Phuong Nguyen, 2014-2016, Vietnam (third from right), with her students in New York City as a One to World Global Guide teaching about sustainability in Vietnam
I am Phuong Nguyen, a Vietnamese Fulbrighter. I have been studying for my MA in Publishing at Rosemont College, a very beautiful school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Besides studying, I volunteer as a Global Guide Volunteer with One To World, whose mission is to create global citizens and inspire a peaceful world through one-of-a-kind programs in classrooms and communities. I am also an Emerging International Journalist Volunteer with Global Philadelphia Association (GPA), created to assist and encourage greater interaction between the many international organizations and internationally-minded people in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
The volunteering experiences have unexpectedly helped my academic performance. As a Global Guide, I had an opportunity to hone my presentation skills by giving lectures to various audiences, from elementary students, to high school students. To make a lesson on complex issues simple and engaging for my students was difficult, but it helped me to get to know the core issues and prepare for tests, presentations and papers for my college classes.
Bryan Furman, 2013-2014, Tajikistan, (in front of class, in white shirt), leading a discussion on the importance of psycho-social support services
I wrote my Fulbright application “knowing” exactly what I would accomplish.
My advisers and I spent months drafting my Statement of Grant Purpose for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Tajikistan. I developed a project to apply my advanced Russian and Persian language proficiencies and four years of Central Asia area studies in tracking trends in Tajik foreign policy. Additionally, I secured a placement at the prestigious Tajik Academy of Sciences and made contact with leading Tajik scholars.
These well-laid plans fell apart about two months after starting my grant. In my proposal, I outlined how I would interview government representatives and review official documents to gain unprecedented insight into Tajik foreign affairs. Wishful thinking. Whatever access I expected never came—a problem I attributed to my lack of on-the-ground experience. With my project going nowhere, I felt I had in some way “failed” Fulbright.
Tri Murniati, 2014-2016, Indonesia (second from right), having fun drawing with kids at the Fayetteville Public Library for the Macaroni Kid ‘Be the Match’ Bone Marrow Registry Drive
My name is Tri Murniati and I am from Indonesia. Currently, I am studying at the University of Arkansas majoring in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. Community service and volunteering activities have helped me to adjust to my new life in the United States as a Fulbrighter, and feel fortunate to have had these opportunities. They have allowed me to meet new people, make friends and learn many things. Since arriving in the Unites States, I have participated in two large community service events.
The first was the Macaroni Kid ‘Be the Match’ Bone Marrow Registry Drive and the second was the Town Branch Clean-up. My participation in these activities was organized by the University of Arkansas Muslim Student Association (UArk MSA). Ever since I joined UArk MSA, I have had an opportunity get involved in community service activities. The Macaroni Kid ‘Be the Match’ Bone Marrow Registry Drive was held last September at the Fayetteville Public Library in Arkansas. The event was hosted by Team Macaroni Kid Fayetteville, which has partnered with Be the Match to help patients get bone marrow transplants. Team Macaroni Kid invites many committed donors to join the Be the Match Registry, raise funds, and spread the word about this special way of saving lives. The event was also intended to raise awareness about helping other people. As a volunteer, my main task was to assist kids while their parents signed up for the registry, all of which ended up being pretty fun.
Olanike Lawore, 2013-2014, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Nigeria (second from left), working closely with her students at Tulane University
My name is Olanike Lawore. I am from Nigeria and was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) at Tulane University, New Orleans between 2013 and 2014. My Fulbright experience was a life-changing one, as it expanded my academic orientation in many ways and provided me with an opportunity to explore and understand the American graduate school world while thoroughly honing my teaching skills.
My Fulbright experience started with an orientation held at Syracuse University, where my Fulbright colleagues from other parts of the world and I were provided with information on what to expect in a typical U.S. university, how to adapt to our host communities and how to carry out our FLTA responsibilities successfully at our respective host campuses. The orientation was quite useful and helped us to prepare for the tasks ahead.
Arriving at my host institution, I commenced my teaching duties while also taking graduate level courses in linguistics and literature, an experience that was challenging but invaluable. Consequently, my multi-tasking skills grew by leaps and bounds.
Armaan Siddiqi, 2011-2012, Morocco, stands in the historic Tin Mal mosque in the High Atlas Mountains. The mosque, an architectural feat and current UNESCO world heritage site, was constructed in the twelfth century during the Almohad Dynasty to commemorate its famous ruler, Mohamad Ibn Tumart.
After navigating a series of sinuous allies in the sprawling labyrinth that is the old city of Fez, I finally arrive at my destination: the ornate shrine and mosque of Moulay Idriss II—the patron saint of Fez and son of the first ruler of Morocco. I breathe a deep sigh of relief: finally, I’ve found it! I tiptoe in, allowing the sights and sounds of the shrine to wash over me. I find a quiet corner and begin journal entry #1: “This is but the first of many sacred sites I aspire to visit while researching Islam in Morocco this year…”
Rereading the above excerpt, written four years ago as a wide-eyed Fulbright U.S. Student researcher in Morocco, fills me with immense nostalgia and gratitude; my Fulbright experience was, without any exaggeration, one of the most formative experiences of my life, personally and professionally. In delving deep into Islamic history and theology for my research, I not only deepened an understanding of my project (which examined the relationship between Muslim piety and Moroccan politics) but I also realized the tremendous diversity of Islam, and my fellow Muslims.
Living in Morocco as an American Muslim of Pakistani origin made for particularly interesting encounters. Casual conversations with Moroccans, other students and travelers from around the world routinely transformed into profound and passionate discussions on race, faith and politics in the U.S. and Middle East. Little did I realize then that these impromptu conversations would also contribute greatly to my research. Indeed, some of the greatest lessons during one’s Fulbright year arise from the most coincidental circumstances: a chance encounter with a Moroccan-American expatriate at an ATM machine in Fez, for example, led to an afternoon of hearing spooky djinn stories from his childhood with another Fulbright friend researching Moroccan folklore. Through my host institution—the Sidi Mohamad ben Abdallah University of Fez, I was connected with very helpful faculty and students who further enriched my research and invited me to collaborate with their exciting projects.