Our Story

Michaela, Lara, and Tim, the co-founders of Fulbright Prism, in 2018.

Michaela, Lara, and Tim, the co-founders of Fulbright Prism, in 2018.

In September 2016, Michaela Gill, Tim Sensenig, and Lara Steinike met for their Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Orientation at Maria in der Aue in Wermelskirchen, Germany. They learned all about how to open a bank account, how to register at their local university, and how to navigate the infamous German bureaucratic system. They also discovered that all three of them were queer.

Returning to Hamburg, their new home, they began searching for queer German community and for queer organizations they could support through their grant period. Unfortunately, breaking into the queer community in Hamburg was more difficult than they had imagined. They volunteered for the International Queer Film Festival in October 2016, but still felt they had no coherent support network or access to LGBTQ resources. Nonetheless, they had found each other, and remained close after their grants were over.

Almost two years later, the three Fulbrighters found @fulbrightnoir on Instagram and knew instantly that LGBTQ Fulbrighters should have a similar platform to share their achievements, stories, and experiences with one another and the broader Fulbright community. In June, 2018 they started Fulbright Prism on Instagram (@fulbrightprism). Soon thereafter they realized that many LGBTQ Fulbrighters prefer to stay anonymous, especially in countries less welcoming to LGBTQ identities. Consequently, their platform had to offer something in addition to social media if it was going to create the community they sought.

In September 2018 at the inaugural European Fulbright Diversity Initiative Conference in Berlin, Germany, the three announced that they were pursuing nonprofit status and would be growing Prism’s objectives. In addition to highlighting the amazing stories of queer Fulbrighters on Instagram, they would begin pooling resources, maintaining a list of contacts for networking, and planning Fulbright Prism conferences. Recognized as a United States 501(c)(3) organization in March 2019, Fulbright Prism remains focused on these three objectives.