I felt lucky enough to be accepted as a Fulbright Fellow, but to be welcomed and oriented to Mexico in the fashion we were received in Mexico City was very special. I was inspired and enthralled by hearing from and meeting the 86 other Fulbright student and fellow researchers, student and fellow teachers, and binational business program participants during our 4-day orientation. We got to see many cultural sites like Teotihuacan (the pyramid of the sun and moon) and el Palacio Nacional; and we even attended a special cocktail event at the residence of US Ambassador Anthony Wayne!
I also feel fortunate to have found a Fulbright affiliate who has set me up with everything I need in the form of housing, but more importantly in the lab, by connecting me with expects at CICIMAR, the marine science graduate institution where I am researching. In consulting with other faculty, and auditing a stable isotopes course (the field of my research) I have gained much knowledge already, but I also have been able to contribute knowledge from my research experiences and degree in chemistry to my academic affiliate and others working in my lab. I am currently doing methodology research and experiments regarding how I will be chemically treating my Blue Marlin fin spine samples, so that they can be analyzed for stable isotopes. With those results I hope to publish in a marine science journal.
In addition to the lab work I am doing, my affiliate has included me in field research opportunities, which are important experiences to have. I was at sea for 10 days on a research cruise where we were tagging Mahi Mahi (Dorado), and the Monterrey Bay Aquarium was also on the cruise collecting fish for their exhibits. With that experience I did my first deep-sea fishing, and caught my first tuna (and they made me eat its heart)! I also had an opportunity to help another faculty with Dorado and Striped Marlin tissue sampling in Cabo San Lucas (not far from La Paz).
My life in La Paz, Baja California Sur is distinctly different from those who are living in Mexico City or other parts of mainland Mexico. The culture here is going to the beach, spearfishing, going off-roading with dune buggies, SCUBA diving and camping in the desert among other outdoor activities. So I have taken it upon myself to have the most diverse experience I can, and get to know as many parts of Mexico as I can, following Fulbright Mexico mission to be cultural ambassadors.
Two weeks ago, a group of Fulbrighters got together and attended Cervantino, a 40 year-old music, culture, and arts festival in Guanajuato. The city has cultural significance apart from this famous festival for being the site of the first rebellions against colonial rule. We saw incredible performances from jazz quartets to acrobatics. The city was gorgeous to walk around its cobblestone streets lined with brightly painted houses, and see the sculptures and fountains hiding around the corners of the winding hilly streets.
This past weekend more Fulbrighters and I traveled to Morelia to observe a traditional celebration of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and then to participate in the 10th International Morelia Film Festival. We were able to see the traditional altars in Patzcuaro (a nearby town), and the more contemporary festivities in Morelia with lots of paper mache skeletons and decorations. The film festival was an exciting atmosphere. It was particularly special to see the films in the various Mexican competition classes. Some screenings even had question and answer sessions after with the directors, actors and crew.
It’s clear that the Fulbright not only opens doors academically, but the connections made within the group of grantees only makes the link to Mexico stronger, and the experience more meaningful.