The 2016 Denver Fulbright Enrichment Seminar held in Denver, Colorado brought students in direct conversation with U.S. electoral processes, traditions, and the practice of civic duty through volunteerism from February 18-21, 2016.
Over four exciting days the 129 foreign Fulbrighters gathered in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to discuss U.S. political values, participate in a wide range of volunteer activities, including working at food shelters and schools, and put “Democracy in Action” through a U.S. election simulation workshop.
• The seminar’s opening dinner took place on Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Colorado History Museum where Fulbrighters had the opportunity to visit a wide range of cultural exhibits and learn more about the state of Colorado. During the opening dinner, Fulbrighters were welcomed by J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Member, Joseph Falk, and learned about the nuances of U.S. elections and swing states from the evening’s keynote speaker, John Frank, an award-winning political reporter from the Denver Post.
• On Friday, Feb. 19 Fulbrighters attended a panel discussion on polarization in American politics, including its origins from the two-party system. Panelists included local politicians and academics from the University of Colorado at Denver and at Boulder.
• Students then enjoyed a sunny afternoon at Red Rocks Amphitheatre where they were able to enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty and learn about local history in the foothills near Denver.
• On Friday evening, Fulbrighters attended dinner with over 40 families in the Denver area to learn more about the area, while also sharing their cultures with their hosts.
• Saturday morning, Feb. 20, groups of between 25-30 Fulbrighters visited and worked at different community service sites in Denver, including cleaning at a local dog shelter, playing bingo with the elderly at an affordable housing complex, organizing a new Montessori school, decorating bags for delivering food to the sick, and organizing food boxes for families at the food bank.
• The students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to people who work and live in the local community, while equally giving back.
• On Saturday afternoon, Fulbrighters then split up into swing state groups, learned about the Electoral College system, and elected a president and vice president: Ashton Vicky Dingle from South Africa and Hafi Barry from Guinea.
We certainly enjoyed seeing everyone who participated in the Denver Fulbright Enrichment Seminar!