Fulbright Spotlight: Anna Marti (’22), English Teaching Assistant in Greece

Blog post by Eli Siegel-Bernstein (‘25), Fellowships Assistant 2023

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to expand the perspectives of recent graduates, graduate students, and young professionals through cross-cultural dialogue. Fulbright recipients travel to 140 partner countries each year to conduct research, teach English, or pursue graduate studies. But what does a Fulbright year look like from the Fulbrighter’s perspective? I recently had the privilege of speaking to Anna Marti, a Wesleyan graduate in the class of 2022. Anna is currently in Greece on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Scholarship and generously shared her insight into the Fulbright application process and her experience abroad.

Anna and two friends in Santorini

A Unique Fulbright ETA Placement

Anna’s Fulbright placement is at a private K-12 school called Athens College – Hellenic American Educational Foundation (HAEF). Working in both the counseling office and the classroom, Anna leads workshops on the U.S. college application process, helps students with personal statements, and conducts mock interviews. She also teaches writing workshops, presents historical and cultural context for course texts, and facilitates literary analysis of American novels as a teaching assistant in 10th and 11th grade English classes. Anna shared that her experience working as a senior admissions interviewer at Wesleyan contributed to her decision to pursue the ETA Fulbright at HAEF. Knowing that she was potentially interested in a career in higher education or college admissions, Anna was excited by the opportunity to work in HAEF’s college counseling office in addition to the classroom. 

Anna decided to apply for the ETA Scholarship at HAEF after being introduced to an alum of the program through a Wesleyan faculty member; through this connection, she was able to learn more about the program’s unique structure. In most partner countries, ETA Scholarships are divided between urban and rural areas with little programmatic oversight for housing and other logistics. In Greece, all ETAs are located in Athens and are placed under the supervision of an in-country Fulbright coordinator who facilitates Fulbrighters’ housing and helps with moving abroad. Anna shared that this not only minimized the logistical challenges of moving to Greece, but the Fulbrighters’ proximity to one another enabled them to create a tight-knit community. She talked about the amazing friendships she’s formed with her fellow ETAs, some of whom have become her closest friends, and pointed out the importance of considering the structure of a Fulbright program before applying. Some may want the structure provided by a close Fulbright cohort, while others will want more independence while abroad. Some other factors to consider are the size of a partner country; the distribution of host institutions in rural, suburban, and urban areas; and the total number of ETA and Study/Research Fulbright recipients.

Language and life: Making connections while abroad

In addition to her ETA position, Anna is taking weekly Greek classes to build upon her foundation in the language. She also frequents a local gym where she takes spin, Pilates, and yoga classes—all of which are taught in Greek. Although certainly rewarding, we discussed the challenges of being immersed in a non-English speaking country; for Anna, forming strong relationships with people outside of her school has been difficult because of the language barrier. Despite these challenges, Anna shared that she has enjoyed getting to know her neighbors and recognizing familiar faces in her Athens suburb. Anna and her ETA cohort have also gotten to know a group of Greek Fulbrighters that spent the previous year in the US. 

Anna’s Monday through Friday work schedule allows for ample opportunities to explore Athens and to take weekend trips outside of the city. During weekends in Athens, Anna enjoys the city’s many historical sites and ruins, countless museums, and delicious food. Other weekends, Anna travels throughout the Greek islands and to destinations around Europe. Some highlights include a trip to Santorini where she hiked a volcano and explored the island’s sulfur hot springs. Anna also went to Munich, Germany to tour the city’s vibrant Christmas markets this winter.

Anna’s application experience

Crafting a successful Fulbright application requires advanced planning and thorough research. Anna described the many iterations necessary to arrive at the essays she would ultimately submit to the Fulbright committee. It can take a long time to articulate your curiosities and future goals, and Anna emphasized the importance of allotting sufficient time. She encouraged establishing a connection with Wesleyan faculty and fellowship advisor early on in the application process. Getting to know these people is crucial for crafting a successful Fulbright application.

While Anna was applying for Fulbright, she also applied for an MA in American Studies at Brown University. Upon learning that she was selected for both the master’s program and Fulbright, Anna decided to defer her studies at Brown and accept her ETA Scholarship. Although applying for Fulbright can be a long and arduous process, Anna emphasized that writing these essays was immensely helpful for her application to graduate school. Anna is looking forward to returning to the US later this summer and beginning her master’s degree in Providence.