Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

A Year of Knee Research and Social Outreach in the Rainbow Nation

By Mathieu S. Davis, 2013-2014, South Africa

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Mathieu S. Davis, 2013-2014, South Africa (center), with his Grade R class at Ikaya Primary School in the township of Kayamandi, just outside of Stellenbosch. Every Friday, he would meet with these children to teach them English and play games in collaboration with their classroom teacher. In return, they taught Mathieu Xhosa. Whether it was ‘1-2-3 Red Light’, ‘Duck-Duck-Goose’ or a chaotic game of football (soccer), a great time learning and playing together was had by all.

My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties of current materials used in these devices. For this project, I had to build a device that functioned as a pin-on-plate wear tester, which would generate particles over the course of time that could be measured using simple distillation techniques to determine the degree of wear particles produced. My research aimed to determine the most effective combination of materials to limit debris and particle accumulation during extensive wear testing. I also performed additional research in gait analysis as a means of biometric identification. For this project, I had to come up with a novel statistical and repeatable method that could determine through statistical principles, the likelihood that two gait profiles are similar or different. This expertise was utilized by the South African Police Department as a potential identification tool of a crime suspect.

Taekwondo and More in Jordan

By Hannah Rosenberg Jones, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan

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Hannah Rosenberg Jones, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan (left, front row, in red shirt), with her dojang partners at the Al Faris Taekwando Center in Amman, Jordan

When I first moved to Amman, Jordan as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, I sought experiences that would take me away from the comfort of my expat community. Having participated in athletics my entire life, I chose to pick up taekwondo at a dojang near the University of Jordan, where I taught. Located in the basement of a popular hookah café, I remember feeling nervous that I was about to descend into a room full of only men. To my pleasant surprise, the hole-in-the-wall taekwondo club that I had chosen happened to also host a number of top female athletes.

During my day-to-day activities in Amman, I was confronted by numerous obstacles. Communicating in Arabic was difficult, navigating public transportation was tricky, and teaching a classroom of 60 students was a new challenge. In the evenings, I was a 30-year-old taekwondo beginner who spoke awkward textbook Arabic going up against black-belt, adolescent Olympic hopefuls who spoke Arabic a mile a minute.

Learning Side-by-Side

By Joseph Todd La Torre, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Nepal

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Joseph La Torre

Joseph Todd La Torre, 2015-2016 Fulbright ETA to Nepal, teaching with his co-teacher, Ms. Maiya

My interest in culture and religious studies began during my early years of high school when I started exploring Eastern philosophies. Determined to find answers to my many questions, I went on to study psychology and religious studies in college. Once there, one of my favorite experiences took place in the spring of 2014, when I helped organize my campus’s first Holi celebration. Exposing students to traditional South Asian culture while having an overall great time, made it a huge success. Later that year, Professor Meetu Khosla from University of Delhi, a cultural psychologist on a Fulbright-Nehru grant in the United States, gave a lecture at my school. Fascinated by her research, it was at that moment that I decided to go to South Asia. Knowing Nepal as Siddhartha Gautama’s birthplace inspired me to begin here.

When I applied to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Nepal, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t entirely sure about what my assignments would entail, but I was eager to live in Nepal. The eagerness was twofold: I was ready to feel my way around a proper classroom and was also excited to immerse myself in the country’s religious communities.

By early March, I had arrived. In hindsight, the first month in Nepal was a particularly special time for me. During this time, I was adjusting to my routine, and everything felt new. It also coincided with some of the most important religious holidays of the year in the region: Shivaratri (the Day of Lord Shiva), Holi (The Spring Festival of Color), and Nepali New Year.

Don’t Play the Game. The Odds Are Not in Your Favor!

By Mary Ogunrinde, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to the Dominican Republic

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Mary Ogunrinde

Mary Ogunrinde, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to the Dominican Republic, in the classroom

Don’t play the game. The odds are not in your favor. I say this because I began and completed my application for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship during the last three weeks of the 2013 application cycle. I applied to teach in the Dominican Republic. I wasn’t trying to start the process so late. I started graduate school in August of that year and learned about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as I was looking for scholarships on the Internet. I spent the first month of graduate school looking for a Fulbright Program Adviser on my campus and it turned out there wasn’t one. By this time, it was already September and the application was due by the second week of October.

As I worked on my Statement of Grant Purpose and Personal Statement, I scoured the Internet for information about previous Fulbrighters, their experiences, their essays, their credentials, et cetera. That’s when I began to play the game: The comparison game. I began to lose some of confidence in my ability to prove to Fulbright application reviewers that I was worthy of a grant. These Fulbrighters had pages of credentials. They seemed to be on their way to winning a Nobel Prize. Here I was a first semester graduate student with a resume that contained mostly volunteer work from my undergrad and no leadership position in any organization. I didn’t graduate Summa Cum Laude. I was not saving the lives of orphans in Africa or building wells in India. I was sitting in St. Petersburg, Florida, trying not to get lost, make wrong turns on to the numerous one-way streets and get myself killed in an accident.

The Story About Hiroshima and Nagasaki You Have to Hear

By Ari M. Beser, 2015-2016, Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow to Japan

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Takeshi Miyata wanders through Auschwitz during his 85 journey around the world on Peace Boat’s 80th Voyage.

“Everything is connected,” exclaimed Takeshi Miyata as he walked along the railway at the Auschwitz death camps, almost 70 years after Jews were carted off to slaughter in the same location. “Jewish scientists escaped the Nazis, helped America build an atomic bomb, and it was dropped on me.”

Anyone who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki within two weeks of the release of the only two atom bombs detonated over people were designated as Hibakusha: “Exposed to the atomic bomb/radiation.” Miyata, and eight other members of the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project, had traveled halfway around the world from Japan. They shared their cautionary tales of nuclear power in each port of call along the way. Some spoke publicly for the first time in their lives. I was their web reporter.

Peace Boat, part cruise ship, part political lobby, was on its 80th voyage in 30 years. The Hibakusha Project was participating in a Peace Boat voyage for the sixth time. Our journey in 2013 started in Da Nang, Vietnam, where we spent the day with victims of Agent Orange who have experienced generational effects of the chemicals wartime use.  We confronted Japan’s own violent past in Singapore at the National History Museum. We shared testimony with a Hungarian-Polish Auschwitz survivor at the center for Dialogue in Poland, and befriended El Salvadorian revolutionaries in Central America.