The Fulbright program has had huge impacts on my life and the lives of my husband, Maher Qaddumi, and our entire family. We live in Texas but the Fulbright program has given us all opportunities we would not otherwise gained. Both my husband and I, and two of our children, Halla and Tammer, are Fulbright recipients. Our other children, Anan and Summer, are also internationally oriented.
1960 — Maher Qaddumi – Fulbright Travel Grant, Jordan to U.S. My husband Maher, a Palestinian, received his Fulbright Grant when, at the age of 17, he completed secondary school in Jordan. He had placed at the top in an exam given to students in the Arab world and received a scholarship from the University of Oregon. Maher studied Architecture at the UO, and studied Math and Structural Engineering at Oregon State University and the University of Washington. Years later, at the age of 78, he continues to work in Houston as a practicing engineer and president of his Architecture and multi-discipline Engineering company – The Interfield Group, which has a branch office in Beirut, Lebanon. In addition to serving his clients, he continues to mentor young professionals from diverse backgrounds and provide career opportunities for them.
1965 — Thora Williams – Fulbright Tutor in India. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where I grew up, I was one of 54 recent graduates of U.S. universities receiving Fulbright grants to teach English throughout India as Fulbright Tutors. My year at Aligarh Muslim University’s Women’s College, during which I studied Indian Women’s Welfare Work, has led to international opportunities that have greatly enriched my life. Maher and I were married in 1967, and I had a career as a newspaper reporter and section editor. I’ve loved being part of an international family, living in Texas and taking advantage of every opportunity in the broader world.
1993 — Halla Qaddumi – Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador. Our daughter Halla, after graduating from the University of Texas, studied Eco-Tourism and Spanish in Ecuador as a Fulbright Scholar. This experience led to her studies in Economics at the London School of Economics and her Doctorate in Economics at Yale University. She is a senior water economist for the World Bank, dealing with some of the world’s most serious water issues. Halla has worked in Nile Basin countries and, in recent years, in India. She has now accepted a World Bank posting in Hanoi and is moving there with her husband, Ludovic Djidetchian, who is French.
2006 — Tammer Qaddumi – Fulbright Scholar in Syria. Our son Tammer, after graduating from Yale University (with a semester abroad at the American University of Beirut), studied Urban Planning and Arabic in Syria as a Fulbright Scholar. He is comfortable both at home in Texas and abroad, a cosmopolitan young man. Tammer worked in New York and the U.A.E. with international financial and investment banking companies. For the past several years, he has lived in Dubai and is a founding partner of VentureSouq, a GCC-based investment platform for global early-stage technology businesses with offices in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
Back to Aligarh — While she was attending college, my daughter Halla visited Aligarh Muslim University Women’s College (Abdullah Hall), where I’d taught more than 20 years earlier. I was thrilled that Halla and her friend Kala, who is from Kerala, were warmly welcome by two of my former students, who by then were teachers there. They remembered “Miss Thora,” their teacher. I have returned to India several times and, in 2008, was able to make a sentimental return visit to Aligarh. There had been changes but the eager, friendly young students were much like the sweet, happy girls I fondly remembered from my days 43 years previously, spent within the walls surrounding Abdullah Hall. My Fulbright year in India was a life-changing experience. I will always treasure memories of the time I spent there.
Thora Qaddumi – Fulbright to India 1965
What a beautiful tribute to your amazing family, Thora. Each one of your family members is an example of what we should aspire to become…loving to others, respectful of all cultures, interested and realistically astute about other cultures. Yours is a family to admire and the nations of the world could all be better for your example. i am delighted that our families have been friends for so many years.