Category Archives: Foreign Fulbright

Action Inspired by America’s Natural and Community Beauty

Fulbright-MTP Participant Ammar Mohammed reflects on the cross-country U.S. journey

Fulbright-MTP participant Ammar Mohammed, a Fulbright student from Yemen, reflects on the overall feel of the MTP cross-country U.S. journey — highlighting Fulbright connections in Minnesota, and inspirational communities in Portland and Milwaukee.

In the words of Ammar Mohammed, a Fulbright student from Yemen:

I found it really hard to write the last blog for my MTP experience as many memories and thoughts are pushing back and forth wanting to be penned. I have been reflecting on my voyage and sometimes I question if it really happened. It has been a once in a lifetime experience to the outer and inner worlds, as Millennial Trains Project (MTP) offered a 10-day journey of professional and interpersonal growth. It is a learning class on rails!

Fulbrigh Student from Yemen, Ammar Mohammed, left, with other Millennial Train Project participants at the Statue of Liberty in New York City, at the conclusion of their journey. August 2014.

Fulbrigh Student from Yemen, Ammar Mohammed, left, with other Millennial Train Project participants at the Statue of Liberty in New York City, at the conclusion of their journey. August 2014.

In Portland, we met with decision-makers, including the first lady of Portland, and entrepreneurs who shared their inspiring stories with us. I interviewed an African American pioneer in entrepreneurship who gave me a great perspective on social integration through entrepreneurship. Dwayne Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of Center for Inclusive Innovation, explained some of the challenges that African American entrepreneurs face and lessons that can be replicated in the ‘marginalized’ African Yemeni context.Prior to hitting the rails to Seattle, I visited On-The-Move Community Integration. I was stunned by the great effort the volunteers and participants are doing to integrate into the society. This organization, which works with developmentally and intellectually disabled, has taken integration one step further. Instead of inviting the community to the organization, they go out to meet with the community and participate in outdoor activities.

In Seattle, another chapter of beauty and learning was unlocked. We began the morning at WeWork with mentors from Amazon Web Services and Citizen University. One of the best take-aways from Mr. Eric Liu of Citizen University is that “Rigid individualism never builds a community.” This really resonates with me, as I believe in collaboration as a crucial part of building strong, effective and diverse communities. Then I went to the Northwest African American Museum. Indeed, the visit exceeded my expectations. This relatively small but eye-opening museum exhibited how African Americans in Seattle merged with the society through sports, arts and music. I saw original sport outfits, musical instruments, and portrayals of the champions of social justice and equality; including, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy.Even though we had quite little time in Seattle compared to the rest of the MTP stops, it was a rewarding city to see and learn from.

Views from Across the Pond: Exploring Legal and Civic Cultures

By Lucy Chambers, 2013-2014, United Kingdom

Lucy Chambers - 1
Lucy Chambers - 1

Lucy Chambers, 2013-2014, United Kingdom (right), painting bookmarks for literacy projects for the Cambridge Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

As a Fulbright Student from the United Kingdom, I pursued a Master of Laws degree at Harvard Law School; in my LL.M. research, I investigated the utility of a functionalist approach to private law, and how this U.S.-based approach to legal research can be useful for better understanding UK private law theory. This involves developing my knowledge of law and economics, both institutional and situational economics and efficiency theory, and applying this and other theories of private law, including a remedies-focused approach, to the UK laws of contract and restitution so that a fuller theoretical picture may be developed. I hope to take this research and knowledge back to the UK and further the study of Law and Economics, along with a functionalist approach to private law, at all levels of legal scholarship and teaching.

“Learning About the World in a Journey Across America”

Fulbright-MTP Participant Siliva Tijo reflects on the cross-country U.S. journey

Fulbright-MTP participant Silvia Tijo, a Fulbright student from Colombia, reflects on the overall feel of the MTP cross-country U.S. journey. In addition to seeing the process of transforming waste into energy with the help of sunlight and algae for the first time in-person; a process she researches currently at Georgia Tech via a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant – Tijo says she learned more about the world and the necessary keys to becoming a global generational leader.

In the words of Silvia Tijo, a Fulbright student from Colombia:

The group of 20 Americans and five Fulbright Foreign Student MTP participants after a mentor session at Citizen University in Seattle. Submitted photo.

The group of 20 Americans and five Fulbright Foreign Student MTP participants after a mentor session at Citizen University in Seattle. Submitted photo.

While the Millennial Trains Project approached its last station in New York, all of us felt nostalgic since the trip was coming to an end. The group that started as strangers in Portland had become a family somewhere along the trip. During the final hours, Jenny Gottstein, who is from California, organized the production of a Lip sync video that involved all the passengers throughout the train even though many of us did not know the song lyrics; furthermore, there was no way to hear it because there was not any internet signal available as the train was in movement. What a great way to end the trip! Everybody worked on a shared goal.

