Growing up in Indonesia, I had big dreams of attending a U.S. university, but I never knew if they would come true. Receiving a Fulbright Foreign Student Program grant set me on the path to fulfill these lifelong dreams and has allowed me to pursue a Master’s of Public Administration at the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky. I have enjoyed every single moment of my classes. The quality of my professors and the diversity of students, in terms of their disciplines and international backgrounds, have all enriched my U.S. experiences.
Through Fulbright, I received an additional scholarship through which I have conducted several research projects and presented at two conferences. First, I presented my comparative study on the impact of defense expenditures on economic growth in Indonesia and Turkey at the 2015 Indonesia Focus Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Second, I presented my Indonesian agroforestry project at the 2015 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment in Lexington, Kentucky.
In early 2015, I was selected as the only international student that year to join the Martin School team for the Policy Solutions Challenge USA. After receiving a first place award for the Southern Region, we attended the national competition in Washington, DC, where we came in second. I am so proud to have been involved with this wonderful team!
Last March, I was selected as a representative of the University of Kentucky to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) 2015. I was chosen because of my contributions as the founder of an agroforestry project in 2009 which was part of a poverty alleviation initiative in Garut, Indonesia. This year, I will attend the CGIU 2016 once again, only this time as an additional support member for the continuing progress of this project.
All of these experiences and achievements have expanded my previous dream of pursuing an education in the United States and created numerous academic and professional opportunities. They’ve allowed me to contribute not only to my capacity development, but also to academe in general through conferences and academic papers. In addition, these experiences and achievements have allowed me to make hundreds of new connections through which I’ve been able to present on my country’s cultures.
Beyond my academic and professional Fulbright experiences in the United States, I have been volunteering at the Monterey Boys & Girls Club, giving cultural presentations and helping with United Way‘s “Stuff the Bus” event to provide school supplies to children from low income households. At the University of Kentucky, I have volunteered for many international cultural events on campus and engaged with the Lexington Islamic Center, especially with their monthly visit program to other Islamic centers and communities in Kentucky. This program has allowed me to learn from and share knowledge with other Muslim youth and professionals in many fields from around the world. Lastly, I have connected with my host community through the University of Kentucky’s Indonesian Student Association. Through them, I have participated in several cultural events throughout the state of Kentucky.
To me, Fulbright stands for: Facing challenges, being unique, and honoring a legacy; believing in peace, being a representative of your country, influential, and globally-minded; last but not least, it’s about honoring the program’s history and traditions.
To successfully become a “Fulbrighter,” you have to challenge your weaknesses and be unique with your achievements’ legacies that will live on past your grant tenure in your host country. You must believe in your capacity to represent your country, which will influence others to reveal their own potential. As a Fulbrighter, you will become part of a global citizenry and you must maintain this honor. Lastly, make every positive thing you experience during your grant become part of your own traditions: We can all do our part to fulfill Senator J. William Fulbright’s goal of living in peace and friendship!