Benjamin Cohn, 2014-2015, Fulbright-mtvU Fellow to Ghana, interviewing rap artist Reggie Rockstone in Accra
The 10 months I spent in Ghana for my Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship were the most supportive and constructive of my life. Sure, I faced new challenges every day, even insurmountable ones occasionally, but between my home communities, the Fulbright Program, and the new relationships I made in Ghana, I have never been more prepared to take risks.
Prior to applying, I had always considered Fulbright to be for “other people” until, at a networking meeting, I was told to consider it by the Executive Director of the Fulbright Association, an independent U.S. alumni organization. Upon further investigation, I realized that Fulbright’s goals aligned with my own more than I ever expected. Traveling has played a large part in my development; being exposed to different experiences, worldviews, and perspectives has 100 percent changed me for the better. Senator Fulbright believed that to be true for individuals, and even more so for nations.
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.
Being a Fulbrighter will always be an important part of my life. The opportunity to study and immerse myself in a culture abroad opens your horizons and makes you grow in every way. Even still, I never imagined that Fulbright would have an impact on my life in an even more profound way. I am from El Salvador, and in 2011, I was awarded a Fulbright grant to pursue a master’s in tourism at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, I returned to El Salvador, but soon after, I was offered a job with an international organization based in Washington, DC.
During my Fulbright, I was involved in Fulbright-specific networking opportunities such as gateway orientations, enrichment seminars and the Fulbright Association Chapter events. I made a lot of friends through these events and I have visited them both in the United States and around the world whenever I have the chance.
New to the DC area, I joined the Fulbright Association National Capital Area Chapter. In November 2014, I attended one of the chapter events: an open house reception at the Goethe-Institut. There is where I met Martin. Martin was at that time a visiting researcher on a Fulbright grant from Denmark, doing a one-year research project at the National Institutes of Health. During our first conversation, I recognized the same spark in his eyes when we talked about our dreams, passions and careers. Despite being from very different countries and cultures that speak different languages, have different professional opportunities and different social norms, we found in each other a partner with the same values, goals and dreams.