Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

Experiencing Life, Business and Education in Mexico

By Joshua Rodriguez, 2013-2014, Binational Fulbright Internship grantee to Mexico

Joshua Rodriguez

(Left to right) 2013 Binational Business Internship grantees Joshua Rodriguez, Alex Honjiyo, Christopher Bergan, and Jeff Macdonald traveling through the Yucatan

When I was first asked to write a piece for the Fulbright Student Program Blog, I was at a loss for words. How could I possibly describe such a life-changing experience? If a picture is a worth a thousand words, then how many words is a year living abroad? Simply put, Mexico has taken my breath away.

As I went to the theater this past weekend, I saw an advertisement that encouraged tourism in Chiapas. The slogan was great, “Chiapasiónate. I started to think to myself if I had to create an advertisement for tourism in Mexico, what would it be? Would it start with the incredible beaches of Zihuatanejo and Cancún? Or, should I start with the Mayan ruins in the Yucatán and Chiapas? I could focus on the gorgeous neoclassical churches in San Miguel de Allende, Querétaro and Guanajuato. But how could I forget the cosmopolitan city that is Mexico City?

Honestly, this blog post cannot suffice to explain my love affair with Mexico. Mexico has 32 UNESCO world heritage sites. It is the birthplace of the New World. The food is out of this world. Mexico is the political, economic and social gateway into Latin America.

Everybody Loves Turtles

By Morrison Mast, 2013-2014, Panama

Morrison Mast - 1

Morrison Mast, 2013-2014, Panama, examines a juvenile hawksbill turtle that washed up nearly dead on the shore; a local fisherman has since nursed it back to good health and re-released it into the wild

“Everybody loves turtles,” my father would say. After he went from being an early-career marine biologist to managing an international wildlife conservation organization (Conservation International), this phrase was an indispensable fixture of his speeches at foundations, scientific symposia, and universities.

This was an almost “universal fact,” he would claim, and it was the basis of the Sea Turtle Flagship Program (now SWOT, a program of the Oceanic Society), an extremely successful initiative founded on the concept that when you invest in the conservation of turtles, a charismatic, universally recognized symbol of peace, you’re also necessarily investing in the conservation of marine wildlife and biodiversity as a whole. By addressing climate change, fisheries regulation, beachfront development, and other threats to sea turtles, you’re addressing the needs of marine ecosystems around the world. After having traveled to dozens of sea turtle conservation projects around the globe, I would never have expected the one place where I’ve found my father’s words to be untrue to be the place where people are most effectively accomplishing “conservation.”

The reason my father’s words don’t apply here in Armila, Panama, is because the Guna Indians’ conception of turtles isn’t necessarily based on positive feelings. During my time as a Fulbrighter working in the indigenous Guna Yala region of Panama, near the border with Colombia, I’ve heard leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) described in local folklore as being “ugly,” “scary,” “intelligent,” and “vengeful.” For this reason, the residents of Armila, home to one of the world’s densest nesting aggregations of this endangered species, have for a hundred years given these turtles the right of way when it comes to nesting; they don’t remove any eggs or kill any adult turtles, both of which are a source of protein that is heavily exploited around the world.

Being Open to the Unexpected: My Fulbright Year in Morocco

By Jacqueline Bishop, 2008-2009, Morocco

Jacqueline Bishop

Jacqueline Bishop, 2008-2009, Morocco, at an exhibition of her patchwork quilts made from Moroccan djellabas and scarves in Morocco

Sometimes you go in search of one thing, and yes, you find that one thing, but you find many other things as well. That is what my Fulbright year in Morocco was like.

I went to Morocco to study the burgeoning lifestyle magazine industry that had sprung up in the country over recent years. Within a very short period of time there were several “du Maroc” (of Morocco) magazines being published in the country – Cuisine du Maroc, Architecture du Maroc, Jardins du Maroc – and I was intrigued by the phenomenon. I wondered: Why are all these magazines now being published in Morocco? In time I came to realize that this all had to do with a burgeoning middle class.

But Morocco held many surprises for me. I discovered, for example, a rich embroidery tradition rooted in the history of Morocco. In time, because I am a visual artist, I started to utilize this embroidery in the creation of a series of patchwork quilts. In these quilts, there is a central embroidery around which I used various textiles often associated with women – scarves and djellabas in particular – both to emphasize the main embroidery and to extend the quilts into patchworks. In effect I was marrying both African American and Moroccan art forms.

Finding a Home

By Aubrey Doyle, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan

Aubrey Doye 1

Aubrey Doyle, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan, with 6th Grade Fuxing Elementary School Students

“Where is home?”

For most people, this is a very straightforward question. But for me, it’s a little more complicated. Although I was born in the United States, I spent most of my life living in Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. I have grappled with the concept of “home” for as many years as I can remember. I knew my Fulbright year would be special, but when I reflect on my experience, I realize that I walked away with lifelong friends who are a second family to me, and with memories that truly symbolize the feeling of “home” I have for Taiwan.

Before I went to Taiwan, I promised myself to live every day to the fullest. I ran two marathons, traveled throughout the country, attended religious and cultural ceremonies, and even earned my Taekwondo black belt.

Fulbright Profile: U.S. Student Program Alumna Maaza Mengiste Shares Her Work with Girls Rising, Fulbright Experiences, and Advice for Applicants

By Fulbright Staff

Maaza Mengiste, 2010-2011, Italy

Maaza Mengiste, 2010-2011, Italy

Can you tell us about your work on Girl Rising, and how that project came about?

I am one of the nine writers involved with the Girl Rising project. I heard about the film when I was (ironically) in Italy on my Fulbright Fellowship. I received an email from director Richard Robbins, telling me a bit about the documentary’s mission to focus on girls education worldwide and highlight girls who are trying to overcome obstacles and go to school. He asked me if I’d be interested in taking part and writing a section for Ethiopia and I jumped at the chance. I was born in Ethiopia and my mother did not get the chance to go to college, and my grandmother and great-grandmother were married at extremely young ages. I felt I had a personal investment in the issue of girls education in Ethiopia and the particular focus of that segment: forced early marriage and how it harms girls in every way you can imagine.

What are a few of the most memorable moments from your Fulbright experience?

There are so many. Meeting other Fulbrighters, getting lost everywhere and discovering unexpected parts of Rome. Traveling through Italy and doing research in archives. Having people come up to me in surprising moments and share personal stories that were exactly what I was searching for in archives. Meeting Italians who are now lifetime friends; the Fulbright changed my life professionally and personally. Its impact is immeasurable and will be long-lasting.