There are many aspects of what it means to be a Fulbrighter. For instance, it changes not only how people identify you, but how you see yourself and the world. The amount of exposure to different cultures and experience that Fulbright provides is immense. The feeling of being a 2012-2013 Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow from India started sinking in the day I attended the pre-departure orientation. Being chosen as a representative of my country was huge. I knew that what I that my experience researching community radio and participatory communication in the United States would be different from my previous experiences in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and I was very much looking forward to it.
When I attended the Gateway Orientation at Virginia Commonwealth University, the feeling of ‘going global’ overcame me, and I realized just how huge a responsibility being a Fulbrighter is. During the orientation, I learned much about the American Civil War and also from my fellow Fulbrighters from all over the world.
When I arrived at New York University’s (NYU’s) Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, I knew that as a Development Communication and Extension Specialist from India, NYU was going to be a great place to analyze global development, not just by studying what is happening within the field in the United States, but also by meeting with representatives from different countries. My Fulbright research focuses on community radio stations as models of participatory communication, and I intend to use my findings on American community radio stations’ financial and volunteer management when I return to India. Understanding the similarities and differences between Indian and American models will be particularly helpful in developing an in-depth analysis of global community radio stations’ best practices.
Living in New York City, with its hustle and bustle, noisy subways, and crowds, has helped me to gain a better awareness of what a worldly city is like. My first amazing New York Fulbright experience was when I attended a session on polio eradication during the United Nations General Assembly 2012. Meeting world leaders and being introduced as a Fulbrighter further underscored how huge the opportunity is for those lucky enough to receive a grant.
Another enriching Fulbright experience I had involved conducting research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Campus Radio. There, I met many student radio enthusiasts in different fields and community radio broadcasters who had been volunteering for decades. This experienced helped me to understand how deeply rooted volunteerism is in the United States and that most American Community Media Systems have been able to develop due to ongoing support from volunteers.
I have loved each and every day of my stay and research in United States. For the traveler, communicator, listener and scholar in me, this has been the best experience of my life!