Category Archives: Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project

Hopping on and off the Train

By Laura Jimenez Morales, 2015-2017, Mexico


A Detroit worker mural by Diego Rivera

Having had some time to reflect on my Fulbright Millennial Trains Project experience, I have to say that it all seems like a blur. If I had to choose one word to describe it, I would say overwhelming, in the best way. It was overwhelming (and incredibly inspiring) being around so many people with so many ideas and plans. It was overwhelming to travel such a long distance in such a short amount of time. It was overwhelming to process so much new information each and every day. Even off the train, I continue to be overwhelmed by the experience, and hope to eventually be able to process and digest it, bit by bit. I know that many of the lessons I learned, and the advice I received, will continue to come to mind whenever I need it; I know that it will be stored in there for years to come.

One day, while on the back vestibule of the train, I spoke to some of the other participants about how I wished I could  keep some moments alive forever so I could replay them when I needed to recall the way I felt that day, in that moment. Several of them agreed, but someone spoke of the importance of letting go, about how what makes these moment precious is the fact that they don’t last forever, because they are not meant to. I think that is important advice in trying to process this experience. I had so many encounters, so many conversations, learned so many lessons, that I know I will not be able to remember everything that happened. So, I have to trust that the right things will stay in my consciousness, and that they will be there when I feel the need to look back on them. As for the rest, I feel comfortable letting it go.

Hope Towards a Collaborative Future

By Yanoa Carrasco, 2015-2017, Peru

MTP Change Journey participants -- 360 degree group photo.
MTP Change Journey participants -- 360 degree group photo.

MTP Change Journey participants — 360 degree group photo.

A few days ago I ended one of the best experiences that I had during my first year as a Fulbright Student. I participated in the Millennial Trains Project (MTP), a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across the United States while developing a project about how museums engage with their communities.

The experience was so amazing that it’s impossible not to talk about for hours, but if I had to describe the trip in one word it would be “inspirational,” Why did I choose that word? Well I think that it describes the atmosphere that surrounded me during the entire journey.

During the trip I had the chance to meet marvelous young researchers that had similar questions about our society. We realized that despite our different cultural backgrounds we have similar goals in topics related to education, politics, civil rights, and community engagement, among others. Hearing their stories and being able to witness throughout the duration of the journey how they developed their projects to solve those problems, inspired me.

A Need for Responsible Consumerism

By Desiree Barao Garcia, 2015-2016, Germany

Fulbright MTP participant from Germany, Desiree Garcia, right, on Millennial Train Change Journey 2016.
Fulbright MTP participant from Germany, Desiree Garcia, right, on Millennial Train Change Journey 2016.

Fulbright MTP participant from Germany, Desiree Garcia, right, with fellow MTP participant, Leah Elizabeth Edwards, on Millennial Train Change Journey 2016.

Imagine walking around your city. All you see are evacuated stores falling apart, “for rent” signs dominating the view, yet knowing the chances for these spaces to be rented out are slim. Suddenly your memories take you back to a time when the stores were filled with people and all kinds of products. You remember how you, too, used to purchase your things here and you can still recall the smell and warmth of the stores, and the stories you were told by the store owners that were around for generations and knew the neighborhood and its people better than anyone. You find yourself smiling at that thought and then it hits you.

All this is no more. Main Street is dead.

Though I wished this was a fully fictional scene, I am sad to say that we are moving towards this quite quickly.

Exploring America with Americans

By Richa Narula, 2015-2016, Nepal


Richa Narula, 2015-2016, Nepal (center), with her fellow “Unity” Millennial Train Project Fulbright participants Christian Mpody, 2015-2017, Togo(left), and Laura Jimenez Morales, 2015-2017, Mexico (right)

Upon receiving an email about applying to this year’s Millennial Train Project (MTP), I knew that it could potentially be an opportunity of a lifetime. Exploring the United States with Americans while on a train seemed like an amazing idea, and I was so fascinated about the concept. But it took me quite a long time to finalize what project I actually wanted to do during the ten day journey. The idea for my current MTP project came from a recent conference (which I was able to attend, thanks to Fulbright ) I attended and presented on organizational preferences towards particular natural resources versus others. I had observed this kind of bias back in my home country, Nepal, but dismissed after coming to the United States. I thought that the biases would just be understood as another “developing country” issue. But that was not the case. I felt challenged after this conference to research the causes of such preferences and their effects on sustainability. I was looking for an appropriate opportunity for pursuing this research, but even when the application for the MTP was announced, the idea did not strike me immediately. I took some time to think and decided that this was the appropriate opportunity to pursue this research, and the project “Perception Differences and Effects in Sustainability” was thus initiated.

The MTP journey has been the perfect way to enhance my one year in the States. Because of MTP, I have explored many places that I never would have seen.

Throughout this year, I have generally been surrounded by other fellow Fulbright friends, and it was my keen desire to see how Americans perceive different national and international issues that we talk about amongst ourselves. During this trip, I am surrounded by amazing Americans from all walks of life with their own fascinating stories of hard work, success and failure. Listening to them passionately talk about the positive changes that they want to make in the world through their projects — words are not enough to explain that experience. It feels good to know that there are many Millennials who are trying to make the world a better place, in all the ways they can. I already know, within only five days of my trip, that I have made friends for life!

A Millennial Challenge for Advocacy

By Christian Mpody, 2015-2017, Togo


Christian Mpody, 2015-2017, Togo, departing for Los Angeles on the “Unity” leg of this year’s Millennial Train Project

My Fulbright journey in the United States has been a huge revelation to me concerning some topics that I would have never thought about before I started my grant. One of them is the constant struggle between social and market justice, in a context in which the notion of individualism is beloved by constituents across the nation. Related to that struggle is an issue that I’ve become particularly interested in: the crisis of gun violence in America. In learning about the crisis during my Fulbright grant, I’ve heard debates about whether only individuals should be blamed for gun violence, or if the gun industry and the government should be blamed instead. It appears to me that the answer to the issue lies more in value judgments and advocacy than in scientific evidence. In other words, epidemiological evidence has not been the absolute foundation upon which changes have been implemented. When I write that, I remember a mentor who once said, “science pursues truth whereas practice pursues values.”

When I learned about this year’s Millennial Trains Project (MTP), I felt it would be a unique opportunity for me to gain some trans-regional perspectives on gun violence prevention. My MTP project objective is to challenge Millennials to engage in gun violence prevention advocacy–and any other “changes” that go towards the “shared values” held by a community. I do not want to speculate about the extent to which evidence-based practice has become “hypothetical.”