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Telling Your Story: 5 Tips and Tricks from a Fulbright-National Geographic Storyteller

September 29, 2021

Katie Thornton recording for her Fulbright podcast in a cemetery in the United Kingdom.

One connection at a time, Fulbright brings people closer together and moves nations closer to a more peaceful world. What better way to build connections at home and abroad than through creatively telling your Fulbright story?

To get your project started, we’ve asked Katie Thornton, an award-winning multimedia journalist and Fulbright-National Geographic Storyteller, to provide tips on crafting the perfect storytelling project through audio, visual, or written formats.

Katie, who finds the most thought-provoking stories in the least expected places, most recently authored A Brief History of Women in Bars: A Minnesota Story in Three Rounds, an audio document that looks at how the state’s temperance movement set the stage for its women’s suffrage movement. For her Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, Katie traveled to the United Kingdom and Singapore to produce Death in the Digital Age, a podcast exploring the relevance of cemeteries in an era when land is strained, communities are physically distant, and digital documentation is pervasive.

We hope Katie’s insights help you produce the perfect Fulbright reflection.

1. The most important thing is to just start.

Starting a creative project can be intimidating, but perhaps the hardest part is getting started. The most important thing you can do is to begin–to take your idea and give it life.

Ask yourself: what skills and knowledge do I need to gain before I can turn this idea into a reality? Do I need to educate yourself on a topic? Learn how to edit audio? Make a list, and start checking things off.

Katie Thornton works at her home studio on podcast projects.

2. Use online tutorials to help get the best quality product.

One of the reasons I care so much about audio is because it is an accessible medium–both to produce and to consume. At one point during my Fulbright, I didn’t have access to a studio, and I recorded an NPR story under a sheet in my bedroom. My home “studio” is my closet.

There are tons of ways to use the materials and devices you already have–like pillows, blankets, and your phone–to get good quality audio. There are also a lot of great free and cheap editing programs. Turn to the internet for tips!

Katie Thornton recording in the studio.

3. Listen, gather, and compile.

Listen carefully to the sounds around you, and to a variety of podcasts and audio media. How do different podcasts bring in music and ambient sounds (like cars honking, leaves crunching, birds chirping, people chanting, etc.) to set the scene?

Start recording the sounds that define your daily life and surroundings. Record your thoughts throughout the day, and try putting together a brief audio diary that describes it. Ask a friend or two to do the same, share your pieces, and have a Zoom chat about your audio diaries. You can also try this with writing, painting, or any other creative pursuit.

Katie Thornton (right) working on her audio project in a Singaporean cemetery on 清明節 (Qingming Jie, “Tomb-Sweeping Day”).

4. Be realistic.

Completing a project, like a podcast, can take time. Make a portion of your project (e.g. a few episodes or articles) before you commit to an ambitious publishing schedule. Take into account any logistical challenges you may encounter, including: faulty internet connections, weather conditions, your schedule, etc.

Katie Thornton (left) completes an interview while observing social distancing protocols.

5. Give people a reason to care, seek feedback, and put it out there!

There are very, very few pieces of media that appeal to a target audience of “anyone and everyone.” Think about who your work is for, and why you hope it will resonate with them. If you’re sharing stories or opinions that don’t come from personal experience, be sure to involve, listen to, learn from, and get feedback from people directly involved.

In general, seek lots of feedback. You may be surprised at just how many people–even strangers–are willing to listen/read your work and offer feedback! Allow people to give both general feedback and ask them specific questions about your work.

And then, start sharing! Use tools where you already have a presence–in community groups, via social media, etc. Good luck, and have fun!

Are you an educator looking for ways to use storytelling in your classroom or are you looking for more training to help you with audio storytelling? Click here to view the “Storytelling for Impact in your Classroom: Audio” course, a self-paced, free, online, video-based course designed by Katie in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

Katie Thornton (right) working in the field.

U.S. Fulbright

Back to School: What You Should Know About Securing a Letter of Affiliation

July 12, 2021

By Fulbright Program Staff

Congratulations on deciding to further your education abroad by undertaking an independent research project or graduate degree through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program! You’ve confirmed your eligibility, determined your host country, and selected an award. Now what?

