In Memoriam: Colin L Powell – 2004 Fulbright Prize Laureate

In Memoriam: Colin L Powell – 2004 Fulbright Prize Laureate

The Fulbright Association alumni community is saddened to learn of the passing of Colin L. Powell, the 2004 recipient of the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

Gen. Powell advanced the Fulbright mission of fostering mutual understanding and partner nations by placing emphasis on reaffirming diplomatic alliances throughout the world throughout his career.

He supported a national missile defense system, worked towards peace in the Middle East, and prioritized sanctions instead of force in potential hot spots. He also focused on reinvigorating U.S. diplomacy through reforms in the Department of State’s organizational culture and an infusion of resources for personnel, information technology, security, and facilities.

Awarded by the Fulbright Association since 1993, the Fulbright Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to promoting peace through greater understanding among peoples, cultures, and nations. We are honored that Gen. Powell chose to accept this award in 2004.

Below is an excerpt from Colin L. Powell’s Fulbright Prize speech:

Colin L. Powell – United States Secretary of State
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Fulbrighters have also been extraordinarily active and successful in the world: 34 have won Nobel prizes; 65 have won Pulitzer prizes; 21 have received MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Awards; 14 have received the presidential medal of freedom, our nation’s highest honor.

And Fulbright scholars have generally been successful in ways that advance both American interests and principles-a Fulbrighter, Arminda Maia, helped lead East Timor’ s struggle for freedom and democracy; Alejandro Toledo, a shoeshine boy turned economist, and now the president of Peru, was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford.

The success of Fulbrighters far transcends government service. One of the most prominent educators in the United States today and the person who chaired the committee that selected me for this, Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, the daughter of a sharecropper, she earned her doctorate from Harvard and won a Fulbright fellowship to France. She works tirelessly to support education.

Then there’s Dr. Najma Najam, from Pakistan, founded the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University-the first and only graduate school for women in her country- and she did that just two years after her Fulbright award at the University of Pittsburgh.

So many other stories, I could go on and on and on. In the Fulbright Program’s 58-year history, more than a quarter of a million Americans and foreign citizens have benefited from this experience. But whether they become prime ministers or poets, scientists or senators, educators or engineers, Fulbrighters have all carried 8 with them a better understanding of cultures other than their own, and as a result, they serve as agents of change, they shape opinions, and they contribute to the advancement of both knowledge and international understanding. Better understanding among people is not a magic potion. Not all conflicts in the world are solved, or even caused or solved by misunderstandings, some are based on real interests that really conflict.

But we’d be irresponsible not to take full advantage of what President Lincoln called the better angels of human nature. And that’s what the Fulbright Program is all about.

Photos from the event.

 

Terima Kasih, Malaysia – Sean O’Carroll – Malaysia 2019

2019 Fulbright Malaysia ETAs Sean O’Carroll, Zak Gordon, and Carter Sanders present “Terima Kasih, Malaysia”, a poetic homage to their experience teaching English in the country. During their year, Sean and Zak lived on the eastern side of the Malay peninsula while Carter lived on the island of Borneo. A majority of the footage shown was filmed in Malaysia, but also includes aerial footage from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand during Sean’s travels. This video is dedicated to each of the communities that welcomed the 2019 cohort with open arms, and of course, our students!

Sean O’Carroll – Filmer and Editor
instagram.com/slocated
www.seanoc.me

Zak Gordon – Poet and Writer
instagram.com/zakgordonpoetry

Carter Sanders – Composer and Musician
instagram.com/cartersandersmusic

Ben Perez – Underwater footage
instagram.com/ben_perez19

Cole Riggan – Executive Producer and Writer
instagram.com/tony_pajamas1

Insight Trip to Iceland: August 2021

Insight Trip to Iceland: August 2021

The Fulbright Association Travel Program, after being “on hold” for over a year because of the pandemic (Covid-19), resumed with the second journey to Iceland, created in cooperation with the Fulbright Commission in Iceland (Fulbright Stofnun), through its Executive Director, Belinda Theriault, and Fulbright Association Representative (FAR) Mary Ellen Heian Schmider.

The first Icelandic trip, in 2019, had been created in partnership with MUNDO, the Travel Agency headed by Margret Jonsdottir Njarthvik, a Fulbright alumna from Princeton University where she received the Ph. D. In Spanish Language and Culture. She became Rector of one of Iceland’s seven universities a year ago. She had asked Belinda Theriault to use her vacation time to travel with the group in 2019.

When approached by the FAR, Schmider, Theriault not only agreed to partner in the planning of the second journey, but suggested that the Fulbright Commission itself could be the partner agency, given her involvement in 2019 as well as the timing: the trip was to begin a few weeks following the intensive Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminar for Teachers her office had managed in June 2021.

One of the many advantages of connecting with the office was that the work prepared for the American Teachers could be utilized as preparation materials for anyone wanting to read, watch, listen, or otherwise prepare for the August trip. The second was, of course, that Belinda had just completed a month of touring with the teachers, so she knew every nook and cranny of the areas we planned to explore and had access to appropriate restaurants and hotels. She was able to put the logistics in place fairly quickly—important since the planning had begun in May when Iceland opened up to American tourists. She and the FA took the gamble that a second Iceland Tour for the FA alums and friends would “fill” and be possible on short notice.

As it turned out, the trip was both highly successful and fortunate in that the resurgence of Covid-19 was building in the few days before the trip began and the listing of Iceland on the “do not travel list” occurred just as the journey ended. The good news is that no one on the trip became infected; all were tested both before leaving for Iceland and before returning to the USA. Further, even with the “masking requirement” in Iceland, the ten people on the small van traveling together into territory not so populated nor touristy as the area around Reykjavik could relax without masks most of the time: we were our own small “pod.”

