulbright journey at my Pre-Departure orientation. PDO as we called it, was crazy and overwhelming. It was both reassuring and anxiety provoking. I had a crash course in teaching (to all my teacher friends out there…I learned ‘everything’ I need to know in 1.5 days but advice would be seriously appreciated right now). I was also oriented to Ukraine, to the other 27 Fulbrighters (6 ETAs and 21 researchers), and to the Fulbright program. In four days, they supposedly taught me everything I need to know.  While parts of it were terrifying, I am now feeling more prepared and know more about what I can expect has allowed me to start to get excited again.

A stroke of coincidence put these two events on the same week. One year apart.

And these two pieces, my Nansen anniversary and PDO, are intricately tied together. Many moments throughout the week I found myself feeling so grateful for the last year of my life. I know that I would not be going to Ukraine without the Peace Scholars program (aka the people I met) and I know that my teaching and my experience with my community in Ukraine will be influenced by my time in Norway and what I learned.

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