Christiane Hilaire, 1958-1959, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from France (photo courtesy of Bloomfield Hills High School and Penny Shaw)
During my sophomore year at Bloomfield Hills High School in Michigan in 1959, I was blessed by having Christiane Hilaire, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, as my French teacher. While I was already fascinated by the peoples and cultures of the world, as I had had two pen pals, in Germany and Japan, since age ten. It was Christiane, though, who inspired me and helped me center my education and career toward an international focus.
For an adolescent of fifteen, Christiane, at age twenty-three, became an easy role model. I was captivated by her unique looks and her mannerisms that appeared different and intriguing to me. I loved the way her English had that certain charm of non-native speakers who often translate directly from their native language.
She shared with her students not only the grammar and vocabulary of our textbooks, but personal stories of the village where she grew up. She taught us French songs, showed French movies, and explained history and customs that were meaningful to her. In short, she had a talent for teaching.
In the spring of that year, I read an article in Holiday Magazine about the city of Grenoble, France, including its university. I immediately wrote for information about programs. In the package that arrived, I was notified that I had already been accepted! What a thrill for a sixteen-year-old. It was an intensive French language program for international students. I asked my father if he would pay for me to go to Grenoble for my freshman year of college and he agreed!
Cam Terwilliger, 2013-2014, Canada (right), with Cultural Liaison Thomas Deer (right) from the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center
Ever since I graduated from my MFA in creative writing, I’ve been plugging away on a historical novel titled, Yet Wilderness Grew in My Heart. Set in colonial New York and Québec during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), it focuses on the experience of the Mohawk, the indigenous people that compose the eastern nation of the Iroquois League, a sophisticated confederacy that played a decisive role in the war. From the very start, I loved reading about Mohawk culture, as well as how this complicated people clashed and combined with Europeans on both sides of the Canadian border. However, I must admit: when it came to writing the novel itself, it was no picnic. In fact, it was quite a struggle.
As any writer will tell you, working on a long project can make you feel disconnected from life—particularly when you’re fitting it around your day job. Throughout the late nights or early mornings, you spend so much time hunched over your computer that you start to wonder why you’re doing it at all. What relevance might your writing possibly have to the world carrying on outside your window? Well—thanks to my Fulbright grant to Canada—I’m happy to say that I now have resounding answers to these questions.
(Back row, left to right) Kelly Rivera, Diana Heise, Cameron Kruse, MaSovaida Morgan, Paul Bostrom, Lauren Gaydosh, Carlos Rivas, Samuel Gordon, Giuseppe Cespedes, Jacob Vidourek, Sharief El-Gabri, Rebecca Littman-Smith, Alexis Schmidt, Janice Feng, Kia Hall; (front row, left to right), Mario Hoang Nguyen, Alyssa Meyer, Kevin Fomalont, A. Hameto Benkreira, Michael Young; (not pictured) Arienne Jones
On Friday, December 6, 21 newly-selected 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Alumni Ambassadors met in Washington, DC to receive training on how to promote and recruit for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Staff members from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education (IIE), along with previous Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors, shared tips on giving an effective presentation and emphasized the unique, important role that Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors play in inspiring diverse students, Fulbright Program Advisers, college administrators – and anyone interested in the program – to learn more about it and the power of educational and cultural exchange.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassador Program was established in 2008 to identify, train and engage a select group of approximately 15-25 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni to serve as representatives, recruiters and spokespersons for the Fulbright Program. They are selected annually through recommendations from Fulbright Commissions, U.S. Embassy staff, area managers, the Fulbright Student Program Outreach Division and approved by the Fulbright Program’s sponsor, ECA. Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors come from an array of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, states, fields of study, institutions and have participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in all world areas.
Anastasiia Iefanova, 2011-2013, Ukraine, conducting experimental procedures on the fabrication of semitransparent dye-sensitized solar cells at South Dakota State University
My Fulbright experience started with a Pre-academic Language Program at the University of Arkansas. There, I had an unforgettable experience interacting with students from different countries who became my friends while studying English with me. Meeting people from different parts of the world was one of the highlights of my Fulbright experience as it broadened my world view and helped me to better understand people from different cultural backgrounds. Living with a host family also improved my understanding of American culture as well as my English skills. My host family was very kind and helped me with everything. At the end of my Pre-academic Language Program, my English skills had improved exponentially. These experiences helped me to successfully begin my academic program at South Dakota State University and become more independent while living in the United States.
My master’s program in electrical engineering at South Dakota State University was initially very challenging. Everything was different from my previous school: the academics, how things were organized, and the teaching style. After a couple of months, things became more familiar, and I started to focus more on my research by working with Dr. Mahdi Farrokh Baroughi and his group.
Join Fulbright staff and 2012-2013 Fulbright-Clinton Fellow Rebecca Bartlein tomorrow for a webinar offering tips and advice on how to apply for the 2014-2015 competition.
Optional Tutorials: Introduction to Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship
The webinar will begin at 8:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.
All times are U.S. Eastern Time Zone.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar. If you have not already, you will need to download the GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar client software.
Windows: Windows XP or newer
Mac: OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or newer
Becky Bartlein, 2012-2013, Fulbright-Clinton Fellow to the Ivory Coast (left), with Ministry colleagues at the U.S. Embassy library in Abidjan
Since I arrived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast last September, I have been reminded over and over again how many aspects of Ivoirian life and work have been affected by the post-electoral crisis of 2011. Ivoirians, no matter what their political affiliation, are very ready for stability and peace in their country. Many of my conversations with colleagues and friends have revealed their personal experiences with violence, but mostly focus on weddings, births, and other life events. With the U.S. Presidential elections in 2012, we discussed how peaceful transfers of power are important in creating lasting development and stability. Walking around the National Public Health Institute (INSP) where I work, the destruction from the crisis is visible and permeates every aspect of the functioning of the institute: many researchers are camped out around the conference table, as their offices have yet to be refurbished; the laboratories are a mess of shattered glass and dusty, broken furniture; and the library is full of dusty, ripped and mildewed books, as the windows were smashed, thus leaving it open to the elements. Compared with the conditions and resources that I had while doing my public health training, I am even more amazed by the dedication and high quality of work done here at the institute.