Evaluations have been received from nearly all of the traveling group. The consensus was consistent with the informal conversations and exchanges of photos on WhatsApp both during and after the trip: it was a spectacular, in depth experience of the country with a great group of traveling companions, and a superb leader in Belinda Theriault.

The Itinerary for the trip was detailed both in the FA website marketing the trip and in the booklet prepared for travelers, as is usual practice in the Travel Program, so it need not be repeated in this report.

What should be acknowledged formally is that the two significant “adventures” that were added to the 2021 journey were especially praised: one was a “walk” 500 meters into the second largest glacier in the country. The other was a morning on a small boat to experience whale watching from the “Whaling Capital of the World, Husavik.” The group enjoyed 72 degree F. sunny weather, the opportunity to observe Puffins on their island and flying close to the boat, and a Minke whale who seemed to want to become friends with the boat—it stayed around, checking out the vessel and us for about an hour. It was an unusual enough encounter that one of the two guides took a “selfie” with the whale on one of its turns around the boat.

These two events replaced the 2019 descent into a “dead” volcano with a guide whose education and life were involved with preservation of the natural history of the country. We also learned that no volcano is ever really dead; the eruption of the 800-year old “dead” volcano about 20 KM from Reykjavik was ongoing during our visit. We did not go out to walk around on the hot earth, but the rising smoke was visible from miles away, looking like a small atomic blast.

At least two other changes in the itinerary from 2019 were also important additions: the trip began with an afternoon at Thingvellir, the first National Park in the country, and the site of the world’s oldest Parliament. Founded in 930 CE, the democratic basis of Icelandic life began with a “law speaker” at the annual gathering of the entire country. It was the place where the law speaker decided the country should convert to Christianity, but people were allowed to continue to practice their pagan religion in private. Of course, the physical landscape also lies on one of the earth’s major fault lines, one that is still moving; the tectonic plates separating the Americas from the Eur/Asian land masses.

On an interesting note, the Director of Thingvellir National Park: Einar Á. E. Sæmundsen, is a Fulbright alumnus who studied natural history in Minnesota, starting with a trip to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca National Park where John Tester spent summers creating the essential study of the Natural History of Minnesota. Tester’s widow, Joyce, was part of our group. The second edition, revised, of Tester’s work was completed with three younger scholars working with Tester until a week before his death at 90 two years ago.

The trip concluded with the focus on democratic institutions in Iceland through a talk with the public representative of the Athingi, the current Parliament of the country. Covid concerns made it impossible to visit inside the iconic building, but the young woman who met with the group was knowledgeable and willing to respond to the typical variety of questions a Fulbright group would ask!

Rounding out the religious/cultural journey into Iceland’s history were two other events: one was an hour with an historian at the Snorri Sturlson Center at Reykholt—the research site for study of Icelandic literature and language, centered in the ancient Sagas. The other was in Holar, the oldest ecclesiastical center in the country. Here we had the opportunity to attend a full Lutheran (the Icelandic State Church) service in Icelandic, a summer event for local citizens and visitors, followed by a concert by four young musicians recently returned from major studies in Europe. Between the rector at the university, who hosted us once more, and one of three Bishops in the country, both women, we learned a lot about the emerging leadership of educated women in the country. In fact, one of our travel group was so struck by the work being done to revitalize the educational and religious culture in this historic place in the North of the country that she is working to have a Specialist Award to return to Holar.

Those of us who spent time in the National Museum in Reykjavik on our last day learned more about the importance of Holar. The Bishop who took over when the Reformation came to Iceland spent fifty years in office, translating the Bible into Icelandic. He knew that the preservation of the language was essential, and his work made that possible. All the Sagas can still be read in the original by Icelanders. This first Bible in Icelandic is more popularly known as ‘Guðbrands Biblia’, after its translator and editor Guðbrandur Þorláksson (1541/2-1627), Bishop of Hólar. Guðbrandur studied at the cathedral school at Hólar in the north of Iceland before enrolling at the University of Copenhagen. In 1571 he was appointed Bishop of Hólar, a position he held until his death in 1627.

As a way to summarize the group cohesion and pleasure in one another’s company, a word about “food.” Everyone arrived a day early to be ready for the week together. With What’s APP, we all found our way to Caruso, a fine restaurant in the heart of “old” Reykjavik. We had a private room and glorious versions of every sort of fish we ordered. It was so good that everyone chose to return there after our tour ended for our last night in the country. The tour days themselves featured exceptional food every time: Belinda knew her restaurants, including a Moroccan meal in Siglufjorder with individual Tagines serving local Lamb. One of the Icelanders who is working on revitalization of the small sea-side towns in the North had traveled to Morocco where he so enjoyed the work of the chef that he invited him to come North to cook. The result: a restaurant worth traveling to the top of the country just to eat!

In summary, the trip “exceeded expectations” in every way!

–Mary Ellen Heian Schmider

2021 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Dana Tai Soon Burgess

2021 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Photo by Sueraya Shaheen

Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Founder, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

Dana Tai Soon Burgess is an American choreographer and dancer. In May 2016 Burgess was named the Smithsonian’s first-ever choreographer in residence at the National Portrait Gallery. His work has tended to focus on the “hyphenated person” – someone who is of mixed ethnic or cultural heritage – as well as issues of belonging and societal acceptance. He serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department, an appointment he uses to promote international cultural dialogue through “the global language of dance”. Throughout his career, Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world.

