Enrichment Foreign Fulbright Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project

Meeting Makaila

July 9, 2015
Fulbright-MTP Participant Mohammad Behroozian, from Afghanistan (right), engages in conversation with American MTP Participant Maceo Keeling from LA on board Millennial Trains Project (MTP) 2015 journey.

Fulbright-MTP Participant Mohammad Behroozian, from Afghanistan (right), engages in conversation with American MTP Participant Maceo Keeling from LA on board the 2015 Millennial Trains Project (MTP) journey

Mohammad Behroozian, a Fulbright Student from Afghanistan, was selected as the Grand Prize winner of the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) New Leaders Group award in recognition of his Fulbright-MTP documentary film project, “Heading South,” for its transformative impact on advancing and exploring cultural diversity between the United States and Afghanistan.

Below, Mohammad reflects on one interview to be included in his documentary.

My most recent Fulbright sponsored adventure involved traveling over 3,000 miles through the Southern United States.

While on the Fulbright-MTP journey, I traveled from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, making stops in San Antonio, Austin, New Orleans, Baltimore and Washington. I interviewed imams and videotaped Islamic centers to learn how they interact with their surrounding American communities. When I departed from my cold host city Boston, I knew the South was going to be warm, and I was prepared for it. What surprised me upon arrival in the South was the level of diversity and intercultural receptiveness I witnessed.

The media paints a particular picture of the American South, complete with failed politics, gun violence and extreme conservatism. During my visit, I learned that there is much more to the South and its people than what is presented by the media—but I should have known better. After all, I am from Afghanistan, the country that media often radically associates with Taliban, conflict and terrorism while overlooking the green valleys of Badakhshan, the 40-plus delicious varieties of Herati grapes, and the warmth and hospitality of my people.

In the South, I learned that the vast majority of people, regardless of their faiths, respect each other and often enjoy the diversity of their communities.

Makaila

Makaila, who Mohammad interviewed outside of the Capitol building in Austin, Texas

After interviewing an Afghan Fulbrighter and experiencing two mosques in California and San Antonio, I decided to interview the general public in Austin. Makaila was one of ten random individuals I found outside of the Capitol building in Austin, Texas. As I interviewed Makaila, a woman from Austin who identified as an atheist, I listened to her talk about her regular interactions with Muslims. I admired her openness to others’ belief systems.

Makaila shared no beliefs with Islam or any other religion that I know of and I’m sure that she probably questioned the fundamentals of the world’s great religions as well as the idea of religion itself. Nevertheless, she was able to associate with people of faith and enjoy the diversity of perspectives that they bring.

That Makaila could connect with others without sharing their belief systems was one of the most fascinating things I came across during my train journey. Meeting her helped me to realize it is a great model to look for common ground that we can all stand on and coexist, but it is even higher ethics for humans to recognize and respect each other’s differences while respecting their individual faiths.

Traveling on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project was as much an inner journey as an outward journey. As a Fulbright Student, I embarked on bridging the cultural gap between the people of Afghanistan and the people of the United States. Along this journey, I managed to meet numerous people, most of them American. In those interactions, I told them about Afghanistan while also enjoying hearing their points of view that were either new and/or beneficial to me.

You Might Also Like

7 Comments

  • Reply Anup Adhikari July 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I have done bachelor’s in food technology and completed my masters in Business Administration, I now like to do PhD what are your suggestions for me?

    • Reply Schuyler July 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Anup, the first step in identifying the correct Fulbright Program to apply to is to visit the following link: http://eca.state.gov/fulbright

      Please note that you’ll need to apply through the country in which you hold citizenship. Good luck!

  • Reply Hamidsalangi August 13, 2015 at 2:25 am

    this is good opportuinty

  • Reply parwaiz karokhail August 13, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Dear SIR/Madan
    My Name is Parwaiz and My father Name is Mohammad Hassan and My Nick Name is Karokhail, so I am really Appreciated from your hard working in the world, myself with your respectful website it is big proud for me right now.
    I would like to apply to your this program for coming exam for two months program’s training in American United State (UNA)
    I am currently studying English literature in Afghanistan in Nangarhar University and I would like to study more and learn more in my mentioned language(language)
    worth mentioned that this year I will get graduated from my University.
    sincerely……………
    Parwaiz

    • Reply Schuyler August 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Parwaiz,

      To learn more about applying to the Fulbright Program as an Afghan citizen, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. For more information, please click on the following link: http://kabul.usembassy.gov/fulbright.html

      Good luck!

  • Reply farmanullah August 15, 2015 at 4:40 am

    dear sir i am teacher in kunar teacher training college and teaches English subjects and graduated from AUAF in 2015 from MA degree. i want to join with you but how can. i get PHD and other program

    • Reply Schuyler August 24, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Farmanullah,

      To learn more about applying for a Fulbright grant, please visit http://www.eca.state.gov/fulbright. Please note that you will need to apply through the program office in your home country. Good luck!

    Leave a Reply