In and out: German Fulbright students reflect on time at Trinity

In 2015, San Antonio launched Discover America Via San Antonio (DASA), a student exchange program created jointly by Trinity University and the German-American Fulbright Commission in Berlin. The 13 German students who participated in the 2017 DASA program were living in Trinity residence halls attending classes from Aug. 14 until Sept. 2.

Peter O’Brien, professor of political science, is a major organizer for the program. He explains the value of studying in San Antonio for the Fulbright students, each of whom come from a family of immigrants to Germany.

“The Fulbright Commission is interested in promoting students of a migration program, which means they have at least one parent born outside of Germany,” O’Brien said. “They’re very interested in promoting their study in the United States, so this program was designed to give them a taste of university life in the hopes that they will apply in subsequent years for an entire semester or an entire year.”

The program lasts for three weeks and is designed to immerse the students as fully as possible in American life and culture. Trinity decided to put them through the full International Student Orientation and the First-Year Orientation program in addition to sitting in on a few classes during the first week of classes.

“These students are, with only one exception, recent high school graduates who are starting their university education this fall in October,” O’Brien said. “I think what distinguishes our program from other Fulbright programs is that we were able to organize Trinity roommates. They have an English-speaking roommate, which is very helpful in improving their English.”

While at Trinity, they also have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Trinity culture. The program has organized both academic and social activities for the students.

“I really liked our program so far, not only because of excellent guest lectures, but also due to the fact that we have been in direct contact with Trinity University interns from the very beginning,” said Jonas Vujcic, a 2017 DASA student who calls the German state of Bavaria home. “I had the most fun while tubing down the river because sometimes I still feel like a 5-year-old child.”

Roya Banaeian Jahromi, a Fulbright student of Iranian descent, hails from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Jahromi was enthralled by the experience.

“All in all it was a completely unreal journey and it kind of made me feel like Trinity University and studying in the US is another world that is very different to the one I live in, but to be able to live here for 3 weeks and be part of this world is an unforgettable experience,” Jahromi said. “Things here are so different to what they’re like at home, but it was so unique and amazing to see this.”

Though Banaeian and Jahromi have just left Trinity, the Fulbright program continues. Another 13 students from Germany just arrived on Sept. 4 and will be living among Tigers until Sept. 24.