Exchange Programs Bring Culture and Diversity to Life For Grantees’ Families

September 27, 2012

When Michael Flamm left for Buenos Aires in July 2010, he had high hopes for his Fulbright Specialist Program. It wasn’t his first time in the city, nor was it his first experience as a Fulbright Specialist (in 2006 he co-taught a seminar on recent U.S. history for young Argentine leaders) but this time he would spend four months teaching modern U.S. history at the Universidad de San Andrés along with his wife  and two young children.

“Socially and culturally, our time in Argentina was extremely enriching both for me and my family,” says Michael. “Our children … developed an appreciation for cultural diversity and not to mention empanadas and dulce de leche.”

While Michael’s children were attending school with “Portenos,” (people born and raised in Buenos Aires) Michael was teaching modern U.S. history – and learning a great deal in the process.

“Teaching modern U.S. history … forced me to rethink certain basic assumptions I had long held and to see events from a more global perspective,” explains Michael. “This was particularly true of historical topics such as the Cold War, when U.S. actions looked quite different if viewed from South America rather than Western Europe.”

Michael’s lectures allowed him to extend his grant through travel, and he was able to visit Cordoba, La Plata, Rosario, Mendoza, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero.

“My travels placed me in contact with a broad range of professors, students, journalists, business people, and ordinary citizens who provided me with a wealth of insights into the history and culture of Argentina, while my presentations … gave me the kind of access to important government officials that historians in the U.S. rarely have,” says Michael.  

“… I left Argentina with only two regrets – that we had not spent twelve months there and that I had not pursued an overseas teaching experience a decade or two earlier.”

As a result of his experiences during the Fulbright Specialist Program, Michael’s family has since hosted an exchange student back in the United States, and Michael continues to encourage his own students in the United States to spend a semester in Argentina.