Communities and Rivers in the State Named After the “Great River”

In a local farmers market, colorful t-shirts hang from hooks proudly proclaiming, in the words of William Faulkner, “To understand the world, you have to understand a place like Mississippi.” As a More »

Fulbright Wins a Silver Telly Award!

The Fulbright Program has been awarded a Silver Telly Award for our short film “My Fulbright Life: Brian Rutenberg”! We’re excited that the story of cultural exchange is being heard far and More »

Bridging the Atlantic through Traditional East African Dance and Music

My journey to New York University (NYU) to pursue graduate training in dance education started when I was still young. My artistic creativity, performance dexterity and exposure to dance artistry were nurtured More »

Expecting the Unexpected–Cosmic Ray Physics in Argentina

As a physicist, I study cosmic rays—high-energy particles that zip around the universe. If scientists are lucky, these cosmic rays land on detectors set up on the ground. For my Fulbright grant, More »

Home on the Steppe: My Fulbright in Mongolia

I know there was a time when Mongolia didn’t feel like another home, before I went there on my Fulbright grant, before 2006. But I can’t remember it. Every time I speak More »

 

Experiencing Life, Business and Education in Mexico

By Joshua Rodriguez, 2013-2014, Binational Fulbright Internship grantee to Mexico

Joshua Rodriguez

(Left to right) 2013 Binational Business Internship grantees Joshua Rodriguez, Alex Honjiyo, Christopher Bergan, and Jeff Macdonald traveling through the Yucatan

When I was first asked to write a piece for the Fulbright Student Program Blog, I was at a loss for words. How could I possibly describe such a life-changing experience? If a picture is a worth a thousand words, then how many words is a year living abroad? Simply put, Mexico has taken my breath away.

As I went to the theater this past weekend, I saw an advertisement that encouraged tourism in Chiapas. The slogan was great, “Chiapasiónate. I started to think to myself if I had to create an advertisement for tourism in Mexico, what would it be? Would it start with the incredible beaches of Zihuatanejo and Cancún? Or, should I start with the Mayan ruins in the Yucatán and Chiapas? I could focus on the gorgeous neoclassical churches in San Miguel de Allende, Querétaro and Guanajuato. But how could I forget the cosmopolitan city that is Mexico City?

Honestly, this blog post cannot suffice to explain my love affair with Mexico. Mexico has 32 UNESCO world heritage sites. It is the birthplace of the New World. The food is out of this world. Mexico is the political, economic and social gateway into Latin America.

Everybody Loves Turtles

By Morrison Mast, 2013-2014, Panama

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Morrison Mast, 2013-2014, Panama, examines a juvenile hawksbill turtle that washed up nearly dead on the shore; a local fisherman has since nursed it back to good health and re-released it into the wild

“Everybody loves turtles,” my father would say. After he went from being an early-career marine biologist to managing an international wildlife conservation organization (Conservation International), this phrase was an indispensable fixture of his speeches at foundations, scientific symposia, and universities.

This was an almost “universal fact,” he would claim, and it was the basis of the Sea Turtle Flagship Program (now SWOT, a program of the Oceanic Society), an extremely successful initiative founded on the concept that when you invest in the conservation of turtles, a charismatic, universally recognized symbol of peace, you’re also necessarily investing in the conservation of marine wildlife and biodiversity as a whole. By addressing climate change, fisheries regulation, beachfront development, and other threats to sea turtles, you’re addressing the needs of marine ecosystems around the world. After having traveled to dozens of sea turtle conservation projects around the globe, I would never have expected the one place where I’ve found my father’s words to be untrue to be the place where people are most effectively accomplishing “conservation.”

The reason my father’s words don’t apply here in Armila, Panama, is because the Guna Indians’ conception of turtles isn’t necessarily based on positive feelings. During my time as a Fulbrighter working in the indigenous Guna Yala region of Panama, near the border with Colombia, I’ve heard leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) described in local folklore as being “ugly,” “scary,” “intelligent,” and “vengeful.” For this reason, the residents of Armila, home to one of the world’s densest nesting aggregations of this endangered species, have for a hundred years given these turtles the right of way when it comes to nesting; they don’t remove any eggs or kill any adult turtles, both of which are a source of protein that is heavily exploited around the world.