In this post, we will explain how to successfully navigate an important portion of the application process: securing a letter of affiliation from your prospective host institution. As the primary location for your Fulbright experience, successfully engaging a host institution and adviser is critical to your application’s success. Read on to learn how to secure your letter of affiliation:

 

Study/Research Award

The Study/Research Award allows young professionals to design an independent research project, working with advisers at foreign universities and institutions in approximately 140 countries. In general, this award requires a letter of affiliation with the prospective institution.

What is a Letter of Affiliation?

A letter of affiliation outlines a host institution’s support of your proposed Fulbright project. A letter should come from an individual or team at an institution with whom you will be working closely during your Fulbright.

  • Examples of affiliations include universities, laboratories, libraries, archives, non-governmental organizations, etc.

Letters should be appropriate for your proposed project, and the letter writer should demonstrate a clear understanding of your work, outlining how the host institution will support the applicant and project.

Letter of Affiliation Requirements

All affiliation letters are:

  • Dependent on country and award: Check the host country and award pages for the most up-to-date criteria.
  • Printed on institutional letterhead: Make sure it has a signature from the appropriate contact!
  • Not confidential: Applicants receive the letter and upload it into the online application prior to the national deadline.

An applicant may include up to three letters of affiliation if the letters are appropriate and necessary to their project. Adding unfocused letters may confuse application reviewers and distract from your application. For a comprehensive look at affiliation requirements, view the Application Components page and recorded Affiliation webinar.

 

Graduate Degree Grants

The Study/Research Award also includes the “Fulbright Graduate Degree Grants” subtype, which funds study at an affiliated foreign institution or degree program.

What is a letter of affiliation for graduate degree grants?

For applicants pursuing a graduate degree:

  • Your letter of affiliation is the official acceptance letter proving admission into the graduate degree program. This not typically required at the time of the application. All candidates should review their award page for more information.
  • Even if the Fulbright award does not require an official letter of acceptance by the Fulbright application deadline, all candidates are encouraged to reach out to their proposed adviser or department chair to inquire about receiving a letter of support prior to admission decisions, which may be uploaded into the application.

Chiamaka Ukachukwu, 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student to Belgium, celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science with her fellow lab mates in the Jean-François Collet Lab, Institut de Duve.

Tips and Best Practices

A few final pointers for a smooth affiliation process:

  1. Start early! This simple-but-crucial step will give you time to brainstorm, draft, revise, solicit feedback, contact potential host advisers, and everything else that goes into a compelling Fulbright application.
    • “Start your search as early as possible, it will be really helpful. I emailed 15-20 professors at different universities in order to find my affiliation!” Isra Hussain, 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student to Austria and 2020 Fulbright Alumni Ambassador
  2. Review the academic literature. Looking into topics and authors within your academic discipline is a great way to acquire more knowledge, better understand your Fulbright project, and determine which professionals may be a resource to you.
    • “I spent a lot of time researching the background of these professors that had responded and reviewing their own research” – Isra Hussain, 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student to Austria and 2020 Fulbright Alumni Ambassador
  3. Utilize personal and professional networks. While the idea of creating an independent research project or graduate school application is daunting, your networks are here to help. On campus, reach out to faculty members, a reference librarian, and your Fulbright Program Adviser; off campus, get in touch with your professional and personal connections, Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors, former Fulbright U.S. Students and U.S. Scholars, and the Fulbright Association.
    • “Tapping into your network is really important. Faculty network and faculty relations are a great place to tap into.” – Kurt Davies, Fulbright Program Adviser and Director of Global Awards at New York University
  4. Be flexible. Your patience and flexibility throughout the application process will help both you and your potential affiliate perform your best. Be sure to:
    • Meet your host institution where they are, and adjust the scope of your project based on the resources available. Be prepared to share a basic overview of your proposed research/study project when contacting potential affiliates.
    • Conduct yourself professionally and use a clear, positive tone.
    • Explain the Fulbright Program, including Fulbright’s funding and grant benefits, which prevent financial obligation from the institution.
      • “Open the conversation with a sense of what can I give to your organization, how can I contribute to your ongoing research.” – Kurt Davies, Fulbright Program Adviser and Director of Global Awards at New York University
  5. Cast a wide net. Finding a host affiliation takes time, so pursue multiple leads and ideas until you find the right institution and adviser.

