Zainab Mousa-Makky, who received a BA in international relations and ethics and public policy from the University of Iowa in May 2020, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Morocco for 2020-21
Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
Award: 2020-21 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Morocco
Degree: BA in international relations and ethics and public policy, minor in Arabic
Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?
As a Fulbright recipient, I will be teaching English in a public Moroccan university. To engage with university students and community members outside of classes, I will be hosting a weekly conversation group. I hope to create a space where Moroccan students will be able to bring their unique backgrounds to discussions while practicing their English-speaking skills.
What drew you to this field of study?
My early experiences with the large Sudanese community in Iowa City influenced my areas of study. While tutoring Arabic and French-speaking immigrants in English and volunteering at the food bank, I became drawn to issues in international relations regarding Middle Eastern and North African countries. During a study abroad program in Fez, Morocco, in the summer of 2018, I realized that I wanted a deeper understanding of educational equity and bilingualism. Philosophy and history courses at the University of Iowa, including my Arabic classes with Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Adil El Megaless, made me realize that I want to help shape educational policies that create classrooms that support all students.
"The experience I gain as an ETA in Morocco will make me more culturally aware and sensitive to improvements in public education in light of discrimination, safety, and cultural barriers."
How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?
As an English teaching assistant, I aspire to undergo professional growth as an educator. My time in Morocco will introduce me to alternative perspectives of compassion and friendship inside and outside of the classroom. After law school, I hope to become a school administrator who shapes educational policy in bilingual classrooms. The experience I gain as an ETA in Morocco will make me more culturally aware and sensitive to improvements in public education in light of discrimination, safety, and cultural barriers.
What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?
Get involved! Find a community group or a student organization that makes you happy and JOIN! The Fulbright application process can be daunting, but one of the many things that I learned from Dr. Karen Wachsmuth was it is kind of like telling a story. Specifically, your story. Writing my essays became easier when I knew what I was writing about--a culmination of my life and college experiences that brought me to Fulbright.
What experiences at the UI inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
Throughout my four years, I joined many clubs and groups at the University of Iowa and in the Iowa City community. The most memorable ones were the African Student Association, Iowa City Compassion, the Crisis Center's food bank, English tutoring at Kirkwood Community college, and serving as a mentor at City High. These groups and spaces allowed me to have deeper and insightful conversations with the people there. I learned more about myself and developed an appreciation for my hyphenated identity as a Sudanese-American. Working as a student assistant in the Office of Study Abroad is where I also learned how important one's cultural intelligence is in developing a nuanced understanding of others. These experiences paired with my first study abroad experience (Morocco - summer of 2018) inspired me to apply for an ETA there.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
YES! There are so many people that I owe my deepest gratitude for believing in me and showing me kindness throughout this process and my years at the University of Iowa. My advisor, Martha Kirby, was the first person to encourage me to apply for the Fulbright. Teresa Kout, my lovely friend at the study abroad office, was the second. I want to thank my wonderful recommenders: Julia LaBua, Adil El Megaless, Sarah Bond, and Asma Ben Romdhane. To Dr. Karen Wachsmuth and Marie Synofzick, you ladies absolutely rock! Especially for connecting me with the amazing Hodna Nuernberg (2017-18 UI Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Morocco) who opened her arms to me from the very first email. I'm so blessed to have these individuals and my family in my corner. Thank you all!
Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance. Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).