As Fulbright Visiting Students, we have the important responsibility of representing our country, sharing our beliefs and culture, and seeking mutual understanding. I am a PhD Student at Universidade Estadual Paulista Julio de Mesquita Filho (UNESP) in Brazil and I am a Visiting Student at the University of Washington on a Fulbright/ CAPES Scholarship. Last Monday, Martin Luther King Day, the Fulbright Association Greater Puget Sound Chapter organized an event. Fulbright Alumni and Visiting Fulbright Students went to Olympia, WA for a one-day trip and guided tour of the Washington State Capitol building. Robert Schafer, docent at the Capitol and member of the Fulbright Greater Puget Sound Chapter Board, was our guide.
We started the tour visiting some of the main rooms of the Capitol: State Reception Room, Senate Chamber, House Chamber. Robert Schafer shared interesting information and stories about the Capitol with us. After the tour, we met Matt Manweller, current Representative of the 13th Legislative District – Ellensburg and member of the Republican Party. He has a seat in both the Labor & Workplace Standards and Technology and Economic Development committees. He talked about his responsibilities and about recent rally at the capitol, in which teachers demanded better school funding from lawmakers and equitable education for all.
The Governor's Director of International Relations Schuyler Hoss gave us a clarifying view of the relations between the Washington State and states from other countries. He explained that the Washington State has the supported of the Federal Government until now, but they have some concerns about the new scenario after the presidential inauguration. It was also the opportunity to advocate the Fulbright Program and its impact for international relations. Lastly, Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens met us at the State’s Supreme Court Room, where she explained how they choose the cases and what is the role of Supreme Court; she also shared some information about her routine.
As Fulbrighters, we always hear that our most important role is to be ambassadors of our home countries and that this is a challenging responsibility. In the occasion, we learned more about the organization of the Washington State and met other students and alumni from different countries. It was a great opportunity to share our thoughts, research topics and stories during the activity organized by the Fulbright Association Great Puget Sound Chapter board.