Hassaan Idrees, 2014-2016, Pakistan (right) taking a selfie with kids from the village of Revi ji Dhani, excited to see lightbulbs which will allow them to play and study until late in the evenings.
Hema, an eight-year-old girl, is one of five siblings living in the village of Revi ji Dhani, located close to the Mirpurkhas-Umerkot highway, a perennially drought-ridden area in Pakistan. Every day, she wakes up before the crack of dawn to fetch water from a hand pump at a distance of two miles. It is a winding, nasty route that she has to maneuver in the dark, for there are no streetlights, and snakes and wild dogs run amok in the desert bushes. Panting and sweating on her return, she has to get ready to go to a dilapidated public school situated a mile away. Hema has trouble finishing her homework under the grim gaslight at home: it’s inadequate, expensive, and dangerous. As her father runs a small store in the village, however, she is one of the fortunate few to actually attend school; the vast majority of children in Revi ji Dhani have to assist their families with herding cows or woodcutting to make ends meet.
Hema belongs to an unbelievably impoverished community: more than 46% of people in the Umerkot district, with a population of more than 700,000, live with less than $1.90 a day. Rural female literacy is less than 10% in this district. Access to the grid is limited to the main town and larger villages, and still suffers from daily blackouts. Smaller villages and hamlets have power outages for as long as 18 hours a day or are not connected to the grid at all. With little or no power, the local economy suffers, and life is tough.
Clockwise from left: Shayak Sengupta, 2015-2016, India, Emily Yedinak, 2013-2014, Chile, Yuriy Veytskin, 2013-2014, Australia, and Gwyneth Talley, 2015-2015, Morocco
On-Campus interview season is coming up! This can be a nerve-wracking time for those of you applying to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program through your college or university. Try not to worry, though – the interview is a way to add a “face” to your Fulbright application and get helpful feedback.
You’ll hit submit on the Embark Online Application before your campus deadline, your on-campus Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) will schedule an on-campus interview, and you will then have the chance to explain and defend your project. This interview is an additional element to your application when your campus committee rates and recommends you. After the interview, your FPA will re-open your application, allowing you to adjust it before the final national deadline. As Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassadors, we’ve been through this process before and have created a Q & A about campus interviews to help you prepare.
Hai-Vu Phan, 2016-2017, Fulbright Public Policy Fellow to Peru, visiting a solar energy plant near Tacna, Peru. (Photo credit: Maximo Meza)
As a 2016-2017 Fulbright Public Policy Fellow to Peru, I have served as a technical assistant within Peru’s energy regulatory agency, the Supervisory Organization for Investment in Energy and Mines (Osinergmin), for ten months. I am also concurrently a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California, where my interest and dissertation research focuses on renewable energy policies.
During my tenure at Osinergmin, I have helped my office publish a special report on the energy consumption ladder and a book on renewable energy. Additionally, I assisted on a number of internal projects, including academic chapters and articles, reports, institutional memoranda, and a research paper. I also conducted a weekly English conversation seminar for my colleagues. Lunch breaks and downtimes gave me the opportunity to speak with my coworkers about Peru’s energy situation and my own research. Aside from my formal work, there were also many opportunities for me to connect and make lasting friendships with my coworkers.
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.
Shayak Sengupta, 2015-2016, India, sitting in front of output from WRF-Chem on his monitor, an atmospheric model maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. Sengupta used this model for his Fulbright research to simulate the atmosphere and air pollution over India and ran the model on HPC 2013, one of the fastest supercomputers in India located at IIT Kanpur.
“You grew up in the United States? But your Bengali is so fluent!”
“Why don’t you speak with an accent? Didn’t you have problems learning English?”
“It’s interesting that you came here. Don’t most people go to the U.S.?”
These are just some of the pleasantly surprising comments I heard throughout my experience as a Fulbright-Nehru Student Researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), where I studied air pollution control at Indian coal power stations. While India’s economy continues to grow at a tremendous rate and the country works to deliver electricity to millions of its citizens who do not have power, it still faces challenges related to poor air quality, especially in urban areas. During my Fulbright-Nehru grant, I conducted field visits to coal power plants and used computational models to understand how better air pollution control at these stations would affect ambient air quality.
Jimmy Mahady is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumnus who researched the development of renewable energy in Uruguay in 2013.
Foreword: The musings herein were gleaned from a few days of service-learning through a special Fulbright Enrichment Activity with Amizade in the town of Williamson, WV and its surrounding area. My intuition and meager sample size have yielded this blurry, self-reflective view of what was, is and may be. Thanks for reading.
Six participants from abroad, six from the U.S. – I have come together under the banner of mutual understanding with my fellow fellows to Williamson, WV and we are growing together like a bunch of grapes. I’ve never been to a place like this. Infinite hills – friendly, drawn-out speech and demeanor – a town with its head held high – in spite of unforgiving squalls of global market forces. From far away, current residents’ forefathers arrived here, willing or not, nearly all of whom fought hard to survive. The rich seams of coal presented an obsidian opportunity, but avaricious plutocrats spared no expense to make the people’s sometimes deadly struggle for fair treatment seem Sisyphean. Eventually they prevailed, and fairer wages and better working conditions begot longer hours below with the black particulate that crackled in their chests.