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U.S. Fulbright

Connecting Indigenous Communities: Native American Heritage Month Q&A

November 18, 2020

This Native American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting the contributions of outstanding Fulbrighters who live the Fulbright mission through the ways in which they express their identities and their goals. In this Q&A, Fulbright Student Alumni Ambassador Vince Redhouse shares his experiences in Australia, where he learned about the relationship between Indigenous communities and the law.

Vince Redhouse, 2015 Fulbright U.S. Student in Philosophy to Australia

Vince Redhouse, the 2015 Anne Wexler Fulbright Scholarship in Public Policy recipient, studied at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where he completed an MPhil in Philosophy under the supervision of Robert E. Goodin. Vince’s thesis focused on the topic of political reconciliation between settler states and their indigenous citizens. In addition to his master’s program, Vince tutored for a course on Indigenous Culture through ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Canberra’s Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, gave a TEDx presentation, and through support from both the ANU and the Lois Roth Endowment, visited Utopia, an indigenous community in the Northern Territory, where he was able to learn firsthand some of the issues Indigenous Australians face.

 

1. Tell us a little about your path to Fulbright. Who or what inspired you to apply?

Vince: My path was different than most. I am a first-generation college student and prior to my junior year of college, I had never heard of Fulbright! I was fortunate that one of my advisers recommended the program to me. There were two things that inspired me to apply: 1. An interest in the relationship between foreign Indigenous people and their settler colonial government; and 2. The opportunity to see if academia was right for me.

 

2. Tell us a little about your Fulbright research topic and project. What did a typical day as a Fulbrighter look like for you?

Vince: My Fulbright was for a two-year research degree: a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Philosophy at the Australian National University. My initial proposal was to examine and apply contemporary deliberative practices to see whether they could be used to dispel the false beliefs that societies hold about Indigenous peoples. What my proposal ended up being, however, was a normative evaluation of how political reconciliation could occur between Indigenous peoples and their settler colonial states. Ultimately, I argued that for political reconciliation to end legitimating settler colonial states, Indigenous citizens must be able to exit the process and reclaim their lands, should reconciliation fail or prove undesirable.

My research process was fairly routine: I commuted to my office(s) and did research at my computer most of the day. My university has an incredible tradition of taking tea twice a day, and I took advantage of that. It was a great opportunity for me to get feedback from professors and other students of all philosophical backgrounds in a friendly and casual environment. I also gave several research presentations, including a talk at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and a TEDx talk, and was a pro bono tutor (i.e. graduate assistant) for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture course taught by ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. I was also a visiting research fellow at the University of Canberra Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. From time to time, I was also able to meet and discuss issues with indigenous leaders and activists throughout the country—even spending a couple weeks in a remote indigenous reserve—as well as with members of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Affairs team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caption: Vince at TEDxFulbrightCanberra, and with former U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry.

 

3. How did your identity play a role in your Fulbright experience?

Vince: My identity as a Navajo was absolutely crucial to my Fulbright experience. A lot of the experiences I described above were available to me solely because I was an Indigenous person from the United States. The Indigenous peoples of Australia were just as eager to learn from me as I was from them! For example, I was invited to tutor a course in Aboriginal history and culture in order to share my experiences as an Indigenous person from the United States. Similarly, I was invited to spend time on a remote Aboriginal reserve, where I saw firsthand the impact of Australia’s Indigenous education policies. I was able to share my own experiences about U.S. educational approaches on Indian reservations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caption: Vince having dinner and hanging out with his philosophy friends.

 

4. What is your biggest takeaway from your Fulbright?

Vince: That indigenous communities across the world should be working together. We share so many historical similarities and are working to fight so many of the same battles every day. I truly believe that if we work together and learn from each other that we can do more than just persevere, we can thrive!

 

Caption: Vince (center back) sharing a meal with co-workers from the University of Canberra’s Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance.

 

5. What impact did your research or studies make in your career and local communities?

Vince: My Fulbright experience has had a tremendous impact on my life. It spurred me to go to law school and focus on Federal Indian law, but it also encouraged me to redouble my volunteer efforts working with Native American youth in the southwest United States. Currently, I run a professional alumni mentoring and scholarship program for Native students at the University of Arizona. Since taking over the program, I’ve been able to recruit a larger alumni community to mentor Native students and raise more scholarship funds for our students. My volunteer work collaborates with administrators to create mutually beneficial policy, and my experiences in Australia gave me the confidence to navigate and advocate in that arena.

 

6. How can native/indigenous students be supported and included in international education?

Vince: Fulbright should be more persistent about reaching out to Tribes, Tribal colleges, and international Indigenous communities about Fulbright opportunities. These connections are important not just for promoting Fulbright, but also for helping Indigenous students once they are abroad. Although Fulbright played a role in helping me make connections with Indigenous peoples in Australia, those connections were always indirect (e.g., a Fulbright alumnus introducing me to someone). Given Fulbright’s expansive alumni network and name recognition, I would like to see it strive to make those connections more directly.

U.S. Fulbright

An Engineer’s Unlikely Journey Down Under on Fulbright

August 7, 2017

Yuriy Veytskin, 2013-2014, Australia, visiting Ayers Rock at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

It was August of 2012 when I first heard about the opportunity that would change my life. How I heard about it was rather direct and unromantic: a simple email from the Fulbright Program Adviser at North Carolina State University, my alma mater, listing all of the science-related Fulbright Programs available that year. I had heard about Fulbright before, but the idea of applying for a grant in the middle of my PhD program seemed daunting and unrealistic. Setting all doubts aside, I figured I would ask my adviser for more information and take it from there. Little did I know, this would be the start of two months of dedicated, and at times frantic, application writing in order to meet the internal university and national deadlines. Unlike some other applicants, I started my application quite late and only had about five weeks to submit all of my materials by the internal campus deadline. Unfazed, I worked diligently for hours to complete my Fulbright application while also taking my graduate courses. For my affiliation letter, I cold emailed a few scientists in my potential host country, Australia, hoping that they might forward my request to the appropriate contacts. The affiliation letter I received ended up being highly detailed and focused, signed by my three prospective advisers, and was likely a major contributing factor to the success of my application.

