Miriam Hauser '13
Miriam Hauser was an Honors English major with a minor in Islamic Studies. After graduating, she spent a year interning at the American University in Cairo before going to graduate school where she completed a master’s of social work with an international focus at University of Chicago’s Social Services Administration. For her fieldwork, Miriam interned at Heartland Health Outreach’s I-FACES program, which is a mental health program for refugees. At Heartland Health she facilitated therapy sessions, did case management, and co-facilitated a support group for refugee women. Miriam first became interested in refugee issues in high school when her mother began teaching English to adult refugees in Maryland. She continued her passionate pursuit of refugee rights and empowerment in her Fulbright, in which she researched the coordination of mental health services for urban refugees in Jordan.
What’s something you wish you’d known while you were applying for Fulbright?
I actually first applied for an ETA Fulbright in Bahrain when I was a senior at Swarthmore, but was ultimately rejected – and in retrospect, I could not be more relieved. I think with these fellowships, it’s important not to apply just for the sake of the prestige. Before applying, it’s important to give thought and consideration to the difficulties of living abroad and to whether the country you’re applying to is actually somewhere you’d like to live. Look into the opportunities and resources that are available in the city you would be living in; would you be able to pursue your non-academic interests there as well? Do you think you would be available to find a good support network in that city? And then, give deep thought to the project you’re applying with and whether it is actually something you’re interested in doing; don’t apply for something you’re half-hearted about, because it will come through during the interview process and it will affect how much you enjoy your fellowship.
I learned that I don’t want to become a researcher – though I think I already knew that. I would tell those about to embark on similar fellowships abroad: don’t expect things to go as planned! Be open to the fact that your research is probably going to shift over the course of the year, that the resources you thought you would have access to might not be available, and that the organizations you thought you would partner with might have very different priorities from what you expected. I think that every Fulbrighter has to develop a degree of flexibility.
How did your Swarthmore network or experience help you with the application process and transition out of college?
When I was applying for the Fulbright to Bahrain, the Fellowship Office at Swarthmore provided me with a lot of support and advice both when I was working on my application and after, when I was waiting to hear back and considering what else to apply for. Because I was in grad school when I applied for my Fulbright to Jordan, I went through the University of Chicago’s fellowship office, but I retained all the things I had learned during my first application process: start your application early, dedicate a significant amount of time to revising, and ask people in your academic support network to review your application.
I moved to Egypt only a couple of months after graduating college, and though I was excited to be in Cairo, I was also deeply homesick at first. Though I developed a strong and supportive group of friends in Egypt, Skype sessions and Facebook message thread with my closest Swarthmore friends were what really helped me cope with initial feelings of isolation and loneliness and any bumps I experienced over the course of the year.
My Swarthmore network also helped me get my position in Cairo to begin with; two Swarthmore alums had been part of the American University in Cairo internship program the year before me, and they told me about the program and gave me advice when I was considering whether to accept the position and later, when I was preparing to head out to Egypt.