Burgess was born in California but grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the son of visual artists Joseph James Burgess Jr. and Anna Kang Burgess. He began dancing at the age of 16 after a brief childhood career as a competitive martial artist. His mother is descended from the first group of Korean immigrants to come to America. His earliest Korean American ancestors are Chin Hyung Chai, who arrived in Hawaii aboard the Gaelic, known as the ‘first ship’, in 1903, and Man Soo Kang who arrived on the ship Manchuria in 1904. They became Hawaiian plantation workers.

After graduating from Santa Fe High School in 1985, Burgess attended the University of New Mexico and studied dance and Asian history. Burgess graduated in 1990 and moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended the George Washington University and completed a Masters in Fine Arts in 1994. He has trained with notable dancers, such as Tim Wengerd and Judith Bennahum. He also studied the Michio Itō technique in Washington, D.C.

In 1992, Burgess established the Moving Forward: Contemporary Asian American Dance Company. This was renamed in 2005 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. (DTSB&Co.) and again in 2013 to Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC). It is the preeminent contemporary dance company in the Washington, D.C. area.

At the time he founded his dance company, Burgess also established the Moving Forward: Asian American Youth Program, which was a summer program for Asian American youth. The program still operates under the name DTSB Asian American Youth Program, and is a year-round mentoring program for high school students. Feeling “caught between different cultural worlds” as a child, Burgess has said he created the program as a way for young people to explore identity, artistic self-expression, and their Asian American heritage.

In 2006 he retired from dancing due to a bad back. But in 2008 he returned to the stage as a stand-in for one of his dancers, which resulted in a Washington Post review by critic Sarah Kaufman called “Retired Burgess Hasn’t Lost A Step” that said “Burgess has emerged as the area’s leading dance artist, consistently following his own path and producing distinctive, well-considered works.” The performance included the premiere of Hyphen, a surrealist dance work featuring video images by Nam June Paik from the 1960s.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company performed their premiere of “A Tribute to Marian Anderson” at the National Portrait Gallery on Monday, February 3, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Malet)

Burgess’s dance works have been performed in numerous venues, including the Kennedy Center, La Mama, the United Nations headquarters, Dance Place, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Asia Society, and the Lincoln Center Out of Doors. He spoke and presented his dance Dariush at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama in May 2013 as part of National Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

On August 11, 2013, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company performed a new dance work Revenant Elegy at The National Gallery of Art, inspired by their Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes Exhibit, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. This was followed by a residency at the National Portrait Gallery, where Burgess created a dance work called Homage inspired by the museum’s “Dancing the Dream” exhibition. Both Revenant Elegy and Homage were performed at the Kennedy Center in February, 2014.

He was the first Smithsonian choreographer-in-residence at the National Portrait Gallery from 2013-2014. In April 2014, Burgess premiered the new work Confluence there to critical acclaim. Burgess and his dancers were featured as part of the museum’s “Dancing the Dream” exhibition, where his portrait hung alongside modern-dance pioneers including Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, and contemporary ‘masters’ Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris. Audiences and museum tourists were able to observe the “living exhibit” of Burgess choreographing and rehearsing with his dancers from August, 2013 through July, 2014.

Burgess currently has three portraits on permanent collection at the Smithsonian.

In May 2014 he told Smithsonian magazine that his work Confluence, created as part of DTSBDC’s residency at National Portrait Gallery, explored “an underlying inter-connectedness” of all people. When asked if this work was “influenced by America’s increasingly diverse population”, he said, “Yes, I think the cultural terrain is changing as is my company’s focus. Somehow I feel that my aesthetic is embracing a much larger vision of humanity’s shared emotional journey.”

In November 2014 the Korean Cultural Center of Washington, DC presented an exhibition called “Ancestry, Artistry, Choreography” about Burgess, his immigrant ancestors, and his dance company that “document[ed] his multicultural background and its influence on his ballet-meets-contemporary work”. The exhibition featured family photographs and artifacts, including his grandfather’s 1903 passport, as well as 22 large photographs, costumes, props and video from the dance company’s 22-year history.

Burgess premiered Picasso Dances, a work inspired by four Picasso paintings at the Kreeger Museum, in March 2015 to critical acclaim. The piece was a result of a 3-month residency at the museum.

Burgess’s choreography has also been commissioned by Ballet Memphis and the Kennedy Center. His work “The Nightingale” toured to over 70 American cities.

Burgess’ work has focused on the immigrant experience and cultural divides, which has resulted in several of his performances being showcased on prominent State Department sponsored tours around the world. He has taught, lectured, performed and toured around the world in countries such as Surinam, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Korea, China, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Venezuela, Germany, Latvia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Peru, and Cambodia, among others.

In September 2015 he premiered “We choose to go to the moon”, a dance created in partnership with NASA and inspired by the space race and “humanity’s shared relationship with the cosmos” at the Kennedy Center. The tech-heavy and multimedia performance included interviews conducted by Burgess with astronauts (including Bruce McCandless), space scientists and experts, and a New Mexican medicine woman. The work received favorable reviews and significant press attention.

Burgess has taught at the Kirov Academy of Ballet and the Washington Ballet in Washington, D.C., the Hamburg Ballet in Germany, the National Ballet of Peru, San Marcos University in Peru, Sejong University in Korea, as well as in China, Mongolia, India, Jordan, and the British Virgin Islands, among others.