We hope this article provides clarity into letters of affiliation, and helps you create the best application you can. Start early, do your research, and don’t give up. You can do it!

2019 Fulbright Austria participants at the TU Ball at the Hofburg Imperial Palace.

Foreign Fulbright U.S. Fulbright

I Am Fulbright: 5 Takeaways from HBCU Institutional Leaders 2019-2020

June 24, 2021

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) recognized 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities as Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders for their noteworthy engagement with the Fulbright Program during the 2019-2020 academic year. Now in its second year, HBCU Institutional Leaders celebrates institutional success in allowing students and faculty from all fields and backgrounds to achieve through the Fulbright Program.

“Congratulations to this year’s 20 Fulbright Historically Black College and University Institutional Leaders,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Matthew Lussenhop. “Fulbrighters from HBCUs carry their identities and school pride with them abroad, allowing people from other countries to learn about these accomplished individuals and about this dynamic group of American institutions and their distinguished legacy.”

Through virtual events, articles, and social media, the Fulbright Program and HBCU Institutional Leaders encouraged other HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions to find out how they, too, can help their students and communities take advantage of the resources and opportunities that Fulbright offers.

Didn’t catch everything during the campaign? Not to worry, here are 5 takeaways from HBCU Institutional Leaders 2019-2020:

 

1. Celebrating Black Excellence (Virtually)

We celebrated, you celebrated! Institutional Leaders, HBCU faculty, alumni, students, and others took to social media to celebrate HBCU impact in the Fulbright Program. Watch the Yard, created by Fulbright alumnus to Germany Jonathan Rabb, highlighted the 2019-2020 HBCU Institutional Leaders via stories and videos, while HBCU and Black-related organizations, including HBCU Pride Nation, Support Black Colleges, HBCU Alum, My Degree is Black, and Black Biz Directory, amplified the message.

Print and web publications, such as Diverse Issues in Higher Education, University Business News, Yahoo News, Black Engineer, Newsbreak, and the HBCU Campaign Fund spread the word of what HBCUs mean to the Fulbright Program, and how HBCUs and MSIs can get involved.

On Twitter, Fulbright hosted #HBCUFulbrightChat with Fulbright HBCU, an alumni affinity group created and led by Fulbright and Morgan State University alumna Ashleigh Brown-Grier. The chat, which highlighted Fulbright’s long-standing engagement with HBCUs, provided resources to apply, and included personal grantee experiences, had more than 87K impressions! Special thanks to Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Bluefield State College, Fayetteville State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Alabama A&M University, University of North Texas International Affairs, as well as the Rutgers Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, and HBCU students and faculty for attending.

 

Shondrea McCargo, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student to Malaysia

2. The HBCU Institutional Leaders Tell Their Fulbright Story

Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., president of Jackson State University 

David J. Wilson, Ed.D., president of Morgan State University

HBCU presidents, Fulbright Program Advisers and Scholar Liaisons, and HBCU alumni shared how Fulbright impacts their campuses and communities.

Howard University

“Howard University is delighted to be recognized as an HBCU Institutional Leader by the Fulbright Program. The Fulbright experience has made a significant positive impact on our Howard scholars, helping them to become better global leaders who are prepared to be servant leaders with an international perspective,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA.

Morgan State University

“We hold the Fulbright Program and all it represents with the highest regard, and to have that level of reverence reciprocated by way of Morgan being distinguished as a Fulbright Institutional Leader truly reaffirms our commitment to the Fulbright mission,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “This year marks Morgan’s 70th year working in partnership with the Fulbright Program to advance the global perspective of our scholars and promote the inherent value of teaching, studying, and research in a foreign milieu. I applaud the efforts of our Division of International Affairs team and the many other faculty, staff and student Fulbrighters who have made exemplary contributions to the success of Morgan’s Fulbright program.”

