Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

From Bean to Cup: A Year in a Global Coffee Capital

By Senay Kahsay, 2013-2014, Ethiopia

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Senay Kahsay, 2013-2014, Ethiopia (left) and friends enjoying a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony alongside Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

During the 2013-2014 academic year, I was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student grant to Ethiopia to study the coffee supply chain.

Growing up in two different cities with strong coffee cultures inspired my appreciation for coffee from a young age. As a child in Addis Ababa, I experienced the rich communal process of the Ethiopian coffee tradition. Later, when my family and I moved to Seattle, I observed the meticulous and creative craft of preparing and marketing specialty coffee. This inspired my desire to develop a better understanding of how my favorite drink travels from farm to cup. As a Fulbright Student in Ethiopia, I studied the country’s coffee supply chain. From my base in the capital, I made trips throughout Ethiopia’s coffee-growing regions to develop my understanding of the industry by surveying farmers, processors, cooperatives, traders and exporters. Through these surveys, I outlined the industry’s demand forecast and communication methods and identified opportunities for improvement. I performed these surveys with the help of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX)—a recently established marketplace that has revolutionized Ethiopian agricultural commodity markets by providing farmers with price transparency and other market information. My project provided the ECX with better visibility of the coffee supply chain.

The Strands Coming Together: An Indian-American in Mumbai

By Aditya Voleti, 2011-2012, India

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Aditya Voleti, 2011-2012, India (orange umbrella), joins some IIT-Bombay students in doing some monsoon exploration of the mountains of Matheran surrounding the city of Mumbai, India

My Fulbright year can be described as the culmination of all the disparate strands of my academic career and personal identity. I was an Indian-American double-major in Mathematics and Sanskrit; so it made sense to go to Mumbai (also known as Bombay) and live for a year as an American expatriate in India translating Sanskrit mathematical texts into English.

My application came together through constant talks with professors, their connections, their connections’ connections and so on. I advise potential applicants to tap into their professors’ networks as well. Through my professors, I was connected with a Sanskrit mathematician to host me at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and with editors who used their deep research and Fulbright knowledge to make my application a winning one.

While I could have gone to one of over 140 different countries on a Fulbright grant, tying my application to India was a conscious decision. Living in Bombay with an independent income, in my own room, while making friends at a university could not have been a more radical departure from my previous experiences in the country, where I was chauffeured around by my family and mainly interacted with my cousins. As one of several Indian-American Fulbrighters, I was able to bring a different, and crucial, element to the cross-cultural exchange. If you find an opportunity in your heritage country, consider it seriously.

Impact Begins with the Individual

By Stephanie Herzog, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Romania

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Stephanie Herzog, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Romania (left, back row by blackboard) takes some of her students from her English Language Enthusiasts Club at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi, Romania to a local middle school English class to give her university students hands-on English teaching experience

About a year after I had completed my Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Romania, I received an email from a student in one of the literary analysis courses I had taught at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iasi:

“…In the past few days I’ve been rereading Fitzgerald’s ‘Babylon’ revisited and ‘Cathedral’ by Raymond Carver and I actually got myself a copy of S. Anderson’s ‘Winesburg, Ohio’ because I had a very nice time reading the first short story of the collection. I am writing you this email because I really wanted to thank you for the wonderful opportunity you gave us to study these beautiful short stories and for the great way of discussing them in class. Your teaching method, academic and professional yet very warm and good-hearted, had a very high impact on me and made me actually look for more stories from those authors and even others. Thanks to you, I’m a little more into American literature than I was before, and I’m really grateful for that…”

Measuring the impact you have had on the local community you lived in while completing a Fulbright grant is not very easy, but this message reminded me that impact begins on an individual level. Everyone I had encountered and worked with while I was in Romania resulted in a very unique cultural and educational exchange that challenged my own mindset. It was nice to know, from the email above, that I challenged the mindsets of those I had met as well.

What to Do When Offered Barbeque Stingray in Singapore

By Patrick Kramer, 2013-2014, Singapore

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Patrick Kramer, 2013-2014, Singapore (third from left), and the running club Kikikukiki in Pulau Ubin, Singapore

Be bold. Being a Fulbrighter requires being bold above anything else. During my year in Singapore, the simple act of saying “yes” led to an amazing range of experiences: preparing dumplings by hand for Chinese New Year, running an ultra-marathon, creating many strong relationships that made me feel at home halfway around the world, and yes, eating sambal (barbeque) stingray.

As a researcher, I was studying dengue virus and how it morphs from a non-infectious to an infectious state. By itself, the project was quite technical and could have remained as an isolated series of laboratory experiments. However, by reaching out to the local public health officials, I gained insight into the effects of the disease from a social perspective and was able to contextualize my results in a broader picture. Relationships made in the lab also led to new collaborations, which led to the aforementioned holiday dumpling cooking sessions.

Don Quixote’s Fast Lane!

By Radhameris A. Gómez Gabriel, 2013-2014, Spain

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Radhameris A. Gómez Gabriel, 2013-2014, Spain, attending the Fulbright España Mid-Year Meeting in Valencia (Photo credit: Fulbright España)

During the 2013-2014 academic year, I had the opportunity to travel with a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship to the medieval city of Toledo, Spain to experience nine months of excitement and discovery. As a transportation engineer, my passion is road safety—that is, the safe movement of people on our roadways. In Toledo, I was hosted at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha (UCLM), where I researched the various methods of facilitating the safe movement of vulnerable road users at highway-rail crossings.

Alongside my Spanish advisors and colleagues, I researched the various engineering, educational and policy practices that have been implemented in parts of the FEVE Rail system in the Northern Region of Cantabria in Spain and how this information can benefit U.S. rail safety. I spent time with engineers and railroad staff in the cities of Torrelavega and Santander, performing field visits as well as exchanging knowledge on common issues of the rail sector on both sides of the pond.