Burgess’ teaching career has also included George Mason University, Georgetown University, the University of Maryland and George Washington University. At 26 Burgess became Director of Georgetown University’s dance program in 1994. He began teaching at George Washington University in 2000, where he is currently Professor of Dance. Burgess designed and oversaw the implementation of a new, global distance and onsite learning MFA program for dance at the George Washington University in 2011. He chaired George Washington University’s Department of Theatre and Dance from 2009 to 2017.

He has served on the board of Asian American Arts and Media and was a commissioner for the Commission for the Arts and Humanities for the District of Columbia and as a commissioner for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affairs for Washington, DC.

Awards and recognitions
In 1994 he received the award for Outstanding Emerging Artist at the 12th Annual Mayor Arts Award Ceremony. His dance company was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in 2005. He has completed two senior Fulbright awards in dance and won seven Metro D.C. Dance Awards as well as the Pola Nirenska Award.

He has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution and was a prominent feature in the Smithsonian exhibition “A Korean American Century” as part of the Korean American Centennial Celebration in 2003.

In 2009 Burgess was featured in advertisements for the “New 202” campaign produced by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to highlight art and culture in the nation’s capital.

He has been referred to as the “poet laureate of Washington dance”.

In 2012 he was described as “not only a Washington prize, but a national dance treasure” by Pulitzer Prize winner Sarah Kaufman.

A Return to Pakistan – Mark Hildebrandt – Pakistan 2018

A Return to Pakistan – Mark Hildebrandt – Pakistan 2018

USEFP has been like family for over 14 years. It’s a wonderful program.

My first experience with USEFP in 2006 was a year of great scholarship juxtaposed with local political unrest. I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar hosted by Kathmandu University during a very turbulent year in Nepal. In the early part of 2006, strikes occurred frequently, shuttering businesses and universities all too often. Unfortunately, some of these strikes grew violent and Americans and their interests were threatened at times. While I never felt in danger personally, the situation grew dicey enough in April that the U.S. Ambassador to Nepal ordered all non-essential American citizens to leave Nepal as our security could not be guaranteed.

Fortunately for me, I had been invited to attend USEFP’s 3rd Annual Fulbright Alumni Conference in Islamabad in late April 2006, and USEFP was kind enough to host me at the conference. Their graciousness allowed me to “wait out” the mandatory evacuation from Nepal in Islamabad until conditions had stabilized enough for me to return to Kathmandu later in May.  While I was able to return to Nepal to complete my award successfully, I never forgot the vast kindness and feeling of fellowship that I experienced from the wonderful staff at USEFP.

Two of these staff members, Executive Director Rita Akhtar and Director Alumni Affairs Mazhar Awan, reconnected with me at the 2017 Fulbright Association Conference in Washington, DC.  They invited me to apply for the Fulbright Specialist Program through World Learning, and I was granted an award a mere 8 months later. The staff at USEFP arranged for the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad to serve as my host institution. While there, I gave several lectures and seminars on air quality, and I mentored a pair of graduate students on their graduate theses. Working alongside Dr. Salman Atif at NUST, I was able to develop a project that investigates issues of air quality and climate change in Islamabad, Lahore, and the surrounding region. I was the first American that many students at NUST had ever interacted with directly. Undergraduate and graduate students from NUST will be working alongside Dr. Atif and me as this project progresses, and we hope to develop a long-term exchange program between NUST and my home institution, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

I am grateful to USEFP for making this opportunity possible.

Mark Hildebrandt – Fulbright to Pakistan 2018

Building a Multilingual Community in Bolivia – The Fulbright Style – Monica Flores Rojas – Fulbright to USA 2007-2010

I can’t! (¡No puedo!)

Learning English is so difficult! (¡El inglés es muy difícil!)

I give up! I’m not built for this.  (Ya no puedo seguir. Esto no es para mí.)

These are some common phrases you hear from many individuals around the world and Bolivia, my home country, is no exception. Learning a language can indeed test your grit. I might have probably told myself the very same phrases back when I was learning English and French, so I am well-aware of all the obstacles and challenges that learning a language could pose to anyone. However, I am also knowledgeable of some of the possible solutions to such a problem, especially thanks to the Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) I completed on a Fulbright grant almost12 years ago. I heard of the Fulbright Program when I was an undergraduate majoring in Linguistics and Foreign Languages in Bolivia. Little did I know then this experience would have such a tremendous impact on my life. When I learned about Senator William Fulbright and the Fulbright Program, I realized that this program was meant for me to help Bolivians understand that learning English is an attainable goal that can take them further than they could have ever imagined. Senator William Fulbright aimed to build a global community that would promote mutual understanding and empathy among different cultures and this can only be done through language. This is the Fulbright style! To me English is the main means to achieve this courageous goal, but it is also important to promote other languages, especially in this era of conflict and misunderstanding among nations and individuals. This was why I decided to start an online community back in 2018. I created a private Facebook group under the name “GoMultilingualBolivia.” My main goal was to help my students find the motivation to keep going with their learning process because so many quit this endeavor due to lack of motivation. This private group shared information about language and culture through videos, articles, memes, etc. underscoring the importance of learning languages  and how this learning can open doors not only to better job opportunities, but also to educational and social growth. Soon, this small Facebook group turned into a bigger project and on October 25th, 2018 the official Facebook Fan Page was available to the public. Since then we have gotten more than 1400 followers. We have also created various video lessons about English pronunciation, vocabulary, and culture which are available on our YouTube channel. Then, one day I realized I was creating a community the way Senator Fulbright would have expected me to do and the best part was that I was doing it with my favorite people in this world: my students, both former and current. “Go Multilingual Bolivia” has been helping more than 1400 members to see the value of learning languages as well as understanding they are a means for mutual understanding. This is how we aim to help members of this community to develop an open mind towards other cultures and today’s world. Our virtual success also motivated us to organize free monthly in-person sessions to practice a variety of languages. This was carried out with the support of EducationUSA in La Paz and Universidad Privada Boliviana, a leading private university here in La Paz, Bolivia, and many volunteers.  In 2019, the US Embassy in La Paz awarded GoMultilingualBolivia a certificate of appreciation for our contribution to Bolivian youth’s education.

