Enrichment Foreign Fulbright Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project

Exploring America with Americans

August 24, 2016

Richa Narula, 2015-2016, Nepal (center), with her fellow “Unity” Millennial Train Project Fulbright participants Christian Mpody, 2015-2017, Togo(left), and Laura Jimenez Morales, 2015-2017, Mexico (right)

Upon receiving an email about applying to this year’s Millennial Train Project (MTP), I knew that it could potentially be an opportunity of a lifetime. Exploring the United States with Americans while on a train seemed like an amazing idea, and I was so fascinated about the concept. But it took me quite a long time to finalize what project I actually wanted to do during the ten day journey. The idea for my current MTP project came from a recent conference (which I was able to attend, thanks to Fulbright ) I attended and presented on organizational preferences towards particular natural resources versus others. I had observed this kind of bias back in my home country, Nepal, but dismissed after coming to the United States. I thought that the biases would just be understood as another “developing country” issue. But that was not the case. I felt challenged after this conference to research the causes of such preferences and their effects on sustainability. I was looking for an appropriate opportunity for pursuing this research, but even when the application for the MTP was announced, the idea did not strike me immediately. I took some time to think and decided that this was the appropriate opportunity to pursue this research, and the project “Perception Differences and Effects in Sustainability” was thus initiated.

The MTP journey has been the perfect way to enhance my one year in the States. Because of MTP, I have explored many places that I never would have seen.

Throughout this year, I have generally been surrounded by other fellow Fulbright friends, and it was my keen desire to see how Americans perceive different national and international issues that we talk about amongst ourselves. During this trip, I am surrounded by amazing Americans from all walks of life with their own fascinating stories of hard work, success and failure. Listening to them passionately talk about the positive changes that they want to make in the world through their projects — words are not enough to explain that experience. It feels good to know that there are many Millennials who are trying to make the world a better place, in all the ways they can. I already know, within only five days of my trip, that I have made friends for life!

Nevertheless, being on a train most of the time is not an easy thing. It gets bumpy at times, water gets scarce and the Internet signal is intermittent, yet I am having an extremely good time. I am enjoying all of the wonderful mentor sessions in our work station, our own private vintage dome car (we are being served the best food), and despite the intense schedules, we have time to share our personal stories with one another and enjoy the amazing view of the passing States.

When we are in the destination cities, I run from one organization to another to conduct interviews for my project and try to analyze my findings. Every day during our ‘Pioneer Journey’ group meetings, I share my experiences and learn about others. We all are making subtle but significant changes to our projects based on our experiences and ideas from group members.

During these past few days, I have learned to appreciate things more than before, and more than that, my self-confidence has increased substantially. Though one can never be completely sure of what lies ahead, I know at least what I want to do in the future. And right now, leaning against the couch in my work station, trying to manage with the poor Internet signal, I just cannot stop smiling and thinking how beautiful life is!

Looking forward to rest of the days of my trip to enrich what I already know, and to break a few more ceilings of my own perceptions.

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