BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
In early January, 11 students from various cities in Argentina arrived at Mount. Holyoke College as part of the Friends of Fulbright program. The exchange grants Argentinian students the opportunity to study at various institutions in the United States for 6 to 8 weeks. For the 2017 program, 121 scholars were accepted into the program and are studying in various states throughout the U.S.
The U.S. Embassy states that the goal of the program is to give "Argentine undergraduate students the chance to attend classes at an accredited U.S. university and share the experience of living and studying with students from the United States and other countries." This is only the second year that Fulbright has offered this program and the second year that it has collaborated with Mount Holyoke.
Junior Cecilia Malnis, who is studying social communications, said that earning this scholarship was "a good way of seeing all my efforts pay off." Malnis said that her personal goals were "to learn about and immerse [herself] in the educational system and improve [her] English." The experience has also inspired her to write a thesis related to studying in a women's college, a project for which she hopes to gather more information while in the U.S.
A major difference between U.S. and Argentinian education for many of the scholars is the teacher-student dynamic. In Argentina, most students attend large universities that usually have larger lecture-style classes and involve fewer interactions between professors and students. Malnis finds a more personal relationship with a professor to be valuable and said, "The professor just saying your name and being willing to read your essay and give you specific feedback is rewarding and I find it very fulfilling."
Here at Mount Holyoke, Malnis has been able to take classes that directly appeal to both her interests and the subject of her future thesis in the gender studies department. During Intercession, she enrolled in a stage combat course where she learned how to choreograph fight scenes and present them. "In Argentina those kinds of things don't exist," she said, "so I had a lot of fun."
Malnis believes that she will leave this experience with a greater understanding of what it means to pursue education as a woman. She has been inspired by the many confident students she has met and hopes to continue to improve her own leadership skills in order to "continue being an example for other female students in Argentina."
Argentine universities are also more career focused. Acquiring a diploma can take from four to seven years depending on the desired occupation. Senior Carli Guglielmo studies public relations and explained that in Argentina she "follows a study schedule determined by the university."
"There is no doubt that this experience will enrich not only my academic experience but also my personal life," Guglielmo reflected. "I believe these types of events that involve sharing with people from different countries and customs are life changing and will be cherished my entire life."
Guglielmo also hopes to make an impact on her own university in the future. "I want to give to my university something in return for what it has given me in terms of academic background, opportunities for personal growth and constant improvement."
Antonella D'Amelio, an Educational Sciences student, expressed similar sentiments and added, "I'm learning more about Argentina too, because I am sharing this experience with 10 other students from different provinces of my country."
The exchange has offered the scholars a unique international academic experience, while also allowing them to take part in the non-academic aspects of university life in the U.S.