Spelman College

“Spelman and Fulbright are similar in their interest in students who are curious,” said Michelle Hite, Ph.D., director of International Fellowships and Scholarships, director of the Honors Program, and associate professor of English. “Like Fulbright, the College puts an emphasis on preparing students to be global leaders by making available opportunities for them to conduct research and engage in study abroad experiences.”

Texas Southern University

“Texas Southern University is pleased to be recognized as an HBCU Institutional Leader by the Fulbright Program for a second year,” said TSU Interim President Kenneth Huewitt. “This distinction speaks to TSU’s commitment to foster connections with students and culture worldwide and serves as a testament to TSU’s legacy of Excellence in Achievement.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Dr. Kendall T. Harris said the university is honored to be recognized again as a Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leader. “This recognition reflects the commitment of our faculty and staff to provide global opportunities that advance the student experience and further the University’s mission. This distinction recognizes TSU’s continued dedication to faculty excellence and its legacy of international engagement.”

 

3. The Fulbright HBCU Symposium

On June 3rd, the Fulbright Program hosted the Fulbright HBCU Symposium to discuss Fulbright opportunities and resources for HBCUs, the benefits of a Fulbright experience, and the role that the Fulbright Program plays in supporting HBCU campus internationalization, global awareness, and engagement. The symposium was open to all, and specifically designed for HBCU faculty, staff, and stakeholders. Dr. Dafina Blacksher Diabate, director of International Programs, and Fulbright Program Adviser and Scholar Liaison at Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Dr. Leah Creque, professor of English, director of the Honors Program, and Fulbright Program Adviser and Scholar Liaison at Morehouse College, as well as Fulbright Program staff, provided practical information and tips on how to work with the Fulbright Student, Scholar, and Specialist programs. More than 250 people registered, including representatives of 38 HBCUs and 16 non-HBCU U.S. colleges and universities, as well as nonprofits, international organizations, and other individuals.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University and 1967 Fulbright U.S. Student to France, welcomed attendees and shared the benefits of the Fulbright Program on her life and career:

“The Fulbright Program is built on a very simple principle that if we know others on a person-to-person level, we’ll be better able to stave off the kind of discord and animosity that can so easily arise among peoples of different backgrounds and cultures […] Studying at the University of Lyon became the centerpiece of, and the vehicle for, the shaping of my views on how I could relate to and contribute not just to my small community, but to others across the world. Living and studying in France as a Fulbrighter powered my further study and is one of the primary reasons I’ve been able to lead a wide variety of constituents. I feel comfortable in any setting. Fulbright gave me that, and so I say to my students at Prairie View ‘you simply must have the experience of international education.’”

Watch the recording here.

 

4. Join the Campaign: Share Your HBCU Stories with Fulbright

Keep the celebration going by sharing your memories and experiences from HBCUs:

Every Fulbrighter has a story to share, and we want to hear yours! To continue our celebration of the valued relationship between the Fulbright Program and HBCU institutions throughout the country, we’re asking our HBCU Fulbright alumni to share their photos and stories with us. Follow the link to upload images or videos accompanied by the experience you’d like to share with us. https://fulbrightonline.org/photouploads

 

5.  I Am Fulbright

Yes, you too are Fulbright! The Fulbright Program is committed to making international education accessible and available to HBCUs, MSIs, and everywhere in between. Learn more about Fulbright application requirements and deadlines for the Fulbright U.S. Student, U.S. and Visiting Scholar, and Foreign Student Programs, and how to connect with the Fulbright Program’s 75th anniversary.

U.S. Fulbright

Navigating Your Identity Abroad

April 23, 2021

What does it mean to be an American abroad? Five Fulbright 75th Anniversary Legacy Alumni Ambassadors reflect and analyze how their personal identities affected their Fulbright experience.

