Category Archives: Foreign Fulbright

Fulbright-MTP: Myth-busting the American South

Fulbright-MTP Participant Nhlalala Mavundza, South Africa, on Southern U.S. exploration

Fulbright-MTP Participant, Nhlalala Mavundza, from South Africa explores the San Antonio, Texas Riverwalk. May 25, 2015

Fulbright-MTP Participant, Nhlalala Mavundza, from South Africa explores the San Antonio, Texas Riverwalk. May 25, 2015.

Throughout my time as a Fulbright Student, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to interact with other Fulbright students from around the world. Each time it is eye opening and a learning experience to learn about places I’ve never seen and people I’ve never met. Joining the Millennial Train Project (MTP) I knew the experience would be similar and I would have the opportunity to learn about new places and different American cultures through the stories of the Millennials I would travel with by train.

When the trip began in Los Angeles, I experienced a culture shock unlike the first one I experienced when I arrived in the United States in August 2013. I’ve been living in Ohio for two years and it’s now my home. I now compare everywhere I travel in the U.S. to Ohio and my home country, South Africa.

Heading South

Fulbright-MTP Participant, Mohammad Behroozian, Afghanistan, checks in from Texas

Fulbright-MTP Participant, Mohammad Behroozian, in the dome car of the Millennial Trains Project Train.

Fulbright-MTP Participant, Mohammad Behroozian, in the dome car of the Millennial Trains Project Train.

Texas is usually warm but today’s rain has lowered the heat. It also gives a pleasant scent to the air, the relaxing scent that enriches Paghman’s air after it rains in Kabul. Writing from the second floor of the Millennial Trains Project is difficult because neither the vastness of these green farms nor the relaxed streets of Austin and its people walking their dogs are easy to overlook.

My name is Mohammad. Thanks to Fulbright, I started my master’s studies in television writing and producing at Boston University. Fulbright has now granted me the opportunity to travel through the southern United States by train.

On this expedition, I join 24 other young professionals engaged in economic, social and political spheres of their countries to visit Los Angeles, Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. to research a topic of our interest.

Leaving My Comfort Zone

Fulbright-MTP Participant Magdalena Leszko, Poland, checks in from the rails

Photo of a sunset on-board the Millennial Trains Project by Fulbright-MTP Participant Magdalena Leszko, a Fulbright Foreign Student from Poland.

Photo of a sunset on-board the Millennial Trains Project by Fulbright-MTP Participant Magdalena Leszko, a Fulbright Foreign Student from Poland.

Ever since I came to this beautiful country, my dream was to travel across the United States. My professional goal was to learn as much as possible about dementia and ways of providing support to individuals who suffer from this disease. Both of my dreams came true thanks to the Fulbright-Millennial Train Project. During my journey across the southern United States, I am conducting interviews with older adults and listening to their needs and suggestions on how to design dementia-friendly communities. I also scheduled a few meetings with researchers who provided me with some feedback about my project and inspired me to persue my academic goals.

Being on the train with people I never met before, working under the pressure of time and facing unfamiliar situations, is challenging. However, this experience taught me an important lesson: Leaders should always be outside of their comport zone; this is where the real learning experiences occur. My first meeting with a researcher from UCLA was canceled a few hours before we were scheduled to meet. Even though I felt uncomfortable changing my plans, I took action and forced myself to leave my comfort zone. Instead, I interviewed older adults that I met at Union Station in Los Angeles.  Even though I was unprepared, the interview went well and I got a lot of feedback. The Millennial Train Project gives us many opportunities to challenge ourselves so we can experience personal growth.

Millennial Trains Project: Preface

Fulbright-MTP Participant Rodrigo Moran, El Salvador, on the first leg of the train journey

Disclaimer: As I write these words, I am in the middle of the State of Texas (between El Paso and San Antonio) after more than 15 hours of enlightening, intense and humbling learning experiences with the MTP class of ‘15. So yes, I am extremely tired, but my desire to share these feelings go beyond my body entering autopilot mode.

The Power of Networking

Fulbright-MTP Participant Pichleap Sok, Cambodia, on journey preparations and LA-impressions

Fulbright-MTP Participant Pichleap Sok from Cambodia with LA mentor, Rebecca McLauchlan, co-founder and CCO of rhubarb studies that builds tech companies in downtown LA.

Fulbright-MTP Participant Pichleap Sok from Cambodia with LA mentor, Rebecca McLauchlan, co-founder and CCO of Rhubarb Studios that builds tech companies in downtown LA.

I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than the Fulbright-Millennial Train Project, which combines my love for traveling and a chance to use this opportunity to do what I am really passionate about. I am very fortunate and honored to be one of the six Fulbrighters on this year’s Millennial Trains Project joining other Millennial world-changers on board. I was so excited and couldn’t wait for this day to come.

To kick off my MTP project prior to the journey, I needed to arrange interviews with local women in technology. Therefore, I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone to make it happen. I started contacting women in tech organizations in Los Angeles, Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. I was so nervous and overwhelmed at first as I didn’t get any reply from them.