Tag Archives: Community Engagement

Highlights from the 2017 Philadelphia Fulbright Enrichment Seminar: Civil Society and Community Action

Fulbright U.S. Student Alumna Arielle Moss (2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assitant to Morocco) Captures the Exciting Events

Fulbright to Friendship: Connecting the Past to the Present with the Refugee Community in Trieste, Italy

By Umberto Speranza, 2016- 2017, Italy

Umberto Speranza, 2016-2017, Italy, enjoys the view of the Gulf of Trieste from the Castle of Miramare

Arriving in Italy nearly five months ago, I felt confident and proud to be returning to the country, and region – Friuli Venezia Giulia – where my grandparents emigrated from just 60 years ago. When Umberto and Maria Stolfo said goodbye to Friuli to start a new life in the United States, the Fulbright Program was just 10 years old. I’m certain that the last thing on their mind was the possibility that one day their grandson would return to Italy while serving as a cultural ambassador between their native land and their adopted home. On second thought, perhaps that is exactly what they were thinking.

In a year in which the Fulbright Program celebrated its 70th anniversary, I began my Fulbright journey to Trieste, Italy – the capital city of the region in which my grandparents were born and raised. I am here to assess how political situations impact refugee policy-making at the local level and to highlight the human consequences that ensue. Without a doubt, the journey they made as Italian immigrants to America ultimately paved the way for me to have this Fulbright experience. I am able to use this good fortune to work every day with people arriving from across the world with the hope that Italy might just be the adopted home that will allow them to create a future so bright that their children and grandchildren might never know the suffering that stems from war, terror and oppression.

Being a Cultural Ambassador: Representing Yourself or Your Country?

By Anu Aryal, 2015-2017, Nepal

Anu Aryal, 2015-2017, Nepal, showing some husky spirit during University of Washington Day in Seattle

“I will show my culture during cultural events in school, from our national heritage, to festivals and foods.” When I was answering questions during my Fulbright selection interview back in Nepal two years ago, I was aware that one of the expectations of participating in the Fulbright Foreign Student Program is to fulfill the role of cultural ambassador. But little did I know that the role is not limited to festivals and events, but includes my day-to-day interactions with people in the United States.

Whenever I speak with people within my host institution, the University of Washington, or outside, I realize that not only do I represent myself, but my country as well. During dinners I would say “Sorry, I don’t eat meat, I am a vegetarian”, and the next question would be “Are most people in Nepal vegetarian?” Sometimes, even with strangers, when I am not talking about myself, I would get questions such as “Do people in Nepal speak English well like you?” I appreciated these curiosities and clarified, in my response, that many people in Nepal do eat meat, and not all Nepali speak English. Initially, I didn’t notice this much, but the pattern continued. I would say something about myself and then get asked if I represented a “typical Nepali,” and in most cases my answer was no.

My Fulbright/Millennial Train Journey

By Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, 2012-2014, India

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are re-posting an article from Fulbright Foreign Student from India Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, who through the Millennial Trains Project, explored the challenges faced by South Asian immigrants in several U.S. cities. We hope that the Fulbright community is inspired by Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan’s – and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s – work in fostering positive change in their host and home communities.

Fulbright U.S. Student alumnus to India, and Millennial Trains Project founder, Patrick Dowd, (2010-2011, left), and Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, 2012-2014, India (right), near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

I came to the United States from India over a year ago on a Fulbright Foreign Student Program grant to pursue a master’s in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the country’s oldest public university. I was given this unique opportunity not just to study public health, but to also experience all the diversity American culture and its people have to offer.

So far, my academic experience at UNC has opened my eyes to limitless possibilities. From classroom discussions, seminars, and volunteer work, to my summer practicum at IntraHealth International, each experience has further solidified my understanding and commitment to public health. Within the field, I am specializing in maternal and child health. My research interests are in program monitoring and evaluation, strengthening existing health systems, improving water quality and sanitation, and health programs for adolescent girls. Upon my return home, I plan to work for a non-governmental organization where I can design and implement programs while enhancing government health systems.

Aside from my studies, I have participated in many multicultural potlucks with other students, celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving with American and international friends, and engaged in community health issues through a local health clinic. I feel blessed to have experienced a slice of Southern hospitality in North Carolina. My Fulbright grant has also allowed me to dispel myths surrounding Indian-Americans and South Asian immigrants in the United States.

Walking Across Russia, Walking Across Mississippi

By Hanna Miller, 2013-2014, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Russia

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Hanna Miller, 2013-2014, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Russia (right), surveying Russia through a telescope

Mississippi Heard began in Russia. On a month-long train ride across Russia during my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA), I gathered video and audio recordings while fellow Fulbrighter Stephen Barton photographed the people and places we came across and met. We asked Russians about their perceptions of America and how they defined themselves within their own pre-existing stereotypes.

But, the train ride was just one side of the story. After hearing how Russians felt about my homeland, international (mis)perceptions, and their “true” identity, I was left wondering – what do people from my home think about this country I’ve lived in for the past 10 months?

Born and raised in the South, I grew up in a town of 2,000. When I lived in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan, Russia with a Fulbright ETA, my students often asked me what life was like in America. They had ideas I came from a land of wealth, privilege, and luxury. While I can’t deny the United States is toppling over with too much, it is fact I grew up in the poorest, fattest, least educated state: Mississippi.