I was always interested to do something meaningful in my life which would enable me to serve the society as a whole. As a teacher, I had the opportunity to serve the society. But I was searching for a larger platform. In the year 1996, the entire scenario changed in my life. I got involved in Ford Foundation funded projects in India. I wanted to come to USA to get a lifelong enrichment. Once, it was declared that I am being awarded with this coveted international fellowship, I decided that I have to become a Fulbrighter. While in India, my close association with USIEF personnel including interaction with Mr. Adam Grotsky . From India, I used to write to Dr. Marina Cunningham, Executive Director, Global Education Center and to Beth Lauren Calamiascheckel, International Scholar and Student Advisor and soon I realized that once I reach USA , I won’t face any difficulty. On the other hand, I was constantly in touch with my mentor Prof. Dibyendu Sarkar at Montclair State University, on the academic front.
As I reached USA from the day one itself, it was a new journey in my life. Getting acquainted with the people of a different country with rich scientific advancement and cultural heritage, working in sophisticated laboratories, using the resources of the library, walking across the sprawling campus changed the perspective of my life. I opened my bank account, got my social security number and started going to the market and purchasing things using my debit card helped me to get accustomed with the US life. I made interactions with the faculties and graduate students which gave more comfort zone. I went to field work with Dr. Gorring , along with the students to Adirondacks and Bertand Mines, worked and stayed in the tent and everything helped me to know more about this unique country. I went to Pennsylvania for my research related fieldwork along with Michael Hardy, a Graduate Student and virtually amazed to see Penn State University library and the stadium. I took conducted tour to Washington and my experience at Capitol Hill, Smithsonian Institute and cruise on Potomac River were really matchless. Later on, during Thanksgiving, I had been to Vermont (Stowie Mountain) and staying in the condominium and experiencing snow for the first time in my life were really memorable. I spoke at the seminar in front of the august gathering at the university. I developed collaboration with my host institution in terms of research, teaching. My Fulbright experience at Montclair has definitely changed me and I consider myself lucky to get this exposure in my life.
I became more focused and pragmatic. I am ready to serve the humanity in my capacity with sincerity and honesty. During my interaction with Dr. Cunningham, prior to my departure to India, I could express myself in the way, I have written here. She also expressed her happiness to notice this change in me. This is the best reward of my Fulbright experience.
Debdas Ray – Fulbright to USA 2010