Category Archives: Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project

My Fulbright/Millennial Train Journey

By Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, 2012-2014, India

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are re-posting an article from Fulbright Foreign Student from India Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, who through the Millennial Trains Project, explored the challenges faced by South Asian immigrants in several U.S. cities. We hope that the Fulbright community is inspired by Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan’s – and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s – work in fostering positive change in their host and home communities.

Fulbright U.S. Student alumnus to India, and Millennial Trains Project founder, Patrick Dowd, (2010-2011, left), and Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, 2012-2014, India (right), near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

I came to the United States from India over a year ago on a Fulbright Foreign Student Program grant to pursue a master’s in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the country’s oldest public university. I was given this unique opportunity not just to study public health, but to also experience all the diversity American culture and its people have to offer.

So far, my academic experience at UNC has opened my eyes to limitless possibilities. From classroom discussions, seminars, and volunteer work, to my summer practicum at IntraHealth International, each experience has further solidified my understanding and commitment to public health. Within the field, I am specializing in maternal and child health. My research interests are in program monitoring and evaluation, strengthening existing health systems, improving water quality and sanitation, and health programs for adolescent girls. Upon my return home, I plan to work for a non-governmental organization where I can design and implement programs while enhancing government health systems.

Aside from my studies, I have participated in many multicultural potlucks with other students, celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving with American and international friends, and engaged in community health issues through a local health clinic. I feel blessed to have experienced a slice of Southern hospitality in North Carolina. My Fulbright grant has also allowed me to dispel myths surrounding Indian-Americans and South Asian immigrants in the United States.

Top 10 Fulbright Student Posts of 2016


Top 10 Fulbright Student Program Blog Posts of 2016 by Fulbright on Exposure

Have a Fulbright story you’d like to tell? We’d love to hear your story – and from you. Contact us here.

Hopping on and off the Train

By Laura Jimenez Morales, 2015-2017, Mexico

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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.

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, 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.