The U.S. Department of State selected the following six Fulbright Foreign Students to participate in the third Millennial Trains Project (MTP) voyage across the United States — leaving from Los Angeles, California on May 21 and ending in Washington, DC on May 31— as an enrichment component of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program. The Fulbrighters will join 19 American riders on the MTP journey to gain an in-depth understanding of life in the United States and to strengthen their skills in leadership, social entrepreneurship, and communication.
Meet the six Fulbright participants:
Saja Al Quzweeni is a Fulbright Foreign Student from Baghdad, Iraq, currently pursuing a master’s in environmental science and policy at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Saja’s MTP project is an extension of research she completed last year at Growing Power, a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that works in urban agriculture as an approach to increase food security in lower income and food desert communities. Small plots of land are used for intensive growing to offer healthy, affordable food to inner city communities, while merging agriculture and wise environmental practices to revitalize urban areas.
Saja plans to use MTP’s multi-city journey to examine the best practices of similar nonprofits working in urban agricultural and explore, in particular, the difference between urban agricultural practices across the Northern and Southern United States. The intention behind her is study is to develop a comprehensive model of urban farming that could be utilized in different settings, and will be considered unique within the field of agriculture due to its multi-city approach.
Magdalena Leszko is a Fulbright Foreign Student from Poland and a post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University conducting research on caregiver burden and dementia prevention. Due to the aging Baby Boomer Generation, it is projected that by 2030 the number of individuals aged 65 and older will reach 72.1 million, and it will constitute 19% of the U.S. population. Because of this demographic shift towards an elderly population, there is an increased likelihood that dementia will affect more individuals. Magdalena feels there is a strong need to actively encourage young adults to work on solving problems that people with dementia face.
Magdalena’s MTP project, “Designing Friendly Communities for Individuals with Dementia,” aims to educate individuals about dementia so they can serve as leaders in their communities and work with their communities to create healthier places for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Her project works with local communities to assess the challenges dementia patients face in their daily lives. She intends to contribute to a better understanding of the obstacles they face by developing a white paper that outlines possible ways of improving circumstances for dementia patients.
Nhlalala Mavundza is a Fulbright Foreign Student from South Africa currently pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience with a focus on the neuroscience of obesity at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
Nhlalala also holds a B.S. in physiological sciences from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Her current research is in the neuroscience of obesity and NEAT lab, and focuses on the environmental modulation of skeletal muscle thermogenesis and energy expenditure.
More than half of the states with a high obesity rate in the United States are located in the South, a fact that has inspired Nhlalala’s MTP research project examining the measures that different Southern cities have taken to combat the rise in obesity. Poverty and obesity being highly correlated, Nhlalala’s research will specifically focus on the availability of obesity prevention and treatment resources, such as school cafeteria lunch plans, exercise programs, and affordable bike rentals, in each city to low-income families.
Rodrigo Moran is a Fulbright Foreign Student from El Salvador currently completing a master’s in international sustainable development at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Rodrigo, a 2013 recipient of a grant through the U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, utilized the funding to create the Sivar Productions Project, a vocational training center for under served youth in the City of San Salvador focusing on multimedia video, digital image editing and digital drawing skills for violence prevention. He also served as the first executive director of the Municipal Youth Institute of the City of San Salvador, the first municipal authority dedicated exclusively to youth development in El Salvador.
Rodrigo’s MTP research project will focus on storytelling as a qualitative monitoring and evaluation method for youth development projects. The research will primarily cover innovative storytelling techniques and more specifically, digital storytelling. Using accessible, everyday tools, Rodrigo will collect stories and create a micro-documentary from his experience engaging with local storytellers and youth development organizations in MTP destinations across the American South.
Pichleap Sok is a Fulbright Foreign Student from Cambodia currently studying at Loyola University Chicago. Pichleap’s MTP project focuses on promoting the faces of women in tech to help inspire young girls to enter into the field. Faces of Women in Tech will also be a website highlighting the achievements of as many women in tech as possible.
During the MTP journey, Pichleap will meet with local women in technology to interview them about the difficulties they may have faced before reaching their current positions, and how they overcame obstacles. The content of each interview will be posted on the Faces of Women in Tech website along with each participant’s portrait, which will be taken during the interview. Faces of Women in Tech is intended to become a safe space where all women can come together to build a strong online community offering advice, inspiration, and motivation with the hope of attracting more women to the traditionally male-dominated tech field.
Stay tuned to the Fulbright-MTP blog for more entries! Follow the journey @FulbrightPrgrm and @MillennialTrain!