Strengthening My American Identity

David N. Bernstein, MD, MBA, MEI
2013 Fulbright U.S. Student to Luxembourg

David N. Bernstein (right) is a Clinical Fellow in Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. While on his Fulbright in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, David earned a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation from the University of Luxembourg. As part of his degree program, David interned at Silicon Luxembourg, a rapidly growing media and event planning startup designed to highlight the blossoming entrepreneurial spirit within the country.

“Everyone, the American is here!”

I had only been in Luxembourg for a few weeks in fall 2013, but I had already become a regular at Pitcher, a favorite local bar throughout the Grand Duchy. With a pint of Bofferding in hand, I would discuss my experience living in Europe, as well as what it was like to live in the United States, with a few of my closest Luxembourgish friends.

From business to education, and everything in between, my friends and I covered a lot of ground in our conversations. However, I began to realize an error in my approach. As a Fulbrighter, I had committed to representing the United States as a cultural ambassador. Thus, while my opinion was important, I had an obligation to share differing positions and viewpoints held by other Americans to share a complete picture of the United States.

As I reflect on my time in Luxembourg nearly a decade later, I realize that sharing and discussing varying perspectives on life and policy in the United States strengthened my identity as an American. Indeed, the power of the United States is in its rich diversity of people and ideas, as well as its endless opportunities. This idea was solidified sitting on a barstool with a beer in hand, surrounded by my Luxembourgish friends. While I consider myself a citizen of the world, I am forever proud to be an American.

 

Expanding the American Identity

Kristine Lin
2013 Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant to South Korea

On her Fulbright, Kristine Lin (left) taught English to elementary students at Jeungan Elementary School in Cheongju, South Korea. During winter break, she used a Fulbright Korea Alumni Foundation Community Grant to support and lead an English camp, which focused on improving student understanding of American culture and traditions through hands-on activities.

Before my Fulbright, I was excited to immerse myself in Korean culture and experience as much as possible. I did not anticipate, however, having to explain my own identity while living abroad. Growing up in the United States, I was used to identifying myself as Chinese; when I arrived in South Korea, that changed.

Living outside of major cities with large foreign communities, I found myself explaining my American identity in response to quizzical looks from local Koreans. I was sometimes the first American they encountered, and I didn’t look like the blonde hair, blue-eyed person they expected.

Using my limited Korean language skills, I explained I was Chinese American, as my parents were born in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and I was born and raised in the United States. I soon took pride in being different than the “typical” American that many expected to see and turned it into a learning opportunity.

It became my mission to teach my elementary school students about the racial and cultural diversity in the United States, and I even recruited another Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to co-teach a winter camp on American culture. Using my racial identity to help teach students was never something that had occurred to me before. However, I found it to be not only an eye-opening experience for my students, but also an empowering experience for myself.

 

Davíd with El Chimboraso in the background, the largest volcano in Ecuador and the closest point to the moon on Earth.

Davíd en route to Quilotoa, a water-filled crater lake and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Davíd posing next to his año viejo, an effigy made in his image as a loving joke by his friends, that was burned in the traditional Guayaquil New Year Festivals of 2014.

“Hey, We Are Here, Too”

Davíd Morales
2013 Fulbright U.S. Student ETA to Ecuador

Davíd Morales is a scholar, educator, and community activist interested in education as a tool for social change. He is currently a doctoral student and researcher in the Race, Inequality, and Language in Education program at Stanford University. He has taught language, culture, and critical thinking in public schools in San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, and in Ecuador as a Fulbright U.S. Student ETA.

The first time I was called a fake American, a half-gringo, I laughed. It was a joke. It was fine. Actually, it was better than fine because I never really considered myself an American anyways, let alone a gringo.

We could get into the complexity of what they, I, we, the world, mean by “American” (as I write to you from one of the two continents baptized “America”s by European colonizers), but it is enough to mention that there is no doubt that the United States has monopolized this identifier.