When the pandemic hit the entire world, GoMultilingualBolivia immediately thought of new approaches to support Bolivian youth’s education, especially because the Bolivian government had decided to cancel the school year. This is how our community started conducting Facebook live interviews with global citizens throughout 2020 and 2021. Our main goal was to help Bolivians learn more about other cultures while they were practicing their English skills. Culture, music, food, lifestyle, education, social and political problems, and languages were discussed in a friendly and fun manner since all interviewees were friends of mine. As a Fulbright grantee, I had the opportunity to make many friends from around the world and these friendships have continued throughout the years. This definitely helped us to carry out this new project. I interviewed 16 global citizens from all over the world including: Russia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Italy, Nigeria, South Korea, the United States, Belgium and many others. Some of the interviewees were also Fulbright grantees, and I feel Senator William Fulbright would have definitely seen this as a great achievement. All interviews have gotten over 6000 views and this number keeps growing as more Bolivians and people from other countries learn about our community. My Fulbright journey continues because I strongly believe it is possible to build a multilingual community that can open Bolivians’ hearts to other cultures and help them realize that learning a language is indeed a feasible goal if you count on a community that supports your dreams and goals.

Monica Flores Rojas – Fulbright to USA 2007-2010

Fulbright Changed My Life – Eugenie Trow – Netherlands 1966

Fulbright Changed My Life – Eugenie Trow – Netherlands 1966

Year: 1966-67, Amsterdam, Nederlands

Who I am:
Playwright.
Retired teacher of Theatre Arts and Math at a two-year college.

Why I went:
To study Intuitionistic Mathematics, found only at the University of Amsterdam. This mathematical theory advocates that we need to be suspicious about processes that repeat “forever,” since we can’t be there when it happens. It reminded me of my natural suspicion of the process “ad infinitum” when I had first heard about it.

Most eye opening:
How the Nederlands people are very aware of the world outside their own country – aware of all of Europe – the pan European world view that was soon to materialize in the European Union.

Most unexpected:
How many bicycles can be on a street at the same time; Ease of learning Nederlands (since I already knew German).

First thing I will do when I go back again:

Visit my student housing along the Groenburgwal canal.

Gifts from the year:
To learn what “old” really means –

To live in an old, remodeled warehouse along a canal; To immerse myself in the arts:

Visual arts (Van Gogh, Rembrandt, etc.), orchestra, dance, theatre close by in Amsterdam.

Eugenie Trow – Fulbright to Netherlands 1966

Pizza Party – Raymond Hogler – Italy 2007

Pizza Party – Raymond Hogler – Italy 2007

In 2007, I spent a semester teaching at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy. I understood at the outset that students were competent in English and I would be teaching in that language. It wasn’t quite so easy. My students generally didn’t speak any better English than I did Italian. It was a problem.

The solution  I arrived at had advantages for everyone. I would put up a powerpoint slide and talk about it in English. Two students who were fluent in English and Italian took turns translating.

For assignments, I asked for written essays on labor relations topics. I accepted both Italian and English responses, and I spent a great deal of time reading, correcting, and translating the answers. As a result, students gained some facility with English, and my Italian improved substantially.

Near the end of the semester, one of my colleagues told me the students had planned a “pizza party” for the class at a local restaurant. The evening was a true feast of pizza of all kinds. I later learned that each student in the course had contributed a fairly substantial sum for the event.

My experience in Italy was overwhelmingly positive. My students were responsive and appreciative of my efforts. We shared a joint effort with a high degree of interaction, and a moment of celebration at the end.

Raymond Hogler – Fulbright to Italy 2007

Fulbright and the Growth of a Professional Teachers’ Organization – Sally La Luzerne-Oi – Ukraine 1995 & 2007

Fulbright and the Growth of a Professional Teachers’ Organization – Sally La Luzerne-Oi – Ukraine 1995 & 2007

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Maryna Tsehelska and Sally La Luzerne-Oi at a Hawai’i TESOL event in Honolulu

My Fulbright experience in Ukraine during the 1995-1996 academic year provided many special moments and memories, but the most enduring one was helping to organize a professional organization for teachers of English. One of my tasks while teaching English classes for English majors at Vinnytsia Pedagogical Institute (now a university) was to assist faculty there who wanted to establish a Ukrainian affiliate of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association. That year a draft constitution and by-laws, a newsletter, and a conference all made their debut for this new professional English teachers’ organization, and TESOL Ukraine was eventually granted affiliate status.

Upon returning to my teaching position at Hawai‘i Pacific University in Honolulu, I again attended meetings and events held by Hawai‘i TESOL. When the TESOL International Association encouraged American affiliates to consider forming partnerships with international affiliates, I suggested Hawaii TESOL and TESOL Ukraine partner. Board members of both affiliates agreed. Hawai‘i TESOL and TESOL Ukraine signed an official Partnership Agreement in 2002. The affiliates exchange newsletter articles and when possible members meet at the annual TESOL Convention.

