Amna Haider, who received a BA in international relations and philosophy from the University of Iowa in 2022, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Turkey for 2023-24.
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Degree: BA, international relations and philosophy; certificate in human rights
Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?
I will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Turkey (Türkiye) from September 2023 to June 2024. In this role, I will primarily be teaching English classes at a developing state university and serving as a cultural ambassador of the United States for my Turkish students and the greater campus community. Meanwhile, I also hope to promote multicultural activities on campus, lead an English-based philosophy/debate club, and volunteer at a local nonprofit in my (to be determined) city.
How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?
This will be my first substantial professional experience abroad as I was never able to study nor work anywhere outside Nebraska and Iowa while I was in college. This opportunity will surely boost my personal growth as an aspiring professional and help me develop communication skills fit for settings beyond the American Midwest. Moreover, when I 'grow up,' I want to pursue international-oriented work that will provide aid and consultation to victims of conflict, and to organizations that seek to uphold (inter)national security and justice through the rule of law. Fulbright will offer me a diplomatic platform where I can grow and tap into an international advocacy network that is present within this field. I will also have the chance to practice 'citizen diplomacy' and build relationships within Türkiye, the world's cultural crossroads!
What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?
The writing process is your friend, not a chore. Use the months leading up to the deadline(s) to brainstorm ideas, outline, write drafts, show them to people you know, and continue rewriting them upon receiving revisions. Don't be afraid to write any and all possible ideas out with every draft--the UI Fulbright team will help you find the ones that stick. In the same breath, the application process may seem long--but time is a gift! With every draft of any application essay you write, give yourself ample time to step away from your computer and come back to it later. In this way, you'll ALWAYS find new ways of improving your writing following these periods of rest.
Were there experiences at the UI that inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
There were too many to count! I have participated in a myriad of multicultural activities and programming on campus that affirmed my appreciation for cultural exchange and celebration. For example, my engagement with the Walk It Out multicultural fashion show and attendance at events hosted by cultural organizations like MENASA and SASA are a few of MANY opportunities I seized that left me craving more cultural enrichment. I also remember attending a UI Fulbright Student Awardee Panel back in 2019 hosted by the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, a phenomenal organization I interned at during my time at Iowa. This was the first time I was able to really learn about Fulbright, and seeing the excitement of my peers who were awarded it, stuck with me over the years up into my decision to apply this year. All this, paired with very encouraging classroom conversations about the value of a Fulbright Scholarship from my professors like Ambassador McMullen, reflect the impetus supporting my pursuit for this opportunity.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
I would like to thank Professor Brian Lai, Professor Carol Severino, and my former supervisor/Catlett Hall Coordinator Alejandro Rico for kindly recommending me for this award. It was an absolute pleasure working with each of them in several different spaces throughout my time as a Hawkeye, and their care-driven mentorship proved indispensable to my success as a thinker, campus leader, and mentor for other students. I would also like to express my appreciation for Dr. Karen Wachsmuth, Dr. Ari Natarina, and Professor William Reisinger, as they spent countless hours reading my application drafts, providing valuable written comments, and meeting with me over Zoom as I perfected my application. To the grander UI team supporting Fulbright candidates such as myself, like Professor Aron Aji who provided a Turkish language evaluation, and Brett Cloyd who advised my search for resources that helped me deepen my understanding of Türkiye, I want to thank you for all that you do! Finally, I want to thank the past and current UI Fulbrighters I reached out to who sent me encouraging words and bits of advice throughout the application process. As the saying goes, it takes a village!
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.