As for gringo–let’s just say that when I was growing up in the Latinx community of Barrio Logan in San Diego, California, gringos were the white people who lived by the beach with the double garages and the 9-speed road bikes. So, you can imagine my laugh, my “if only they knew” smirk, when my students in Guayaquil—where I was doing my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship—would call me a “fake American,” a “half gringo.”

I was born in the United States to migrant parents from Mexico in search of the elusive “American Dream.” I have navigated this country as a brown boy and a brown man; my Indigenous ancestors account for the pigmentation of my skin that I was ashamed of, along with my language, and culture. I wanted to be white, with everything that being white entails.

After I finally got to learn about my people’s history and culture in high school—the struggles they faced and movements they led, their brilliance and resiliency—I became empowered and sought to reclaim and embrace my identity– a counter-identity to the essentializing “American” identifier.

But after a couple of months, a couple more jokes, and a couple more skeptical comments about whether I could teach English because I am not really an American, it suddenly dawned on me. It happened when I was asked to teach a lesson on Thanksgiving. It’s not just about turkey, mashed potatoes, and laughter around the dinner table every fourth Thursday of November. It is also about broken treaties, pain, remembering, and mourning of one’s ancestors and land. It is not just about a standardized and monolingual version of English, it is also about a fluid, dynamic, and ever-evolving way of using English, inspired by many other languages and ways of understanding the world.

It dawned on me I am, and have been part of, this American experience. So have my parents, so have my friends, so has my community, and so have many others who do not fit the typical American image that is exported throughout the world.

It became important for me to stand in front of my classes and proclaim: “Hey, we are here, too,” and these have been our erased experiences. It became important for me to remain a bit longer with Fulbright—now as an Alumni Ambassador—and to encourage others like me to do the same.

 

Addressing Immigration Through Personal Experience

Cristobal “Cris” Ramón
2008 Fulbright U.S. Student to Spain

Cris Ramón (back right) is a senior policy analyst with Bipartisan Center’s Immigration Project. On his Fulbright, Cris Ramón studied the legal rights of immigrants, specifically analyzing the legal impact of seven sentences issued by the Spanish Constitutional Court against the Ley Orgánica 8/2000, a reform of Spain’s main immigration law.

As the son of Salvadoran immigrants and student of Spanish immigration policy, I saw that Spain, and many European countries, struggled with welcoming and integrating immigrants, and that immigrants in Spain and Europe also dealt with xenophobia and racism.

While on my Fulbright in Spain, my family’s experience in the United States allowed me to speak to different audiences about the benefits of immigration and effective immigration policy. I helped people in Spain understand the complexities of the immigrant experience and the importance of societal integration through welcoming communities. I also spoke with policymakers about the importance of humane migration, using my mom’s story of receiving legal status through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act to note that pragmatic, humane policies can produce better outcomes.

Although I will never know if my conversations changed any minds or policy outcomes, it allowed me to move forward with my career as an immigration policy analyst who produces better policies for addressing the challenges and opportunities that immigration presents to the United States and Europe.

 

Strengthening My Identity in A Foreign Context

Vince Redhouse
2015 Fulbright U.S. Student to Australia

Vince Redhouse (left, with the U.S. Ambassador to Australia), the 2015 Anne Wexler Fulbright Scholarship in Public Policy recipient, studied at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where he completed an MPhil in Philosophy under the supervision of Robert E. Goodin. Vince’s thesis focused on the topic of political reconciliation between settler states and their indigenous citizens.

I am a member of the Navajo Nation. Throughout my Fulbright in Australia, I was challenged again and again as to what that meant and why that should matter.

Most of the time, these challenges made sense. My Fulbright research concluded that Indigenous peoples ought to be able to secede and that their respective colonial states should support their choice.

Sometimes, though, the challenges were less academic. Those challenges often came in the form of slurs and insults hurled on the streets or while riding public transport, or from people who simply felt like they deserved an explanation to satisfy their curiosity.

I ignored those particular challenges. Explaining one’s ethnicity and background is not a position that minority peoples like to be placed in. Sometimes, though, it’s good to place ourselves in that position so that we can truly educate others. In doing so, we might just discover new things about ourselves.

