Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright
Happy Thanksgiving from the Fulbright Program! Listen to How International Education Has Changed the Lives of These Participants.
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By Allie Surina, 2012-2013, China
I researched math achievement in Xi’an, China as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and I was in for a surprise. I discovered a student learning style that called into question the negative stereotypes Americans often have about ‘memorization’ in Asian countries. The use of test scores as a measure of human potential is a controversial topic in our national news. I was definitely curious how Chinese students ace their tests so easily. Maybe, I thought, classrooms in China really are like student factories, pumping out perfect calculators. I could not have been more wrong.
Since my grant ended in 2013, I have excitedly told everyone within earshot that math education in China is much more than the ‘test culture’ we often hear it is. In China, I found a culture of participation inside classrooms and I watched young children work through failure with courage and persistence. By all my tests of good learning, Chinese classrooms were performing well.
By Bryan Furman, 2013-2014, Tajikistan
I wrote my Fulbright application “knowing” exactly what I would accomplish.
My advisers and I spent months drafting my Statement of Grant Purpose for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Tajikistan. I developed a project to apply my advanced Russian and Persian language proficiencies and four years of Central Asia area studies in tracking trends in Tajik foreign policy. Additionally, I secured a placement at the prestigious Tajik Academy of Sciences and made contact with leading Tajik scholars.
These well-laid plans fell apart about two months after starting my grant. In my proposal, I outlined how I would interview government representatives and review official documents to gain unprecedented insight into Tajik foreign affairs. Wishful thinking. Whatever access I expected never came—a problem I attributed to my lack of on-the-ground experience. With my project going nowhere, I felt I had in some way “failed” Fulbright.
Listen to Dr. Mireya Mayor's (2001-2002, Madagascar) inspiring story of how her Fulbright research on Lemurs has impacted her career and the field of primatology.
By Armaan Siddiqi, 2011-2012, Morocco
After navigating a series of sinuous allies in the sprawling labyrinth that is the old city of Fez, I finally arrive at my destination: the ornate shrine and mosque of Moulay Idriss II—the patron saint of Fez and son of the first ruler of Morocco. I breathe a deep sigh of relief: finally, I’ve found it! I tiptoe in, allowing the sights and sounds of the shrine to wash over me. I find a quiet corner and begin journal entry #1: “This is but the first of many sacred sites I aspire to visit while researching Islam in Morocco this year…”
Rereading the above excerpt, written four years ago as a wide-eyed Fulbright U.S. Student researcher in Morocco, fills me with immense nostalgia and gratitude; my Fulbright experience was, without any exaggeration, one of the most formative experiences of my life, personally and professionally. In delving deep into Islamic history and theology for my research, I not only deepened an understanding of my project (which examined the relationship between Muslim piety and Moroccan politics) but I also realized the tremendous diversity of Islam, and my fellow Muslims.
Living in Morocco as an American Muslim of Pakistani origin made for particularly interesting encounters. Casual conversations with Moroccans, other students and travelers from around the world routinely transformed into profound and passionate discussions on race, faith and politics in the U.S. and Middle East. Little did I realize then that these impromptu conversations would also contribute greatly to my research. Indeed, some of the greatest lessons during one’s Fulbright year arise from the most coincidental circumstances: a chance encounter with a Moroccan-American expatriate at an ATM machine in Fez, for example, led to an afternoon of hearing spooky djinn stories from his childhood with another Fulbright friend researching Moroccan folklore. Through my host institution—the Sidi Mohamad ben Abdallah University of Fez, I was connected with very helpful faculty and students who further enriched my research and invited me to collaborate with their exciting projects.