The 2016 Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Seattle, Washington, March 17-20, drew together an impressive cohort of 132 Fulbrighters from over 65 countries around the world to explore “Democracy in Action,” engage with leading political commentators (and the occasional rock star), and take in awe-inspiring natural landscapes draped by the city’s iconic backdrop: Mount Rainier.
Even before the seminar’s kickoff opening dinner, students had the opportunity to take in beautiful views of downtown while attending a sea otter feeding and reception at the Seattle Aquarium.
Delivering a riveting keynote address was the incomparable Krist Novoselic, bassist and co-founder of the rock band Nirvana and one of rock’s most politically-minded musicians. Through the Joints Artists and Musicians Political Action Committee (JAMPAC), Novoselic has taken a prominent leadership role in uniting music and politics; currently he serves as chair of FairVote, a Seattle non-profit election reform organization. His speech conveyed a deep passion and dedication to politics which resonated through the Fulbright attendees.
The seminar’s “Polarization in U.S. Politics” panel offered a rich view of commentary from political strategists and state and federal government officials, including Rob McKenna who served as Washington States Attorney General from 2005-2013, and Ron Sims, former political appointee Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Away from panels and onto the streets of city, Fulbrighters roamed the subterranean passages that were once the main roadways and first-floor storefront of the old downtown Seattle. Guides recounted the original stories of pioneers settling the Pacific Northwest as students made their way through a restored 1890s saloon, Pioneer Square, and Rouges Gallery.
Off shore, Fulbrighters enjoyed a sun-filled afternoon visiting the Center for Wooden Boats and actually paddled a boat together!
As always, students took pride in giving back to their community in a variety of activities across Seattle. At the Nature Consortium Fulbrighters cleared nearly 3,600 sq. ft. of blackberry bushes in order to make space for native species which will be planted this fall. Students who visited Bread of Life Mission learned about homelessness in Seattle before making and distributing over 100 care kits throughout the community.
The U.S. Election Simulation Workshop saw Xiang Li claim victory in the general primary by winning Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Also running a strong campaign and placing in second was Louisa Romer.
Closing dinner offered an opportunity to kickback, relax, and participate in a group talent show. From spoken-word poetry, to singing and dancing, this cohort of Fulbrighters was extremely talented!
We enjoyed seeing you in Seattle!