Then Hawai‘i Pacific University hosted Ukrainian Fulbright Scholar, Maryna Tsehelska, Dean of the English Department at Kryvi Rih University, during the 2005-2006 academic year. Besides doing research, Maryna took part in every Hawai‘i TESOL event and enlivened the partnership.  She is currently the Vice-President of TESOL Ukraine and the Ukrainian liaison for the Hawai‘i TESOL/TESOL Ukraine Partnership.

In 2007, I received a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant to Ukraine to give workshops on teaching academic writing. At that time, I was able to connect and reconnect with many of the hard-working dedicated teachers who continue to support TESOL Ukraine and its mission of providing professional development opportunities for English teachers across Ukraine.

I am happy to write that TESOL Ukraine continues on and has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary!

Sally La Luzerne-Oi – Fulbright to Ukraine 1995 & 2007

From 0 to 1 – Servio Palacios – Indiana, USA 2013

I am from a tiny town in Honduras; this town is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization. I am the first Ph.D. in Computer Science (CS) from this region (Copan Ruinas). Copan Ruinas is a United Nations World Heritage site renowned for the hieroglyphic staircase, stellae, and museum. The Mayans invented the Zero independently around 4 AD; therefore, it was logical, since we invented half of the Computer Science building blocks, to study a Ph.D. in CS at Purdue University.

I started my studies at Purdue via a Fulbright Scholarship. I got my Fulbright scholarship because of my background. For instance, I studied at the biggest public high school institution (Instituto Central Vicente Caceres), where many underprivileged students are educated. To put in perspective, many people in that institution have to walk miles to attend classes or live with under $100.00 a month (being optimistic here) in an average family of 5. Then, I was the top student in this high school earning a scholarship to study in a private university (UNITEC). Studying at UNITEC was entirely out of my league since I do not have the financial resources to pay for the tuition or the expenses related to my education. With a significant effort from my parents, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering without even having a computer or the money to buy books.

Public institutions in Honduras do not provide a second language education, i.e., I had to learn English on my own to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship. Hence, I learned English by myself, and I obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Purdue University.

In Honduras, there are no programs in Computer Science that involve research at the division I research (R1) institution level. In a university such as Purdue, that background knowledge is taken for granted. However, the whole concept or process of publications, papers, etc., was out of my perspective. My favorite accomplishment as a Fulbrigther includes obtaining a Ph.D. in Computer Science, despite my early disadvantage in research and self-taught English.

The Fulbright program allowed me to discover and embrace my inner personality as an introvert and accomplish things I have never imagined through exposure to a diverse set of people from different cultures and backgrounds. It was an ineffable experience.

As a Fulbrighter, I intend that my contributions to the Computer Science and Engineering field can serve other underprivileged to take the leap towards a brighter future through a Fulbright scholarship.

Servio Palacios – Fulbright to Indiana, USA 2013

The Shakers and Tagore Dance – Leslie Friedman – India 1984

The Shakers and Tagore Dance – Leslie Friedman – India 1984

     December, 1983. I arrived in India, a Fulbright Lecturer affiliated with Viswa Bharati University, West Bengal. It is Nobel Prize poet Tagore’s university. Mrs Das Gupta from Fulbright/Calcutta took me to the train to Santineketan. A gorgeous carriage met me. Dance Department Directors, men in colorful, exquisite costumes, greeted me as though I were an ambassador from another world. They departed in their carriage.

     I thought I would teach, perform, or observe Tagore style dance classes. No invitations came. I learned the dance gurus were protecting their students and Tagore’s art from me.  After a few days, four art students approached me. They wanted to know what I do, what my music is, would I dance there? Students of graphic design, textiles, writing, they were irate that I came from around the world but they would not see my work. The writer asked what I needed to do a show. Did I have music? Yes, on cassettes. They could find a cassette player. Costumes? In my backpack. Space? I paced a space in the dusty ground. They walked me to the print studio. Could I do it there? Sure.

      They posted announcements across the campus. They told me when to arrive. They seized the building.

     Students sitting on the floor filled the room. As I danced, I saw faces in open windows. Unable to squeeze inside, students stood on boxes to watch through windows. The program went smoothly. When I began my dance, Johannes Kepler’s Dream, the lights went out. Boom box batteries kept playing music, so I kept dancing. Then, lights appeared like twinkling stars as students turned on flashlights. The costume was a champagne colored dress with a flowing lace covering.  A turn allowed me to see the concrete back wall where flashlights cast swirling shadows of lace. It seemed I was flying. The students went wild with applause and pride that they had saved the program. The student producers were immensely pleased by their success and the serendipity of lace and light.

     Invited to return to Viswa Bharati near the end of my trip, I wondered if I would see the art students. They were there. We went for a ride on a bullock pulled cart. As I traveled to perform and teach, I had studied Tagore. This time at Viswa Bharati I performed and talked about my dance on a raised platform before a giant audience. The dance gurus beamed approval. I heard they felt they had seen the living spirit of dance in my previous presentation. Our different arts had permeated each other. I quoted a Tagore poem about art. I described Martha Graham’s work, Appalachian Spring, and the Shaker Hymn which Aaron Copeland incorporated into his score. I recited part of the song knowing that I had “come down where I ought to be.” The writer, racing onto the platform, said he loved my dance, the music, and the Shaker Hymn. I gave him the cassette; I keep glowing memories.

