Tag Archives: Life After Fulbright

Interview with Fulbright U.S. Student Alumna (2014-2015, China) and 2016 Rolex Awards Young Laureate Christine Keung

Christine Keung, 2014-2015, China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was New Year’s Eve, and my Central Asian dorm mates all chipped in to buy a whole sheep. It’s a common Central Asian tradition to sacrifice a sheep to celebrate a big event, and given the fact that many of my international dorm’s residents were Muslim, the sheep had to be prepared to Halal standards…”

Such was how 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Student to China, Christine Keung, celebrated holidays in Shaanxi province during her award in Environmental Studies, where she worked closely with local university students to improve the region’s urban and rural waste practices.

Since completing her Fulbright award, Christine Keung has been named a 2016 Young Laureate by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, a 2017 Time Magazine Next Generation Leader, and gained admission to the MBA program at Harvard University.

We recently interviewed Christine to learn more about how her Fulbright experiences have had an impact on her career trajectory, what advice she has for prospective Fulbright applicants, and how she has maintained strong ties with the friends and professional contacts she established while in China.

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

I first learned about the Fulbright Program during my freshman year at Wellesley College. I had a Teaching Assistant who had been a Fulbrighter in Spain who encouraged me to apply before I graduated. As a first-year student who had not yet selected her major, who had never worked as a research assistant, and who had never studied abroad, I really couldn’t imagine myself as a Fulbright Student. It wasn’t until my junior year that I seriously considered applying for opportunities to live and work abroad after graduation. I had spent the summer after my sophomore year on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that allowed me to conduct independent research on China’s Loess Plateau. That trip allowed me to visit Western China for the first time and to form many of the relationships that helped make my Fulbright project a reality.

Memories of Magnitude: Reflections on My Fulbright Experience in India

By Benjamin Simington, 2015-2016, India

Benjamin Simington, 2015-2016, India (left), with several sadhus from different Kabir Panthi monasteries. They visited the famous Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain together during the Kumbha Mela pilgrimage.

Memory came to be a major theme of my research, along with my personal experiences with the Fulbright Program in India. My initial research project was titled Mahant with a Message: A Study of Sant Vivek Das Acharya. I wanted to focus on the life, religious activity, and socio-political vision of Sant Vivek Das Acharya, the head of the Kabir Chaura monastery of the Kabir Panth. The Kabir Panth is a monotheistic religious community in India rooted in the teachings of the medieval Indian poet-saint Kabir. The community has an emphasis on ideas of tolerance, personal spiritual practice, and the equality of all human beings.

As I continued with my research, the importance of ideas of memory became more and more salient. I eventually shifted my focus to look at how Kabir is remembered in the Kabir Panth through ritual, the space of the monastery, and through the poetry of Kabir in everyday conversation. The way that Kabir’s poetry functioned as a form of remembrance had great personal significance for me. Studying this facet of memory allowed me to experience the poetry of Kabir in a way that was not simply abstract. I was able to internalize it. Memory remains a vital part of the religious experience of the members of the community.

Meet the 2017 Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors!

From left to right, back row: Mia Warren, Shondrea McCargo, David Bernstein, Benjamin Simington, Aaron Sayama, Lyuba Basin, Ben Cohn, Ryan Bell, Gwyneth Talley; front row, left to right: Mia Warren, Tanisha Williams, M Jackson, Samantha Costello, Shayak Sengupta, History Estill-Varner, Lin Shi and Katlin Kraska (Not pictured: Sarah Lightfoot-Vidal, Michael Verlezza and Yuriy Veytskin); Photo courtesy of Lee Rivers Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, 19 newly selected Fulbright U.S. Student Program Alumni Ambassadors met in Washington, DC to receive training on how to promote and recruit for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Staff members from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education (IIE), along with previous Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors, shared tips on effectively presenting the impact, innovativeness, and inclusiveness of Fulbright Program opportunities. The orientation workshop emphasized the unique and important role that Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors play in inspiring a diverse range of students, artists, and early career professionals – as well as the Fulbright Program Advisers and college administrators who support them – to learn more about the Fulbright Program and the power of educational and cultural exchange.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassador Program was established in 2008 to identify, train and engage a select group of approximately 15-20 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni to serve as representatives, recruiters and spokespersons for the Fulbright Program. They are selected annually through recommendations from Fulbright Commissions, U.S. Embassy staff, area managers, and the Fulbright Student Program Outreach Division, and approved by the Fulbright Program’s sponsor, ECA. Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors come from an array of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, states, fields of study, and institutions and have participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in all world areas.

To learn more about the Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Program, please click here.

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Taking Stock of the Fulbright Experience: Looking Back After 13 Years

By David J. Smith, President of the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, 2003-2004, Fulbright Scholar to Estonia

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David J. Smith, 2003-2004, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Estonia (right), with his family

I have come to believe that, like the fermenting of a fine wine, a Fulbright opportunity, to be fully appreciated, needs to be considered years after the experience. There is much enthusiasm when one comes back from their time overseas about how one might make a difference in their community. But, I think there is value in looking back years after an experience and taking stock of the difference one has made.

I served as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar in 2003 and taught peace studies at the University of Tartu in Estonia. At the time I was teaching in a community college, as such I represented a minority of scholars. Community colleges have been historically under represented in the program.

Now thirteen years later, I feel I have done justice to the privilege that a Fulbright offered me. I took to heart Senator Fulbright’s goal that an exchange program could make significant impact in promoting world peace. Upon returning to the United States, I dedicated my career to the work of world peace: promoting conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and global education at the U.S. Institute of Peace, teaching in higher education, starting an NGO dedicated to humanitarian training, and working as a consultant.

High Risk, High Reward: Focusing Prevention on the Most Vulnerable Populations from Bogotá to Boston

By Giffin Daughtridge, 2011-2012, Colombia

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Giffin Daughtridge, 2011-2012, Colombia, and fellow 2011 Fulbright U.S. Student to Colombia Emma Din at Monserrate, a chapel overlooking all of Bogotá, during their orientation week.

Francesca and I were both 22 when we first met in 2011. She was a transsexual sex worker, and I was doing street outreach with the Fundación Fénix as part of my Fulbright U.S. Student grant to Bogotá, Colombia. Through our conversation, I learned she had undergone multiple surgeries from unlicensed street side providers to augment various parts of her body, consistently used a range of drugs, and engaged in sex work with up to 12 clients per day.

I enjoyed our conversation, but it also left me frustrated. Francesca was at extremely high risk of contracting an infectious disease like Hepatitis B (HBV), but she was also at extremely low likelihood of having access to the HBV vaccine. She was deeply distrustful of the public system stemming from years of abuse from police and stigma from healthcare providers, and she refused to go to any clinic or hospital to get the vaccine.

As a result, I dedicated my year to delivering Hepatitis B vaccines to the populations at highest risk of contracting the disease. In Bogotá, this was the female and transsexual sex worker population. By leveraging the healthcare resources of the Bogotá Secretary of Health and the community network with the sex worker population of the Fundación Fénix, we administered HBV vaccines to almost 200 high-risk individuals in their work places.