As our Fulbright-MTP participants make their way to Portland for tomorrow’s launch of the MTP 2014 journey, they reflect on their Fulbright experience thus far, what they believe are the most pressing issues facing global Millennials today and how their Fulbright-MTP project is a vehicle for enhancing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
In the words of Katie Nikolaeva, a Fulbright Foreign Student from Russia:
Inequalities in the standard of living around the world makes people look for better places to live, thus creating immigration issues, which become more and more acute, especially for the developed countries. While governments are struggling to solve immigration problems, the cultural and religious differences contribute to the outburst of ethnic conflicts. These conflicts constitute a big challenge for the modern society, while people slowly learn not to resist, but tolerate ‘foreign’ cultures.
I study international economics at Brandeis International Business School, where students from over 50 different countries represent nearly all of the world’s major cultures and languages. Brandeis is my first experience in communicating with so many international people at the same time.
The most striking thing is that even though all these students have various opinions and thus contribute to the development of social diversity and open-mindedness, all of them (representing their own countries) also have similar problems: ethnic conflicts, economic growth issues, international trade barriers, poverty (which is an issue in any country in the world, no matter how developed the country), religious conflicts, political instability, environmental problems, and so on and so forth.
One of the most pivotal moments of my Fulbright experience at Brandeis was when I saw a Russian girl dancing the Afghan national dance with her classmates from Afghanistan at the Global Gala (the annual concert we have at school), and nobody raised a question on the harsh relationships between these two countries, because you will always be tolerant to your friends, no matter which country, culture or religion they represent.
After my first year as a Fulbright scholar at an American university, I can say that in today’s world with plenty of wars and conflicts, people from different countries and cultures SHOULD get together in order to discuss the current problems and listen to each other’s opinions. Thus, the society would benefit from the resulting range of viewpoints and experiences.
The Millennial Trains Project brings together people with different backgrounds, interests and research goals. However, close communication among the participants during the journey will inevitably influence project outcomes, as well as the participants’ world outlook, hopefully for the better.
During the MTP journey we will encounter a collage of ranches, farms, port towns, declining industrial cities, reborn urban centers, farmers, businessmen, fishermen, numerous landmarks of the nation’s history and just ordinary people living in America. In terms of my on-train research project, I will be exploring small businesses and social innovation across industrial cities in northern American states. I look forward to exploring examples of such innovations in the big cities and industrial centers of Seattle, Portland and Chicago. For instance, Seattle is known for its innovative startups, especially social ones, from weird toys shops to handbag rental service.
In the early decades of the 20th century the largest cities in the United States benefited from industrial growth bolstering their economy; however since the1980s America’s largest industrial centers have been badly hit by the economic decline.
Nevertheless, every recession has silver linings: the small business started growing rapidly, as the unemployment rate rose, proving that the most innovative ideas are born during the worst times. The examples of small businesses in industrial centers abound!
While I explore those cities and their small businesses, I would like to collect the best innovative ideas and share them through my blogspot and video blog on YouTube, thus contributing to the development of small business through talking about breakthrough ideas and creative approach to startups. Another goal would be to showcase that small business improves economic environment and enhances the quality of life.