Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

Going Batty in Oz: Conservation of the Critically Endangered Southern Bent-wing Bat in South Australia

By Kristen Lear, 2011-2012, Australia

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Kristen Lear, 2011-2012, Australia, with a Southern Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) in Bat Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia

Happy Halloween! In honor of the Fulbright Program celebrating #BatWeek on Twitter, today’s blog post is from Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumna Kristen Lear, who studied the conservation of the Southern Bent-wing Bat in Australia back in 2011. Enjoy!

The wind stirs as I sit under the bright stars and listen to the rustle of bat wings as they flit past me. The bright screens of my laptop and the thermal imaging camera are the only lights shining in the dark. The stream of bats gets heavier until there are over 1,000 flying out of the cave every minute. I spend most nights like this, sitting outside Bat Cave at Naracoorte Caves National Park, South Australia, taking fly-out counts to determine the population size of Southern Bent-wing Bats (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii). The aim of my Fulbright project is to monitor the bats at the maternity cave (Bat Cave) and at their overwintering sites throughout South East South Australia.

The Southern Bent-wing Bat was listed as Critically Endangered under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 based on the fact that the sub-species has undergone a reduction in population by about 67 percent over three generations (from about 100,000-200,000 bats in the 1960s to about 30,000 in 2009) and that it has a highly restricted range, relying on only two maternity caves (Bat Cave in Naracoorte and Starlight Cave in Warrnambool, Victoria). During my Fulbright year, I have been taking regular fly-out counts with thermal imaging cameras to monitor population trends at Bat Cave and determine the peak population size, monitor pup health to watch for signs of disease or starvation and conduct overwinter cave surveys in the South East region. The information gathered from this study will help guide management strategies that will aid in the recovery of this species.

The Fulbright’s Quintessential Role in Furthering One’s Passion

By Annie Chor, 2012-2013, Spain

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Annie Chor, 2012-2013, Spain, shaking His Majesty the King’s hand post-address

On October 24, 2014, King Felipe VI of Spain will honor the Fulbright Program with the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in recognition of the Program’s educational and cultural exchange that has strengthened links and mutual understanding between the world’s citizens. The King, who is the former Prince of Asturias, will present the award at a grand ceremony in Oviedo, Principality of Asturias, in north-west Spain. 

 

In the following article, Fulbright alumna Annie Chor shares her story of meeting and addressing His Majesty the King of Spain about her Fulbright experiences on September 22, 2014.

UPDATE: Tune in today, Friday, October 24 at 12:30 p.m. EDT to watch King Felipe VI of Spain honor the Fulbright Program with the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in recognition of how the Program has strengthened links and mutual understanding between the world’s citizens. More info and links to the livestream here: http://go.usa.gov/fsMV

Standing at the podium, preparing to address King Felipe of Spain, U.S. Department of State officials, IIE representatives, and fellow Fulbright students, I take a moment to pause and reflect on my journey thus far.

Post undergraduate studies, I worked in the financial sector in capital markets for several years. As I furthered my professional development, I continually felt an urgency to seek efficient solutions to meaningful change. I began to realize my passion was in finding innovative solutions that merged business and improved societies around the world. At this time, a Fulbright award helped me take that important leap to change and gave me the confidence and support to work towards my passion.

Cross(-cultural) Fit(ness): A Fulbright Experience in London

By MaSovaida Morgan, 2012-2013, United Kingdom

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MaSovaida Morgan (third from top left), 2012-2013, United Kingdom, with fellow athletes at CrossFit London

The summer before I departed for my Fulbright year in London, my head was in the clouds with visions of what my life there might look like. I scoured the internet for any information I could find about my university and the neighborhood I planned to live in. I plotted all kinds of extracurricular activities and made plans to get involved with the local community – and in a city as diverse and dynamic as London, I knew the possibilities for imbibing the local culture were endless.

Fulbright awards to the United Kingdom are unique in that at the postgraduate level, scholars carry out their research within the framework of master’s programs at universities around the country. As the Fulbright-University of the Arts London Postgraduate Scholar, my master’s thesis research at London College of Communication (LCC) explored how an individual’s interaction with screens affects modern reading habits and our relationships with printed books. My time at LCC afforded me the unique opportunity to investigate this nascent subject in an interdisciplinary environment while building bonds with some of the most creative and inspiring individuals in media.

There was never a dull moment during my Fulbright year – I was on the go constantly and found opportunities for intercultural engagement everywhere I went. But of all those occasions, the most consistent occurrences were at my local CrossFit gym, CrossFit London. I began CrossFit right before my move to London – of course, as I was envisioning my life the summer before, I figured that I would keep at it but could not have imagined it would be the source of cross-cultural exchange and camaraderie that it was.

Life After Chernobyl

By Michael Forster Rothbart, 2008-2009, Ukraine

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Michael Forster Rothbart, 2008-2009, Ukraine, taking photos in the Semikhody graveyard less than a mile from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The following blog post is by alumnus Michael Forster Rothbart, who coordinated the compilation and assembly of the current Fulbright Alumni Photography Exhibit, now showing in The Atrium Gallery at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, through November 10, 2014. Opening reception and gala to be held at the gallery on Friday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. Visit the gallery’s Facebook page to learn more.

One month into my Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to Ukraine, I moved to Sukachi, a village of 1,200, ten miles from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

What’s it like to live near Chernobyl? It depends who you ask. “Is it even safe?” they asked in Kyiv. “Why would you want to live up there, in the middle of nowhere?!” But when people in Sukachi asked where I lived, I said I rented a room from Nina. “Oh, how convenient,” they’d say. “That’s right in the middle of the village!”

I made friends. I drank vodka with my landlord Nina. I drank tea with Viktor. I photographed my neighbors. Sasha, a recovering alcoholic, taught me how to cut hay. Slava, a doctor at the Chernobyl plant, taught me to make borscht. I went to church. I lived my life like the locals as much as I possibly could.

My commitment to this project began when I discovered how most photojournalists distort Chernobyl. They visit briefly, expecting danger and despair, and come away with photos of deformed children and abandoned buildings. This sensationalist approach obscures the more complex stories about how displaced communities adapt and survive.

In contrast, I sought to create full portraits of these communities. I saw suffering, but also joy and beauty, endurance and hope. Living directly in the villages where I photographed gave me access to events and people with an insider’s perspective.

Fulbright U.S. Student Applications Are Due Today. Good Luck to All Applicants!

Submitting a Fulbright U.S. Student Program application today by 5:00 p.m. EST and want to know what happens next? Check out our interactive application timeline that shows you what happens month-to-month, before, during – and after – you’ve submitted your online application.

Have last minute questions? Contact us! We wish this year’s applicants the best of luck!

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