CSB graduate finally gets to travel to India as Fulbright ETA
July 23, 2019
By Taylor Notsch ‘21
Editor’s note: This feature story on Marisela Weber ’19 is the fourth of six feature stories that will appear this summer on the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University website featuring graduates who received awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
What made Marisela Weber want to travel to India?
Her extensive research with Extending the Link’s 2018 documentary, “Nibi Eteg - Where the Water Is,” focused on the spiritual significance of water in India. After spending the summer of 2017 identifying a topic, area of focus and people and organizations to interview for the documentary, Weber became infatuated with the country. However, she did not get the opportunity to travel there through the ETL project.
“With the connections I made and through my research, my admiration and appreciation for the country grew. I yearned to travel in order to learn more about India,” Weber said.
The 2019 College of Saint Benedict graduate no longer needs to yearn. Thanks to an award from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Weber will be an English Teaching Assistant at CSI Jessie Moses Matriculation and Higher Secondary School in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, from late June until March 2020.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program places recent college graduates as English Teaching Assistants in schools and universities overseas. The ETAs improve international students’ English abilities and knowledge of the U.S., while enhancing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country. ETAs may also pursue individual study/research plans in addition to their teaching responsibilities.
Since 2013, 35 students or graduates from CSB and SJU have earned Fulbright ETA awards.
“The Fulbright program is important to me because of what it stands for and promotes,” Weber said. “The idea of ‘fostering mutual understanding’ is a beautiful concept. To me, fostering mutual understanding acknowledges the humanity in each of us and values what we have to offer the world and to one another.”
Weber has a lot to offer her new temporary home in India. Her experiences in ETL, combined with her English major and secondary education minor, make this program perfect for her.
“My hope is that through my ETA experience, I will be able to bring back stories, lessons and a greater sense of cultural awareness for my future students,” Weber said. “As an ETA in India, I hope to become a more understanding, compassionate and equitable educator.”
India will provide nourishment for those hopes but also bring the challenge of navigating a new culture. By teaching her own culture to her students, Weber, in return, will be able to learn more about theirs.
With around nine months to immerse herself in the country, she’s excited to learn about India in a whole new way.
“I have just as much to learn from my students as they have to learn from me,” Weber said.
CSB and SJU students interested in applying for a Fulbright Award for the 2020-21 academic year should contact Phil Kronebusch, professor of political science and coordinator of competitive fellowships at CSB and SJU, or Lindsey Gutsch, Program Coordinator for Undergraduate Research, Competitive Fellowships and First-Year Experience.