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Fulbright Impact in the Field: Global Health & COVID-19 Reunion Panel – Lessons Learned and Key Takeaways

February 8, 2021

“We know that infections: they don’t have borders, they don’t have governments. They don’t care about presidents, they don’t care about our political system. We have to do this together.”
-Igor Stoma, MD, PhD; 2017 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Belarus to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Overview

Since the emergence of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Fulbright participants and alumni have been working tirelessly to uplift, innovate, and find solutions to challenges facing our communities and world.

The Fulbright Impact in the Field panel series, which is open to the public, provides a digital space for Fulbright alumni experts to share their insights, expertise, and Fulbright’s impact on local and global communities. The Fulbright 75th Anniversary Special “Fulbright Impact in the Field” Reunion Panel on Global Heath & COVID-19 on January 29, 2021 reunited our original panelists from the May 2020 event for a follow-up discussion.

 

Meet the Panelists

Participating Fulbright alumni, who are physicians and scientists, shared updates about their experiences combatting the pandemic over the past year. They discussed changes in coronavirus treatment, lessons learned about the virus, the current state of vaccine production and distribution, and more.

Moderator

Imre Varju, MD, PhD, MPH, CHES (2016 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Hungary to Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) – Dr. Varju is a medical scientist and health communications specialist who is interested in sharing how to accurately communicate risk and public health developments.

Panelists

Serena Dasani, MD, MBA (2013 Fulbright ETA to Indonesia) – Dr. Dasani is an anesthesia resident physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and has conducted research quantifying the financial impact that COVID-19 had on U.S. hospitals.
Javier Jaimes, DVM, MS, MBA, PhD (2014 Foreign Fulbright Student from Colombia to Cornell University) – Dr. Jaimes is a virologist working in research and education. He is currently studying the pathogenesis of the SARS-Co V-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 emergency.
Igor Stoma, MD, PhD (2017 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Belarus to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) – Dr. Stoma is Chancellor and Professor of Infectious Diseases at Gomel State Medical University in Belarus who consults on the treatment of the most complex cases of COVID-19.
Charlotte Summers, PhD, MRCP, FFICM (2013 Fulbright Visiting Scholar from the United Kingdom to University of California, San Francisco) – Dr. Summers is an academic critical care physician at Cambridge with a passion for translating basic science into therapies for critically ill patients.
Benjamin tenOever, PhD (2014 U.S. Scholar to Institut Pasteur and Ecole Normale Superieure in France) – Dr. tenOever is Director of the Virus Engineering Center for Therapeutics and Research (VECToR) at Mount Sinai and is involved in an international consortium to develop vaccines and antivirals against Novel Coronavirus (SARS-Co V-2).

 

Key Takeaways

During the discussion, panelists reaffirmed the importance of:

  1.  Public health planning and management for faster response to emergencies, including pandemics
  2.  Accurate and timely health communication to combat misinformation
  3.  Solving complex problems via international collaboration and engagement

 

After an unprecedented period of research, vaccine testing, and new solutions to public health challenges, the panelists look forward to increased focus on:

  1.  Encouraging empathy among the general population
  2.  Promoting basic scientific literacy
  3.  Improving healthcare equity and access around the world

 

To watch the panelists dive into these relevant discussions, click here.

To learn about upcoming Fulbright Impact in the Field panels and other Fulbright 75th anniversary events, sign up for the newsletter.

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Fulbright for Posterity: The Ripple Effects of Fulbright on Rural America

February 13, 2019
By Niecea Freeman, Fulbright ETA to Czech Republic 2018-2019

“How about: It’s quality, not quantity?” my dad proposed, wearing a grin. We were brainstorming city slogans for Loyalton, California, my hometown of 800 people nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains—now named “the Loneliest Town in America.”  We all laughed. On the surface, country living seems like paradise, but in reality a myriad of issues affect rural communities across the nation. Employment opportunities are sparse, lower income leads to higher instances of poverty, and—consequently—there is a clear demand and absolute need for higher quality education.

Megan Meschery and her family in Spain, 2008 Fulbright program.

When the town’s sawmill closed in 2001, followed by a mass population exodus, Loyalton’s tax revenues declined rapidly and ancillary school programming disappeared with them. First, we lost music and art specials. Later, our middle school was condemned, and students were moved from portable buildings into the high school, losing their separate facilities entirely. In truth, it has only been through the extraordinary efforts of dedicated teachers and community members that our school district has been kept afloat: teachers like my high school Spanish instructor, Megan Meschery, who are determined to redefine our local community without much funding from state or federal agencies.