After going through countless iterations of my Statement of Grant Purpose and Personal Statement with the assistance of my Fulbright Program Adviser, I was able to submit my application by the internal university deadline.

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U.S. Fulbright

Program Update: New Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to Australia!

July 12, 2016
Australia_08 - Abigail Sebaly

Photo courtesy of Abigail V. Sebaly, 2008-2009, Australia

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is now offering a grant to Australia in the Creative & Performing Arts (all fields), Environment Studies and Public Health.

This award is sponsored by Western Sydney University (WSU) and will enable exceptional students from the United States to undertake research of importance to the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Australia.

To learn more about this grant and other Fulbright U.S. Student grant opportunities to Australia, please visit the Australia country summary.

 

U.S. Fulbright

World Oceans Day 2016: Revisiting Marvin Alfaro’s Story and Research

June 8, 2016
Marvin Alfaro

Marvin Alfaro, 2011-2012, Australia, operates a conductivity, temperature and depth measuring instrument on board the Aurora Australis in the Southern Ocean

In honor of World Oceans Day, we are re-posting Fulbright Alumni Ambassador and alumnus Marvin Alfaro’s article describing his Fulbright research studying the Antarctic Polar Front and Global Climate Change: Impacts and Implications.  Are you a current Fulbrighter studying oceanography and/or related fields and want to share your story? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us here.

Australia is perfectly situated on the planet for me to pursue my atmosphere-ocean interaction studies. As an undergraduate meteorology major with a special interest in the Southern Ocean, I worked with oceanographers on projects analyzing the strength and location of ocean currents using remote sensing capabilities from satellites. After graduating, I became interested in combining the remote sensing data from satellites with high-resolution data retrieved on board a nautical research trip into the Southern Ocean. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provided just the type of opportunity I needed to pursue this unique cultural and research experience.

Initially, I expected life in Australia to be very similar to the culture and lifestyle I knew in the United States. But as a Latino and native New Yorker, I was in for a big surprise.

As a Fulbright Student, I lived with and learned from locals, allowing me to see the world through an Australian’s southern-Pacific lens. My Fulbright lasted a year, but the learning will last forever. In Australia, I realized how important Latin American cultures and cuisine are in my everyday life in the United States. Sydney is largely influenced by Asian cultures—Latin American influence is minimal. Before I arrived, I thought of surfers, beautiful beaches, and Sydney’s famous Harbor Bridge and Opera House. They were wonderful parts of my experience, but the Fulbright Program allowed me to experience everyday Australian life, not just see Australian landmarks.

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Foreign Fulbright

Science Olympiads and Coral Reproduction – Fulbright Community Service in Hawaii

November 23, 2015
Robert Mason-1

Conducting counts of coral egg bundles during coral spawning volunteer research at Coconut Island, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (Foreground: Robert Mason, 2013-2015, Australia; mid-ground: Jen Davidson; background: Jolly Ann Cruz)

Imagine sitting in a hall, surrounded by the brightest of your peers in the nation. You’re a senior high school student, and in front of you is a test paper – but it’s no normal test paper. The topic is not something anyone learns at school, nor even in most university courses. In fact, the topic is so specialized that only a small group of experts knows the material well. Fortunately, you work together with a teammate to answer the exam – and you need one, as your next exam is a magnetism problem that would tax a fully trained engineer.

This might sound like an X-men recruitment exam, but it’s the true experience of a small number of students from each American State participating in the National Science Olympiad, an annual competition in which students are tested on 22 different science and technology topics. Only one or a few schools per state qualify to take part in the contest. To help their students prepare, many schools enlist professors, scientists and other experts, who volunteer their time as coaches.

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U.S. Fulbright

Going Batty in Oz: Conservation of the Critically Endangered Southern Bent-wing Bat in South Australia

October 31, 2014
Kristen Lear - 1

Kristen Lear, 2011-2012, Australia, with a Southern Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) in Bat Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia

Happy Halloween! In honor of the Fulbright Program celebrating #BatWeek on Twitter, today’s blog post is from Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumna Kristen Lear, who studied the conservation of the Southern Bent-wing Bat in Australia back in 2011. Enjoy!

The wind stirs as I sit under the bright stars and listen to the rustle of bat wings as they flit past me. The bright screens of my laptop and the thermal imaging camera are the only lights shining in the dark. The stream of bats gets heavier until there are over 1,000 flying out of the cave every minute. I spend most nights like this, sitting outside Bat Cave at Naracoorte Caves National Park, South Australia, taking fly-out counts to determine the population size of Southern Bent-wing Bats (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii). The aim of my Fulbright project is to monitor the bats at the maternity cave (Bat Cave) and at their overwintering sites throughout South East South Australia.

The Southern Bent-wing Bat was listed as Critically Endangered under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 based on the fact that the sub-species has undergone a reduction in population by about 67 percent over three generations (from about 100,000-200,000 bats in the 1960s to about 30,000 in 2009) and that it has a highly restricted range, relying on only two maternity caves (Bat Cave in Naracoorte and Starlight Cave in Warrnambool, Victoria). During my Fulbright year, I have been taking regular fly-out counts with thermal imaging cameras to monitor population trends at Bat Cave and determine the peak population size, monitor pup health to watch for signs of disease or starvation and conduct overwinter cave surveys in the South East region. The information gathered from this study will help guide management strategies that will aid in the recovery of this species.

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