A primary goal of the Fulbright program is to foster mutual understanding between people in different countries – people at prestigious institutions and people within the local communities. During the spring semester of 2018, I was a Fulbright Scholar to Loyola College in India. My primary assignment was to teach psychology in a variety of courses but I also gave prominent lectures at Loyola College and two other institutions.
Two months before I left for India (my wife accompanied me), I had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder. It appeared to be on the mend. However, my wife and I did quite a bit of traveling when we first arrived in India – traveling that involved maneuvering bags and suitcases in-and-out of cabs and auto-rickshaws as quickly as possible. I was concerned that I might have re-injured the shoulder. Eventually, I made an appointment with a surgeon in India, had an X-ray and MRI, and started physical therapy. My physical therapy occurred at the Apollo Hospital – a quality hospital in Chennai. At the entrance and lobby area, there was almost always a hustle-and-bustle atmosphere that resembled a busy airport. But I soon realized that there was an organized triage plan as I encountered patients, often with their extended families, and often waiting for long periods of time.
My physical therapist was a very capable young woman. She was professional, thorough, and genuinely concerned for my wellbeing. Over the course of our ten therapy sessions together, we would talk about each other’s family, current state of affairs, ambitions, and so forth. At one point, she told me that she definitely wanted me and my wife to attend her wedding someday, even though she had no idea who her marriage partner might be. As inconvenient as it often was for me to go to physical therapy two times a week, and yes, once I was there she worked me hard – ouch – I still looked forward to our times together. Indeed, we had a meaningful relationship, born from a Fulbright Scholarship. Today, my shoulder is just fine, thanks in large part to my physical therapist in India.
Jay L. Wenger – Fulbright to India 2017