Leslie Friedman – Fulbright to India 1984

The Intersections of Graphic Design and Architecture – Vincent Robbins – Honduras 2009

The Intersections of Graphic Design and Architecture – Vincent Robbins – Honduras 2009

My Fulbright experience in Honduras at CEDAC, Centre for Design, Architecture and Construction, in 2009, was a memorable one. It is among the top 5 educational institutions of the country and I held workshops there for two weeks for local Architects and  Graduate Students. Many of the participants were studying Graphic Design. A total of thirty seven individuals participated. The administrators and many others were very enthusiastic and gracious. There was a big interest in refining the intersections of architecture and graphic design. We developed work which featured two dimensional imaging that developed into a three dimensional finish. The individual projects were mailed, and when received, the recipients opened and folded the final pieces into a three dimensional form, a form that related to architecture. I also gave a presentation and a talk about Design Education. I based most of my presentation with a focus on creative problem solving. Most of my experience came from my past work with notables from the field of design, such as Charles Eames, Louis Danziger Raymond Loewy, and my time as Head of Gaphic Design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I presented a show of fine art prints, that I had created with an experimental use of typography, at both their main campus in the capital city of  Tegucigalpa and at their campus in San Pedro Sula. While I was in Tegucigalpa, I was invited to attend an event hosted by the U.S. State Department and met many political and educational leaders from several countries. I also visited several studios while I was there. What I learned from this experience is how creative individuals survived and worked under very difficult conditions.

Vincent Robbins – Fulbright to Honduras 2009

French-styled student strikes in francophone Africa – Daphne Ntiri – Burkina Faso 2015

French-styled student strikes in francophone Africa – Daphne Ntiri – Burkina Faso 2015

It was my second time experiencing a student strike just at the beginning of the semester when I was supposed to start teaching. My very first experience with student strikes was at the University of Djibouti and this strike  lasted for a couple of weeks and it came to an end with the intervention of the spouse of the President of the country who offered to address student demands with respect to better campus services. In 2015 however, on a Fulbright to the University of Ouagadougou, the student strike was more prolonged. It was close to a month and with limited acquaintances, living life in a foreign country presented urgent concerns. The saving grace to this experience was the support to f the faculty and administration of the Department of English and African American Studies giving firm reassurances that this was a common expression of students about their dissatisfaction with aspects of campus life but teaching and learning will follow in a short while. And it did. Following weeks of student strikes and no class attendance, thousands of students setlled their grievances and returned to class ready to learn.

This strike and extended strike practice is uncommon in American and British influenced institutions and this is why one is taken aback when confronted with it.

Daphne Ntiri – Fulbright to Burkina Faso 2015

Neurophysiology – Robert Rice Young – Australia 1956

Neurophysiology – Robert Rice Young – Australia 1956

I went to the ANU in Canberra to spend a year getting an introduction to Neurophysiology from Professor J.C. Eccles who went on to become Sir John Eccles, Nobel Laureate. He was using microelectrodes to study the fine details of the behavior of single nerve cells in the spinal cord of cats. I returned to Harvard University to spend the rest of my academic life in Neurology and Neurophysiology, using microelectrodes to record from human muscles, peripheral nerves, and eventually from cells deep within  the brains of patients with Parkinson’s Disease and similar disorders to permit effective treatment of their symptoms. I also became very fond of Australia.

Robert Rice Young – Fulbright to Australia 1956

Thank You for My Italian Year – Anya Farion – Italy 1988

Being awarded a Fulbright Grant to carve marble for a year in the town of Pietrasanta, Italy was a dream come true for a sculptor like myself. The situation was ideal; one was able to learn from and be inspired by the Italian craftsmen and the international community of artists who come from around the world to work there. And the proximity to centuries of Italian art to view in Florence and many other nearby cities – it was at once exhilarating and inspiring. So much to study and attempt to absorb.

An important part of the experience entailed a trip, or in my case, several trips to the marble quarries high above the town, including the quarry discovered by Michelangelo atop Mount Altissimo in the Apuan Alps where one could marvel at the source of the white marble and the process of its excavation.

My year was almost over when I received an invitation to the 40th year anniversary celebration of the Fulbright Program in Italy to be held in Sienna. Among the guests was to be none other than Senator Fulbright himself. I traveled there hoping to convey my experiences over the past year to him and explain how much it meant to me. What a thrill it was as an artist to be able to live and work in Italy for a year. I was so immensely grateful and wanted to be sure to thank the man responsible for this incredible program. Finally the day arrived. I went to Sienna, attended the reception, listened to the panel and the speeches and after the banquet approached Senator Fulbright, but all I could manage to say was a heartfelt “thank you for my Italian year, Senator Fulbright”.

Anya Farion – Fulbright to Italy 1988

Shared Wonder – Mark Liang – Macau 2019

Macau is a city of contradictions. It’s both a glittery casino hub across the bay from Hong Kong and an old colonial peninsula crammed with Portuguese churches. French Michelin-star restaurants sit side by side with cafes selling $1 milk teas brewed in pantyhose. Busses announce stops in four languages. It’s a vibrant city of immigrants who built skyscrapers and towers out of a quiet fishing village.

Amidst all the challenges of 2019-2020, the people of Macau welcomed me in with open arms. Students laughed in good fun at my shaky Cantonese but took the time to introduce me to the best parts of the city. They showed me where you could find fresh lychees and which casino restaurants were overpriced (hint: nearly all of time). I met people from Brazil, England, Beijing, Portugal, and elsewhere, all bound together by a shared wonder for this place that we found ourselves in. We came out in times of celebration to watch Grand Prixs and Dragon Boat races… in times of fear, we lined up to collect face masks and reached out to friends and colleagues to offer our support.