In 2008, Megan left for a Fulbright grant in Granada, Spain, where she examined how rural economic development funding provided by the European Union reduced inequalities in public schools regardless of geographic location. She sought to find parallels and lessons applicable to rural education in America and to develop ways to promote cultural awareness and growth in Loyalton. While Megan’s experiences rather highlighted the differences between U.S. and EU development models, Megan also returned from her two-year Fulbright burgeoning with ideas tailored to Loyalton’s situation, and immediately found ways to introduce positive change, starting with school electives.

The Sierra Schools Foundation sponsors hands-on learning opportunities like harvesting chamomile tea flowers in the Loyalton Learning Garden.

My favorite memories from high school are from the culture club she initiated, through which I saw my first Broadway play, Wicked, and visited my first classical art exhibit, featuring masterpieces from Rembrandt and Raphael. These experiences opened my eyes to the world beyond our tiny valley, and change did not stop there.

The following year, Megan founded a non-profit organization called The Sierra Schools Foundation (SSF – sierraschoolsfoundation.org) to combat inequality in the school district by providing grants for resources and programs such as the STEM Learning Garden, Local-Artists-in-the-School, Advancing to College SAT prep, and others. I volunteered with SSF throughout college, running fundraisers, where I witnessed firsthand how, with dedication and perseverance, local organizations genuinely have power to initiate positive change.

Niecea (right) and her mentor, Martina (left) in Lanškroun’s city square, Czech Republic, 2018 Fulbright program.

These formative experiences propelled me to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Czech Republic for the 2018-2019 academic year, where I will be living in a rural community not unlike Loyalton, teaching English to secondary students enrolled in veterinary and agricultural programs. As an undergrad, I pursued a B.S. in Integrated Elementary Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language with the primary goal of becoming an elementary school teacher in a high-needs, rural community in the United States. Now, I  am ready to go forward and learn from the students and families of my host country to explore new perspectives and pedagogies that will reshape the way I view myself and my role as an educator. The quantity of programs in Loyalton’s schools has stagnated, but the quality of our education can continue to blossom

Niecea with the calves at the Lanškroun Veterinary & Agriculture School dairy
U.S. Fulbright

U.S. Diplomat in Germany Reflects on Value of Fulbright Experience

January 11, 2018

In front of the Brandenburg Gate, the famous sign warns that one is about to leave West Berlin. Photo credit: Jeffrey A. VanDreal

Jeff VanDreal has spent the last 30 years as an American diplomat, representing the United States overseas on four continents and managing some of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world. Before joining the U.S. Foreign Service, he studied in Berlin in 1986-1987 as a Fulbright U.S. Student to West Germany. He’s back in Germany now, this time as the Minister-Counselor for Management Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

We recently interviewed VanDreal to learn more about his experience in Berlin prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to ask how his Fulbright experience prepared him for a global career in American diplomacy.

How did you originally hear about the Fulbright Program, and who/what inspired you to apply?

I had known, vaguely, about the Fulbright Program since high school, as I had always been interested in student exchange programs. It never occurred to me to actually apply, however, until a colleague of mine at St. Antony’s College in Oxford, UK, successfully applied for a grant. As I was finishing my master’s degree in International Relations, I had applied to the Foreign Service but wished to extend my studies for one more year. The Fulbright Program provided the perfect vehicle for doing so.

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U.S. Fulbright

It’s International Education Week! Congrats to This Year’s First-Ever Fulbright U.S. Student Finalist Institutions!

November 15, 2017

In honor of International Education Week 2017, the Fulbright Program congratulates the 15 colleges and universities who achieved their first-ever #Fulbright U.S. Student Program Finalists for the 2017-2018 competition.

The Fulbright Program continuously seeks to expand the number of institutions that benefit from the many Fulbright opportunities that are available, and we are proud to celebrate the success of these institutions, their Fulbright recipients, and the faculty and staff who help mentor and guide them in their applications.

To review the list of this year’s first-ever Fulbright U.S. Student Program Finalist institutions, please click on the video below. Congratulations once again to this year’s schools!

Enrichment Foreign Fulbright U.S. Fulbright

Fulbright Celebrates the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 26, 2017

Today, the Fulbright Program wishes the Americans with Disabilities Act a very happy 27th anniversary! Fulbright strives to ensure that its participants reflect the full diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad.

Applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply and can learn more about resources and opportunities at https://www.eca.state.gov/fulbright.

Please also visit the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange at http://www.miusa.org/ncde, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by Mobility International USA, for more useful information on applying.

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