At this point, I realized what the 20 participants from all regions of USA and five Fulbright Scholars from Yemen, Russia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Colombia had in common. Besides being part of the same generation, we all want to use our leadership to create social impact. The travel experience on train was key for us to create such a connection.

The journey itself was a tour of geography of the United States, and the greatness of its landscape. Yet, the best part of the trip was to learn from the diversity of its people through the speakers, mentors, participants, and all the people that we met in each place. The train also surpassed borders, and we learned about people, customs, and points of view of other countries around the world. I became familiar with countries where I’ve never been, and I also learned more about my own country: Colombia.

We had between 2 or 3 hours to work on our individual projects in every city where we stopped. The return to the train after each visit was exciting because the experiences of others were shared with all of us. I was fortunate to see each city through the eyes of 24 other people, and I could see every place from never imagined perspectives. When the journey reached its final destination, many projects on the train began to intertwine just like the travelers on the train began to intertwine as a community. We learned to appreciate that we are different, but where differences are valued and commonalities are found, stronger ties are built.

“Only In Boston”

Fulbright-MTP Participant Anser Shaukat shares his inspiration for his MTP project

As our Fulbright-MTP participants make their way to Portland for tomorrow’s launch of the MTP 2014 journey, they reflect on their Fulbright experience thus far, what they believe are the most pressing issues facing global Millennials today and how their Fulbright-MTP project is a vehicle for enhancing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

In the words of Anser Shaukat, a Fulbright Foreign Student from Pakistan:

It’s been two years since that bright eyed lad stepped out of Logan, on what he would later learn, is considered a particularly bright and beautiful day in New England.

As I sit now preparing for my upcoming journey in the Millennial Trains Project, excited about discovering the varying cultural landscapes of the U.S, I can’t help but think about that boy and my first experience in the landscape of Boston.

Anser Shaukat is a current Fulbright Foreign Student from Pakistan.

Anser Shaukat is a current Fulbright Foreign Student from Pakistan.

My plan was to take the bus-tram hybrid, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Silver Line to South Station and from there transfer to the bus to New Bedford, my final destination. I thought I had done my research, looked up the times and the routes, but I was in no way prepared to handle the unique challenges offered by a new city. I huffed and puffed my three pieces of brand new luggage on the Silver Line, which right up until that moment were my trophies of readiness; Two years of life in the land of the free, packed in two pieces of checked baggage and one hand carry. A hundred and thirty pounds; barely under the weight limit. The inevitability of the situation makes me laugh at that boy and the pride he had in those bags. He had felt ready then, prepared to take on the new world and his new life.

Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project Participants

The U.S. Department of State selected the following five Fulbright Foreign Students to participate in the second Millennial Trains Project (MTP) voyage across the United States — leaving from Portland, Oregon on August 7 and ending in New York, New York on August 17 — as an enrichment component of the Fulbright Foreign Student program. The five Fulbrighters will join 20 other riders on the MTP journey to gain an in-depth understanding of life in the United States and to strengthen their skills in leadership, social entrepreneurship, and communication.

Meet the five Fulbright participants:

Alyas_WiditaAlyas Abibawa Widita is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa. Graduated with Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture from Indonesia’s Gadjah Mada University, as well as attended a one year academic exchange during his senior year at Escuela Tecnica Superior Arquitectura y Geodesia, Universidad de Alcala, Spain. Widita’s research interests focus on the dynamic transformation of built environment and its influence on the way people live, move and behave both in domestic and international settings.

Born and raised in Yogyakarta, a medium-sized city in the center of Java — the most populous island in Indonesia where train is popular choice for intercity passenger transport. Widita has fond memories of railway transport as he used this mode quite regularly during his childhood and looks forward to the MTP journey. Widita’s MTP project, “Millennials and the Future Cities,” is inspired by United Nations research stating that in 2050 70 percent of the world’s population will be city dwellers. Widita believes Millennials cannot be overlooked in the process of urban development as they will inevitably inherit the world’s urban landscape and assume leadership. His project aims to study Millennials’ current engagement in this process and to garner Millennials’ ideas (and concerns) about the future cities. He plans to share his results at the 2015 American Planning Association annual meeting in Seattle.

Katie_NikolaevaKatie Nikolaeva is a Fulbright Student from Russia and studies international economics at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. She is trilingual and fluently speaks Russian, French and English. She also speaks German and is currently studying Chinese.

Nikolaeva is passionate about economics, the only discipline that she believes connects exact science with human behavior. During the MTP journey she will explore small businesses and social innovation across industrial cities in northern American states. Exploring those cities and their small businesses, she will collect and share the best innovative ideas, thus contributing to the development of small business through talking about breakthrough ideas and creative approach to startups. She plans to keep a videoblog of the experience.