We Are the “They” That Can Change the World: My Hult Prize Experience

I have always been passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Studying economics as an undergrad exposed me to the field’s power and how it can be used as a tool More »

A Year of Knee Research and Social Outreach in the Rainbow Nation

My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties More »

Detecting Gravitational Waves at Home and Abroad

Two months ago, physicists around the world were set ‘chirping’ with the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected for the first time. The detection is the culmination of decades of work, More »

Faces of Williamson, West Virginia: A Photo Essay

I’ve only been in Williamson, West Virginia for 48 hours and even though it’s not enough time to have a deep sense of everything that is happening in town, I’ve found a More »

 

Searching for Gold: Rescuing Memories in Rural Nicaragua

Lauren Schenkman, 2015-2016, Nicaragua

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Alex Mercado, an English teacher, interviewed his grandfather, Rodolfo Aguilar, about fighting in the Nicaraguan civil war.

As a child growing up in California, I loved hearing my mother talk about Siuna, the small town in Nicaragua where she grew up. Chickens ran around in her family’s yard, and they drank milk fresh from the cow. And when it rained, she said, the streets glittered with gold pebbles.

Almost twenty years later, I found myself on a run-down porch in Siuna with an 82-year-old man. As a rooster crowed, he told me the same story.

I was on my Fulbright year, doing research for a novel about Siuna. Not only was it the fairy-tale place of my mother’s stories; from about 1900 until 1979, it was home to an important gold mine owned by Americans and Canadians—hence the legend about gold in the streets. Siuna was essentially a company town; the North American staff lived in a luxurious, fenced-in zone on a hill, and most of the locals were miners, mechanics, and office workers. Today, all that remains are a few ruins, the green-and-white company bungalows, and a polluted lagoon—the former open-pit mine—where prospectors still pan for gold.

From town elders I heard happy recollections of bygone days—a well-stocked commissary, company parties—as well as tragic stories of mining accidents and economic depression after the company left. In order to share my findings, I worked with Professor Luis Gonzalo Herrera Siles at the local university, URACCAN, on a course combining history, narrative, and English learning. Each student—nine English teachers, ranging from age 20 to 38, and two college students—was to research and produce a podcast in Spanish, then translate into English. One pair talked to former miners about life underground; another student interviewed his father, a farmer who’d been caught in the 1980s Contra war. Another spoke with his wheelchair-bound friend about the incident that had paralyzed him.

Street Kid Takes Flight: From Dark Streets to Northern Lights

By Zane Thimmesch-Gill, 2008-2009, Canada

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Zane Thimmesch-Gill, 2008-2009, Canada, visiting Glacier National Park

I’m excited to announce that my debut book, Hiding in Plain Sight, was just nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. It follows a homeless female-to-male trans kid as he struggles to survive on the streets. The book is an important resource for adults trying to understand the inner lives of at-risk children, and an inspiring story for vulnerable youth who dream of escaping poverty and violence. It’s also a plain ole exciting adventure story. The book is available through Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes.

And I couldn’t have written it without the invaluable experience of the Fulbright Program.

As a young adult, I lived on the streets. After years of struggling with extreme poverty and violence, I managed to get through college and graduate school. Although it might sound weird, once I escaped the streets, I started to miss them; no matter where you come from there’s something comforting in the known.

Five Tips for Fulbright Applicants and Grantees from a Fulbright Alumnus to Colombia

By Nick Brown, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Colombia

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Nick Brown, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Colombia

Are you considering applying to or have you recently been awarded a Fulbright grant? If so, this article is for you.

I just completed a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Colombia. Since the experience was the best year of my life, I want to share five tips to help you with your application and/or grant.

Tips one and two are for applicants while tips three through five are for current grantees, and may also be useful to Fulbright hopefuls.

Fulbright U.S. Student Alumna and Author Deanna Fei (2003-2004, China) Shares How Her Book Girl in Glass Evolved and Offers Advice for Prospective Applicants

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Deanna Fei, 2003-2004, China

Can you tell us about Girl in Glass, and how that book came about?

GIRL IN GLASS is the story of my daughter’s birth, nearly four months premature–and how I learned to be the mother of a child I knew I could lose at any moment. The book also explores, in a larger societal context, what it means to sustain a life: from the front lines of neonatal intensive care units to the perils of the American health care system to the force of a child’s will to live.

For a long time, I was so steeped in the trauma surrounding my daughter’s arrival that I couldn’t imagine ever telling this story. Then, a year after I brought her home from the hospital, the CEO of my husband’s company publicly blamed her for being a drag on the bottom line and slapped a price tag on her life, setting off a national firestorm. It was only then, as the circumstances of her birth became the subject of countless headlines, that I realized I needed to speak out to defend the basic worth of her life.

Melding Art & Science Draws Fulbrighter into Community of Kindred Spirits

By Janet Rafner, 2015-2016, Denmark

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Janet Rafner, 2015-2016, Denmark (center) with fellow Fulbright U.S. Student Natalie Hoidal (left) and Truman Fellow Jordan Went (right) attending Janet Rafner’s ‘Call Me Quantum’ Exhibition featured during Copenhagen’s Culture Night at the Niels Bohr Institute. Traversing through the exhibit, one experiences a range of phenomena such as the atomic orbitals, tunnel effect, wave particle duality and superconductivity from orthogonal perspectives. Layers of design, graphics, and illustrations unveil the scientific process, revealing the compelling and elegant physics that inspired the work. This exhibit displays contents created by the Physics Reimagined group at the University Paris Sud and The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. Design in collaboration with the students from the design school ENSCI-Les Ateliers and Ecole Estienne. (Photo Credit: Professor Robert Feidenhans’l)

While on my Fulbright grant in Interdisciplinary Studies in Denmark, I have been so fortunate to interact with passionate, dedicated like-minded people and kindred spirits across many disciplines. From creative designers and game developers to physicists, computer programmers, cognitive scientists and public outreach experts, these individuals form a unique community dedicated to enhancing science and mathematics comprehension and research outcomes. As a rule, they are intensely curious, willing to take risks and experiment, and passionate about collaborating, even when the project is only tangentially related to their core research. The result is a continuous flow of inspirational energy and a sense that anything might be possible if the right group of people come together.

In this environment where progress often comes from discovering and following unconventional paths, having great mentors has also been crucial to my Fulbright work. The process has allowed me to excel while contributing to diverse scientific and outreach projects, tapping into my own motivations and talents, and building new collaboration skills. The projects have helped me better understand how to bring the concepts of complex physics into the vernacular as well as make them accessible to a wider range of researchers. Professors Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard and Jacob Sherson, my sponsors and mentors at Aarhus University have made these projects possible – I couldn’t ask for a more supportive faculty. In coming years, I look forward to both being a mentor and having new mentors so I can continue to explore how technical tools and artistic creativity can be used to express complex concepts in science, and to share her findings internationally.