Being Open to the Unexpected: My Fulbright Year in Morocco

By Jacqueline Bishop, 2008-2009, Morocco

Jacqueline Bishop

Jacqueline Bishop, 2008-2009, Morocco, at an exhibition of her patchwork quilts made from Moroccan djellabas and scarves in Morocco

Sometimes you go in search of one thing, and yes, you find that one thing, but you find many other things as well. That is what my Fulbright year in Morocco was like.

I went to Morocco to study the burgeoning lifestyle magazine industry that had sprung up in the country over recent years. Within a very short period of time there were several “du Maroc” (of Morocco) magazines being published in the country – Cuisine du Maroc, Architecture du Maroc, Jardins du Maroc – and I was intrigued by the phenomenon. I wondered: Why are all these magazines now being published in Morocco? In time I came to realize that this all had to do with a burgeoning middle class.

But Morocco held many surprises for me. I discovered, for example, a rich embroidery tradition rooted in the history of Morocco. In time, because I am a visual artist, I started to utilize this embroidery in the creation of a series of patchwork quilts. In these quilts, there is a central embroidery around which I used various textiles often associated with women – scarves and djellabas in particular – both to emphasize the main embroidery and to extend the quilts into patchworks. In effect I was marrying both African American and Moroccan art forms.

From Argentina to Minnesota: My Fulbright Experience

By Laureana Moreno, 2013-2014, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Argentina

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Laureana Moreno, 2013-2014, Fulbright FLTA from Argentina (right), providing information about Argentinian culture to an American student at the University of St. Thomas’ International Fair

When I first learned that I would spend an academic year in St. Paul, Minnesota as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA), I did not know what to expect. The first thing everybody would tell me after I shared that I was going to Minnesota was, ‘It’s going to be so cold!’ and ‘Be ready for a lot of snow.’ I had no idea what the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis) had in store for me. I am a Spanish-language Fulbright FLTA, and I assist students in their linguistic and cultural learning process, as well as professors, usually substituting for them or providing sessions on Spanish culture. I have also been engaged with the campus Spanish Club, helped to organize tango lessons and Spanish conversation groups.

My first few days in the ‘Land of the 10,000 Lakes’ were filled with new people and roommates, different cultures, and sunny, warm weather. As time went by, my new group of friends from France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, and the United States grew closer. This unity was enhanced by each of us sharing our unique cultural customs. We organized a dinner and cooked empanadas, a very typical dish in Argentina (whose closest equivalent is an English Cornish pastry or a slightly larger Indian samosa). The filling in the empanadas varied from mince with vegetables to just cheese and sautéed onions. In Argentina, it is customary to make and drink mate while cooking, and that is exactly what we did. Mate is a traditional drink which tastes very similar to tea, but which is drunk in a different manner. Mate is served in a wooden cup which is filled with yerba (similar to black tea typically found in tea bags). Then, hot water (which must not be boiling hot) is poured into the mate so that the yerba gets wet, and through a metal straw, called a bombilla, one drinks the hot water flavored with the yerba.

Finding a Home

By Aubrey Doyle, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan

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Aubrey Doyle, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan, with 6th Grade Fuxing Elementary School Students

“Where is home?”

For most people, this is a very straightforward question. But for me, it’s a little more complicated. Although I was born in the United States, I spent most of my life living in Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. I have grappled with the concept of “home” for as many years as I can remember. I knew my Fulbright year would be special, but when I reflect on my experience, I realize that I walked away with lifelong friends who are a second family to me, and with memories that truly symbolize the feeling of “home” I have for Taiwan.

Before I went to Taiwan, I promised myself to live every day to the fullest. I ran two marathons, traveled throughout the country, attended religious and cultural ceremonies, and even earned my Taekwondo black belt.