A close. In Scotland you see these enclosed spaces or alleyways throughout the City of Edinburgh – Mary’s King Close, Advocate Close, World’s End Close, the list goes on and on. To be close, to come together, to unite. One word – two meanings.
For me, these definitions became so intertwined as I experienced my Fulbright Research Scholar award in Edinburgh, conducting research with colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University. As the only provider in Scotland of all fields of nursing and midwifery education, they were a natural partner for me as I developed and tailored risk reduction interventions for adolescents. I was delighted to experience the rich history of the Scottish capital and surrounding areas as we developed long-lasting relationships on which to build and expand the science to improve the health of adolescents across the globe.
As a Fulbright Scholar, part of your role is to connect with as many people as possible, to serve as a cultural ambassador and be willing to learn from, and learn about, the people you meet along your journey. As a scholar who was on a brief three-month visit, it was imperative that I hit the ground running with my project and collaborative efforts with my colleagues in Scotland. Flexibility is imperative. If things don’t progress with your proposal, then adapt, adjust, and strike out in a different, but just as important, direction. While I continue to meet and engage with contacts across Scotland, I also know that I may need to “rethink” my data collection approach and go with the flow. While planning to conduct focus groups with at-risk adolescents, I have also devised supplementary analyses on predictors of risk behaviors integrating my U.S. with Scottish data sets. In the meantime, I keep writing, presenting and connecting.
The Fulbright experience, sadly, must end. However, the plans for continued collaboration and integrating these research findings into tailored interventions for vulnerable adolescents continues. The US-UK Fulbright Commission’s Endcap Conference “Brave New World” was held in June in Edinburgh and provided an opportunity to connect with a diverse array of Fulbrighters, including students, teachers, and researchers. This day presented opportunities for encounters with bright and committed minds from a wide array of disciplines. Topical areas were as diverse as the attendees – from ways to promote girls’ education, to poetry, to chemistry, to the health of our oceans: we Fulbrighters had a chance to engage, think, react, connect, and to say goodbye. In a way, another close, a close to experiences that were inspirational and aspirational.
Dianne Morrison-Beedy, Professor of Nursing Education, University of South Florida
2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to the United Kingdom