We Are the “They” That Can Change the World: My Hult Prize Experience

I have always been passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Studying economics as an undergrad exposed me to the field’s power and how it can be used as a tool More »

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

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 More »

Detecting Gravitational Waves at Home and Abroad

Two months ago, physicists around the world were set ‘chirping’ with the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected for the first time. The detection is the culmination of decades of work, More »

Faces of Williamson, West Virginia: A Photo Essay

I’ve only been in Williamson, West Virginia for 48 hours and even though it’s not enough time to have a deep sense of everything that is happening in town, I’ve found a More »

 

A Cowboy Rides the Rails Across Russia and Kazakhstan

By Ryan Bell, 2015-2016, Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow

Ryan Bell, 2015-2016, Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow to Russia and Kazakhstan, visiting the ranch he helped start in Voronezh, Russia. (Photo Credit: Michael Hanson)

The train was stopped at a border crossing between Russia and Kazakhstan. I opened my cabin door and saw three guards walking down the aisle. One carried an AK-47, another led a bomb-sniffing dog, and a third held a briefcase, presumably for processing each passenger’s immigration documents.

My passport and visas were in order; however, my cabin was not. The small table was crowded with my laptop, audio recorder, and notebooks. Camera equipment and clothing spilled out from my roller bag where it sat on one of the vacant bunks. A messy cabin would not make a good impression, so I hurried to tidy up before the guards reached my door.

(A Russian friend had let me in on a secret of traveling by rail: you can often get a four-person cabin all to yourself by reserving a bunk next to the bathroom. “It didn’t smell that bad,” she said.)

As a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow, I logged 33 travel days riding in a train car, zigzagging 23,780 miles across Russia and Kazakhstan. That’s just a few hundred miles short of matching the Earth’s circumference – 24,901 miles. Mobility was key for my research project Comrade Cowboys about farmers in Russia and Kazakhstan who were rebuilding their livestock industries with the help of cattle and cowboys imported from the United States.

Big Experience in a Small Country: Learning About and Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Luxembourg

By David Bernstein, 2013-2014, Luxembourg

David Bernstein, 2013-2014, Luxembourg (right), interviewing Mr. Rhett Power, a distinguished American entrepreneur, author, and business coach, during a talk show style event for local entrepreneurs and investors in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. (Photo Credit: Carolyn Turpin)

Nestled between Germany, France, and Belgium resides my second home and the country that welcomed me with open arms for one of the best years of my life – the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Over the 2013-2014 academic year, I had the distinct honor of being a Fulbright Study/Research Grantee to Luxembourg. While I expected my experience in the Grand Duchy to be life-changing, I did not fully grasp how much the opportunity would positively impact me until I actually arrived and began interacting with professors, classmates, and others from across my host country.

The main element of my Fulbright proposal revolved around earning a Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the University of Luxembourg, a new beacon of higher education in the European Union that had been founded only ten years earlier. With plans to return to the United States following my Fulbright experience to pursue a dual MD/MBA degree, I arrived in Luxembourg eager to learn important entrepreneurial and innovation skills that I could adjust, as needed, and apply in my future medical career. However, upon entering the classroom for the first time, I knew that I would learn more than I had originally planned.

Bringing the United States and India Closer Together: Discovering My Role as an Indian-American Fulbrighter

By Shayak Sengupta, 2015-2016, India

Shayak Sengupta, 2015-2016, India, sitting in front of output from WRF-Chem on his monitor, an atmospheric model maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. Sengupta used this model for his Fulbright research to simulate the atmosphere and air pollution over India and ran the model on HPC 2013, one of the fastest supercomputers in India located at IIT Kanpur.

“You grew up in the United States? But your Bengali is so fluent!”

“Why don’t you speak with an accent? Didn’t you have problems learning English?”

“It’s interesting that you came here. Don’t most people go to the U.S.?”

These are just some of the pleasantly surprising comments I heard throughout my experience as a Fulbright-Nehru Student Researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), where I studied air pollution control at Indian coal power stations. While India’s economy continues to grow at a tremendous rate and the country works to deliver electricity to millions of its citizens who do not have power, it still faces challenges related to poor air quality, especially in urban areas. During my Fulbright-Nehru grant, I conducted field visits to coal power plants and used computational models to understand how better air pollution control at these stations would affect ambient air quality.

Making My Big Plans Reality on Fulbright

By Noaquia Callahan, 2016-2017, Germany

Noaquia Callahan (left), Didem Uca (middle), and Laura Lowry (right) – all PhD Candidates and 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Students to Germany, at the 2017 Berlin Seminar hosted by the German-American Fulbright Commission, in Berlin, Germany.

I arrived in Berlin with a set of expectations: take to the historic city like a travelista; delve deep into the European aspects of my dissertation project on African American feminist transnational activism; volunteer with student organizations at my host university; and improve my German language skills. But adjusting to life abroad took longer than expected, and opportunities to engage my university and neighborhood communities seemed out of reach. In retrospect, this was precisely the opportunity I needed to bring my creative visions for my Fulbright year to life. The first step would be to identify my objectives. The next step would be to articulate my thoughts on paper.

With a renewed spirit of infinite possibilities, I mapped out strategic steps to accomplish my goals, and used professional networks I had established in Washington, DC during my research fellowship in African American History at the German Historical Institute. For me, this meant developing as a public intellectual by connecting my scholarship on the little-known history of African American women cultural ambassadors to my community engagement work advancing diversity and inclusion in study abroad. The first step was accepting an invitation from Universität Halle to share my knowledge of African American history with German high school teachers and provide them with exercises to integrate into their curriculum focused on U.S. history, politics, and culture. By participating in the three-day workshop, I met German scholars and U.S. Embassy Berlin officials with shared interests, thus making myself more visible for future opportunities for collaboration.

Two Words, Eight Letters: Thank You

By Kinga Zsofia Horvath, 2016-2018, Hungary

Fulbright Amizade participants from left to right: Edward Lo, Fulbright U.S. Student to Brazil; David E. Natarén Oyuela, Fulbright Student from Honduras; Mylinh Huang, Fulbright U.S. Student to Vietnam; Kinga Zsofia Horvath, Fulbright Student from Hungary in front of 34:Ate, a Williamson local restaurant.

Editor’s note: In April 2017, twelve Fulbrighters engaged in a week-long service learning project in Williamson, West Virginia, an Appalachian community with valuable lessons to share about sustainability, perseverance and revitalization. This is one in a series of blog posts from the Fulbrighters who visited Williamson. The Fulbrighters were asked to focus on their experiences in Williamson, as well as their engagement with local American community leaders. Visit the Fulbright Amizade 2017 Storify for more details on their journey.

In the small coal-mining town of Williamson, West Virginia lie many gems: the wild and wonderful landscape, the hospitality of the community, and the persistent work of everyday heroes who make miracles there. In Williamson, it does not matter whether you meet an 8-year-old girl participating in an after-school program, a 40-year-old man playing basketball with underserved children, or a 70-year-old beekeeper, you can experience the fact that “giving back to the community” is ageless. During the first week of April 2017, twelve enthusiastic Fulbrighters were able to experience and contribute to the ways in which the residents of Williamson make a difference. We joined local residents in building community gardens, turning rocky mining lands into fertile soil, and teaching the next generation how to give back. This is a thank you note to all of the people who were part of the Fulbright Amizade service-learning project and made an impact on our lives, inspiring us to take our turn to build a better future for the next generation.