Highlights from the 2015 Austin Fulbright Enrichment Seminar

In a U.S. election year, anything can happen. Understanding the processes behind U.S. campaigns, media relations, and voting are not only highly relevant, they’re vital for the next generation of informed global More »

Fulbright: An Inspirational and Inclusive Community

Are you a U.S. citizen with a disability interested in applying for a Fulbright grant? Attend the webinar for applicants with disabilities on Friday, June 12, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET. More »

Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project Participants

The U.S. Department of State selected the following six Fulbright Foreign Students to participate in the third Millennial Trains Project (MTP) voyage across the United States — leaving from Los Angeles, California on May 21 and ending More »

It Takes a Fulbright Village: My Journey Toward Becoming an Effective Fulbright Program Adviser

I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, but helping students devise the “right strategy” for applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award has been a daunting task. More »

Building a Boy a Bionic Arm: The Spirit of Shared, Open Sourced Technology

I am convinced we live in an ever shrinking world. Following my bachelor’s degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF), my research professor, Dr. Seetha Raghavan, More »

Livin’ La Vida Caleña

This was it: Thursday night at Tin Tin Deo. I was embracing la vida caleña, or Cali lifestyle, venturing into the “salsa capital of the world” by visiting the legendary salsa bar More »

 

Art and Understanding

By Alex Anderson, 2014-2015, China

Alex Anderson-1

Alex Anderson, 2014-2015, China, working on one of his ceramic sculptures in the studio

During my Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant, I spent 10-months at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where I studied ink painting and was an artist-in-residence in the ceramics department. Considering art as a reflection of the interior world of its maker, it allowed for a clear and genuine lens into the specific interests, psychologies, and motivations of the people in my studio during this period. Prior to my time in China, I had not considered art as a tool for cultural exchange, but the questions that sourced from discussions of each person’s work often moved from the work itself to considerations of its place in contemporary art in China, America, and beyond.

People seemed to view my work and me as equally viable specimens for inspection of what it means to be an American and what American art looks like. There was an interest in the way work was rendered, comments surrounding its content, and discussions of its aesthetic that ultimately led to dialogues about what it means to be an American and the fact that there is no universal definition, as America is an immigrant, hybrid nation. In this respect, art became my primary means of creating mutual understanding and serving as a cultural ambassador. The first question people would ask when they walked through the studio was, “Who made this?” followed by “Where is he from?” These questions opened up spaces for further dialogue around the intersection of Chinese and American art, and sometimes led to discussions of the intersection of China and America.

Playtime in Port Elizabeth

By Thalia Patrinos, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to South Africa

Thalia Patrinos-1

Thalia Patrinos, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to South Africa, with her incredibly entertaining Circle of Life team leaders, including Duncan, Mishka, Pieter, and Danny

By day, I am a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Paterson High School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

By night, I am a hula hoop teacher, circus performer, and fire dancer.

My hobbies may seem eccentric, but they offer opportunities for endless exploration, healthy exercise, and incredible cultural connections with students and audience members.

I began the journey into circus arts during my first year of college six years ago, and I have never looked back. My side career in the teaching and performance of fire and flow arts have taken me to festivals in Hungary, theaters in New York City, and classrooms here in South Africa.

We all need a little bit of playtime in our lives, whether we are children or adults. We need to be encouraged to have fun, let loose, and get lost in something, and all it takes is something as simple as a hula hoop to get us there sometimes.

Conversations on Tolerance and Equality: Living and Learning in Tajikistan

Chane Corp, 2014-2015, Fulbright ETA to Tajikistan

Chane Corp, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Tajikistan, celebrating World Earth Day by volunteering in Khorog City Park with students from various students from different American Corners’ clubs.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I knew there would be stigma surrounding this group in Tajikistan. While on my 10-month grant, I wanted nothing more than to be a personal advocate for tolerance; however, while studying and teaching in Kyrgyzstan, I developed an appreciation for keeping this personal information private. At various times, I have been told that this sort of discretion is not being true to who I am – but I disagree. Immersing yourself in another culture necessitates a sincere respect for local norms and opinions; being a successful cultural ambassador means finding the common ground that will allow you to be a productive, valued, member of your host community. Being a Fulbright grantee means you represent more than your own opinion; it means you are larger than your own passions.

When discussing sensitive issues abroad, my focus was always on the singular issue of tolerance. I sought to have difficult conversations with my students – ones that challenged not only their views, but also my own. When the racially charged unrest in Ferguson, Missouri hit its peak in November, 2014, the Russian news media (which is by far better funded and more chic than local Tajik outlets) devoted significant resources to covering the tension. Every night, nightly news would show dramatic footage of rioting and more than a few of my students genuinely believed that America, as a country, was on the verge of collapse. As dramatized as the Russian version of events were, this depiction offered a valuable opportunity for a frank and honest discussion about social issues in America and, indeed, around the world.

Highlights from the 2016 Philadelphia Fulbright Enrichment Seminar

 

In the city of brotherly love, 125 Fulbright Foreign Students from over 60 countries gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 5 – 8, 2016 to explore U.S. political values and traditions, the electoral process, and the current presidential campaign.

Tom Healy, a member on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, provided inspirational remarks at the opening dinner held at the Independence Visitor’s Center. Mr. Healy was appointed by President Barack Obama in July 2011 to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the worldwide Fulbright Program.

Being There: A Conversation on Collaboration in Barbados

By Katherine Cloutier, 2012-2013, and Matt Saleh, 2015-2016, Barbados

Katherine Cloutier is a 2012-2013 Fulbright-mtvU alumna, currently finishing her PhD in ecological-community psychology. Her Fulbright-mtvU grant was a participatory research project that was done in collaboration with a sexual health education program and secondary school students.

Matt Saleh is a 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student in Barbados whose research focuses on collaboration and service coordination among community service providers, government agencies, and secondary schools in school-to-work transition for youth with disabilities.

After learning of the overlap between our two Fulbright projects and experiences in Barbados, we decided to sit down and try to put some of the commonalities into words for the benefit of future Fulbright Students. On the shores of Accra Beach over refreshments at the Tiki Bar, we quickly got to work. 

Katherine Cloutier

Katherine with Lisa Thompson from PEPFAR (left); Katherine Cloutier, 2012-2013, Barbados, with previous U.S. Ambassador Larry Palmer; and dance4life partners Maisha Hutton, Leila Raphael, and Shakira Emtage-Cave (middle to right) at the 2012 World AIDS Day Event where the participatory action research project was presented by the secondary school students.

Katherine Cloutier: I came to Barbados through a series of planned accidents, I suppose. I remember walking into the office of the Fulbright Program Adviser at Michigan State University, my alma mater, and telling him, “I’m going to get that scholarship; it’s just a matter of when.” The next thing I knew, I was walking off a plane in Barbados on a humid September day in 2012, about to begin my year as a Fulbright-mtvU grantee. Two individuals from my host community partner, dance4life (a sexual health education and youth empowerment program), were waiting for me at the airport. I had never been to the Caribbean before, let alone this particular rock, but I felt so welcomed by these two. Here I am, years later, and I am back in Barbados, my second home.