In 2017, the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association celebrated its ten year anniversary — a decade of providing opportunities for life-long learning, networking, and service to Fulbrighters in the country’s northernmost state. Led by a driven board and bolstered by strong connection to local universities, the chapter has worked since its inception to preserve and promote the legacy of the Fulbright story in Maine and beyond.
Managing a chapter that covers an entire state is certainly not without its challenges. Over the past three years, the chapter leadership has taken meaningful steps to ensure that their programming reaches more Fulbrighters across the state. “Internally, we more clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of our officers and committees on the Board of Directors. We also created a strategic planning matrix that sets out our goals with timelines. Externally, we have taken the Fulbright message to areas of the state not previously served by our chapter. Maine is a very large, rural state where distances can be an issue and we have tried to overcome this by holding events at campuses and other locations around the state,” explains Chapter President Robert Lively, Jr., who is Dean Emeritus at the University of Maine, Farmington, and a Fulbright International Education Administrators Program alumnus (Germany, 2000).
A format that the chapter has found to be particularly successful is a three-part event at a Maine campus that includes an event or tour unique to the campus followed by dinner and an after-dinner speaker. They have successfully orchestrated these types of events at campuses across the state, including a sail on the Arctic Schooner Bowdoin at Maine Maritime Academy (above), a tour of the Dorr Museum of Natural History at the College of the Atlantic (right), and a tour of the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine. By creating these opportunities for educational enrichment and connection building among Fulbrighters in more areas of the state than ever before, Lively reflects, “one of the benefits is that we identify Fulbright alums we didn’t know existed” and can then bring them more fully into the chapter community.
One of the chapter’s recent events in its signature style took place at the University of Maine at Augusta in October 2017. The evening began with a viewing of Were the House Still Standing: Maine Survivors and Liberators Remember the Holocaust — an 80-minute multimedia installation incorporating image, text, sound, and space — at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine on the UMA campus. The viewing was followed by a discussion led by the artist, Robert Katz. University President Dr. Rebecca Wyke then hosted the group of Fulbrighters, faculty, and students for dinner, allowing for productive conversation among attendees. A post-dinner academic talk focused on building community through teaching the graphic novel. Fulbright alumna and UMA Professor Lisa Botshon presented her innovative research on the collaborative teaching of comics and its connections to art and literature. Dr. Botshon has received a second Fulbright grant to teach this material at the University of Lisbon in Portugal in 2018. A Fulbright Program Adviser from the university was also present at the event to speak about her role and how she can assist both faculty and students considering applying for a Fulbright grant. The event checked off many important boxes for the chapter: it provided cultural and educational enrichment, allowed for mingling and networking, and brought together a diverse group of both current members and Fulbright alums who had never before attended a chapter event.
The Maine Chapter also created a website earlier this year, and the sleek design serves as a beautiful resource for chapter members and prospective members as well as a repository for the chapter’s annual programming. A special feature of the site is a page inviting Fulbrighters to share their stories with the chapter community. A brief submission form asks interested alumni to share a memory in writing, focusing on “a pivotal moment or transformative aspect of your Fulbright experience.” The page currently highlights the experience of Elizabeth Eames, whose Fulbright to Nigeria allowed her to complete participant research among Yoruba-speaking market women in Ondo as part of her doctoral dissertation. This feature will only continue to grow as a communal space for the Fulbright community in Maine, and we encourage Mainers to share their most cherished Fulbright moments by visiting the site!
The chapter looks forward to exploring new ventures in 2018, including an event in partnership with a community college and a co-sponsored concert with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. With these programs, as with everything it does, the chapter reflects and seeks to build upon its core values. “Our chapter motto is ‘The shortest distance between two people is a story,’ and from that we talk about how the Fulbright experience is one that creates stories — that through shared experiences with our international Fulbright friends and colleagues, stories emerge that help define, illustrate, and further the Fulbright mission,” Lively shares.
“The Maine Chapter’s thoughtful programming strategy has made it an exemplary statewide chapter,” says Kelsey Poholsky, Fulbright Association Chapter Relations and Membership Manager. “We appreciate that the chapter has brought its programming, and the Fulbright mission, to many new campuses and communities across the state.”
If you currently live in Maine and would like to join the chapter as a member of the Fulbright Association, visit fulbright.org/membership.