Throughout my Fulbright, I subjected my identity to the rigors of foreign worlds and foreign ideas, and, in the end, my identity is stronger for it.

Foreign Fulbright U.S. Fulbright

Fulbright Impact in the Field: Global Health & COVID-19 Reunion Panel – Lessons Learned and Key Takeaways

February 8, 2021

“We know that infections: they don’t have borders, they don’t have governments. They don’t care about presidents, they don’t care about our political system. We have to do this together.”
-Igor Stoma, MD, PhD; 2017 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Belarus to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Overview

Since the emergence of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Fulbright participants and alumni have been working tirelessly to uplift, innovate, and find solutions to challenges facing our communities and world.

The Fulbright Impact in the Field panel series, which is open to the public, provides a digital space for Fulbright alumni experts to share their insights, expertise, and Fulbright’s impact on local and global communities. The Fulbright 75th Anniversary Special “Fulbright Impact in the Field” Reunion Panel on Global Heath & COVID-19 on January 29, 2021 reunited our original panelists from the May 2020 event for a follow-up discussion.

 

Meet the Panelists

Participating Fulbright alumni, who are physicians and scientists, shared updates about their experiences combatting the pandemic over the past year. They discussed changes in coronavirus treatment, lessons learned about the virus, the current state of vaccine production and distribution, and more.

Moderator

Imre Varju, MD, PhD, MPH, CHES (2016 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Hungary to Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) – Dr. Varju is a medical scientist and health communications specialist who is interested in sharing how to accurately communicate risk and public health developments.

Panelists

Serena Dasani, MD, MBA (2013 Fulbright ETA to Indonesia) – Dr. Dasani is an anesthesia resident physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and has conducted research quantifying the financial impact that COVID-19 had on U.S. hospitals.
Javier Jaimes, DVM, MS, MBA, PhD (2014 Foreign Fulbright Student from Colombia to Cornell University) – Dr. Jaimes is a virologist working in research and education. He is currently studying the pathogenesis of the SARS-Co V-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 emergency.
Igor Stoma, MD, PhD (2017 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Belarus to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) – Dr. Stoma is Chancellor and Professor of Infectious Diseases at Gomel State Medical University in Belarus who consults on the treatment of the most complex cases of COVID-19.
Charlotte Summers, PhD, MRCP, FFICM (2013 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from the United Kingdom to University of California, San Francisco) – Dr. Summers is an academic critical care physician at Cambridge with a passion for translating basic science into therapies for critically ill patients.
Benjamin tenOever, PhD (2014 U.S. Scholar to Institut Pasteur and Ecole Normale Superieure in France) – Dr. tenOever is Director of the Virus Engineering Center for Therapeutics and Research (VECToR) at Mount Sinai and is involved in an international consortium to develop vaccines and antivirals against Novel Coronavirus (SARS-Co V-2).

 

Key Takeaways

During the discussion, panelists reaffirmed the importance of:

  1.  Public health planning and management for faster response to emergencies, including pandemics
  2.  Accurate and timely health communication to combat misinformation
  3.  Solving complex problems via international collaboration and engagement

 

After an unprecedented period of research, vaccine testing, and new solutions to public health challenges, the panelists look forward to increased focus on:

  1.  Encouraging empathy among the general population
  2.  Promoting basic scientific literacy
  3.  Improving healthcare equity and access around the world

 

To watch the panelists dive into these relevant discussions, click here.

To learn about upcoming Fulbright Impact in the Field panels and other Fulbright 75th anniversary events, sign up for the newsletter.

FLTA Foreign Fulbright Fulbright-National Geographic Reach the World U.S. Fulbright

2020 Fulbright Year in Review

December 21, 2020
From the COVID-19 pandemic, to a watershed movement in racial and social justice, 2020 has brought more change than many could have imagined.
As we look forward to a new year, the Fulbright Program is proud to share some of the ways Fulbrighters demonstrated leadership and innovation in the United States and around the world in our 2020 Fulbright Year in Review.