Cities are not just defined by place, by the curve of some harbor or the line of arbitrary borders. Cities are just as much defined by their people, and I’m so grateful for the Fulbright giving me the opportunity to learn about Macau’s pride, challenges, and beauty from its residents.

Mark Liang – Fulbright to Macau 2019

20th Independence Day in North Macedonia – Cassidy Henry – Macedonia 2011

I arrived in country three days before the celebration of the 20th independence day for North Macedonia in 2011.  They had pulled out all the stops- military parade in the morning, activities all day long, followed by a star studded concert at night.  My roommate, my language professor, and I went down to the square to see the festivities. It was exciting to be in such a celebratory mood- to see people so happy to be celebrating their independence. Most of those on the square had been born before the split up of Yugoslavia, so they had memories.  There were singers and traditional dances. There were fireworks and speeches. The crowd just felt alive. The party lasted well into the wee morning hours. People were excited to come together and celebrate independence day, regardless of ethnicity.

Cassidy Henry – Fulbright to Macedonia 2011

Eagle in Mongolia – Jay Nathan – Mongolia 2008

Eagle in Mongolia – Jay Nathan – Mongolia 2008

Jay Nathan 2008 Mongolia Fulbright Scholar-1084b529After a class-room lecture, I was surprised by my host-professor, who said, “I am driving you to an interesting place in a mountain.” He did not say much, until we got near to a man, who happens to be an eagle-trainer.  We saw him just let go of his eagle.

Then, I saw the eagle chasing a fox running for its life, and it is no match for the eagle; it finally succumbed to the agility of its prey.

What a sight! After that, my colleague suggested that I take a photo with the same eagle and I could not keep the eagle too long in my hand, since it weighed at least sixty pounds.

Jay Nathan – Fulbright to Mongolia 2008

Paris 1968-1969: Student Strikes – Michael DeLucia – France 1968

My Fulbright to Paris was 50 years ago, during the chaotic period 1968-1969. My year began with the student strikes that swept Paris, that undermined the government and ended with the resignation of Charles de Gaulle as President. For me, it was a momentous year. I met my wife Alice, a graduate student from Middlebury College, in Paris. Paris was also where I began my life-long fascination with photography: student demonstrations, Parisian workers, children in the Luxembourg Gardens, and daily life in the city.

While I did research daily inside the National Archives for my Ph.D., history was being written outside those walls with students and workers demonstrating and the police responding in force. Coincidently, my dissertation topic was the French working class and the First World War. Reaching the National Archives meant a daily morning walk through the Latin Quarter, past Notre Dame Cathedral, past the magnificent Hotel de Ville, and past the book stalls along the Seine. I saw Paris in the morning, in the evening, in the autumn, in the snow, in springtime and on Bastille Day. I even descended underground to marvel at the archeological history of the city 2.000 years past.

Paris introduced me to opera – or, more precisely, the Opera Garnier with its Chagall murals. I was at the opera almost every Wednesday evening, watching La Traviata, or Rigoletto; or at the Opera Comique, watching La Boheme. Alice, my future wife, introduced me to the Impressionists, to Medieval and Renaissance art, and to the magic of the city.

It was in Paris, at the U.S. Embassy, where I voted in my first Presidential election via absentee ballot (a write-in vote for Senator Robert Kennedy, assassinated months earlier).

Despite the upheavals, the National Archives remained open and I finished the research for my dissertation. But the Fulbright experience was not finished with me. In 1970, at Brown University, along with dozens of other students, I watched Senator Fulbright’s pivotal hearings into the Indochina wars. And, in 1993, I was elected President of the Fulbright Association and presented the very first Fulbright Prize to Nelson Mandela.

In retrospect, Paris was a gift to a young man eager to see other societies and ready to appreciate centuries of history. I have visited Paris many times since the student riots of 1968-1969 and I always retrace my steps to the National Archives. However, on my last visit (2019), because of the fire that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral, I could not retrace those steps. Instead, I walked to the outer edge of the Latin Quarter and discovered the impressive Grand Mosque de Paris.

For me, Paris is both a museum, filled with intense memories, and an old friend, helping you to discover parts of the city you had not explored before.

Michael DeLucia – Fulbright to France 1968

In Memoriam: Maria Bentel

In Memoriam: Maria Bentel

Maria Azzarone Bentel grew up in Queens, New York City and attended Hunter College High School. She went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed the Bachelor of Architecture program in 1951 as one of four females in her class.

After graduation, she received a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for 1952-1953 and studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arte in Venice. As a Fulbright she also traveled extensively throughout Europe and often spoke about the influence her Fulbright experience had on her architecture and teaching.

In 1957, she founded Bentel & Bentel with her husband Frederick, also a Fulbrighter, overseeing a studio for more than 40 years responsible for an impressive number of award-winning projects, including residences, religious buildings and several community and academic facilities. In recognition of her achievement in the profession of Architecture, Maria was inducted into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 1976.

As an educator, Professor Bentel, served on the Faculty of the New York Institute of Technology from 1977 to 1999. As a professor to many aspiring designers, she was known for demanding intellectual rigor and critical thinking while actively mentoring students as they transitioned from student to professional life.

As both an educator and practitioner, Maria Bentel, FAIA, was a role model and a consummate professional. She inspired many, and through her actions and through her architecture, she left the world a far better place.

Written by John di Domenico in honor of his late friend and colleague