The Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy

The Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy

“The Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy”, virtual event with Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering

January 12, 2021

“The Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy”, a virtual conversation with Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering was hosted by the Fulbright Association took place on January 12, 2021. The conversation was moderated by Manfred Philipp and featured introductory remarks from Richard T. Arndt.

Ambassador Pickering focused his remarks on the role of exchange programs in influencing and empowering American diplomacy. He began with addressing his own personal experience as a young exchange student in Australia. Ambassador Pickering reflected on his research into the post-World War II Australian foreign policy experience and on the benefits of learning about how non-Americans think about foreign policy and economic issues. This formative experience provided an introduction to the lift of diplomacy which he had not anticipated. Ambassador Pickering also reflected on how this experience helped his begin to understand the importance of the bulwark of U.S. diplomacy that scholar Joe Nye would eventually come to refer to as “soft power”. The exchange experience also helped him forge lasting friendships with future statesmen.

The second portion of his remarks focused on how exchange programs can contribute to broader U.S. diplomacy efforts. In particular, Ambassador Pickering emphasized how they help one figures out how countries related to and understand each other by providing insights, information, knowledge, and mutual understanding that otherwise would not have been possible.

Ambassador Pickering concluded his opening remarks on the need for the United States to turn the corner isolationism to engagement and the leading role that exchange programs can play in this regard. He suggested that the new Biden administration has an opportunity to expand existing and open up new exchange programs in both directions, including bringing in countries that currently don’t have any programs, developing local commissions to expand existing programs, and looking for new ways to fund them. In terms of the Fulbright Program, he suggested that Congress should appropriate funds that could eventually become part of a self-funded endowment managed by a public-private investment partnership. These funds could be used on an annual basis to match particularly successful and innovative programs with privately raised fund in order to promote new ways of investing in exchange programs. Although there is a need to be respectful of other needs for government funding at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ambassador Pickering suggested that pursuing Congress to do more should remain a priority. He also proposed organizing an annual meeting between different exchange programs to exchange lessons and best practices and unique approaches and ideas.

During the Q&A, Ambassador Pickering remarked that the United States should not give up on pursuing exchange programs with China, reflecting on his own experience early in his career

dealing with China on scientific exchange. Remarking that the U.S. has always “had good friends in Hong Kong”, he strongly cautioned against cutting of Hong Kong residents from exchange programs and urged the Biden administration to “quickly reopen” the Fulbright program with Hong Kong. He also urged the U.S. to “pursue and strengthen” student exchanges with China, noting that the U.S. should still try to serve as an inspiration to the Chinese for freedom and democracy.

To promote new exchange programs, he suggested that the U.S. create a new specific fund to make money available to help match funding with foreign governments that can jointly finance such programs. In response to a question about how to deal with the lack of diversity in exchange programs, Ambassador Pickering stressed the need to use government funding to partner with local groups that can assist with reaching out to diverse communities to better communicate what exchange program opportunities are available.

-Erik Brattberg, a board member of the National Capital Area Chapter.

The event was co-organized by the Connecticut and National Capital Area Chapters of the Fulbright Association, the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the Belle Zeller Scholarship Fund, the CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences, and the US Alumni Association of the German Academic Exchange Service.

Additional information about this event is available on the Calendar Event Page

Watch a recording of the event below:

New Beginnings: What a Calendar Can Offer

New Beginnings: What a Calendar Can Offer

The start of a new year can lead us to consider new beginnings and recommit us to pursuing important career goals. But an actual calendar can cause us to feel constricted or empowered. It can point out how little time we have or show the boundlessness of what is before us.

The year 2021 will offer us 12 months, 52 weeks, and 365 days. (You can compute the hours and minutes on your own). The coming year can be ordered, prioritized, and divided as we wish. Now might be the time to think about what the year could look like, recognizing that circumstances change at a moment’s notice, and that the pandemic will continue to keep things in slow motion. For Americans, it should not go unnoticed that we are now led by a new president whose goals and aims relative to international education and global affairs are expected to be significantly different than that of the previous president. This will affect many of us in our work, travel, and international engagement.

Planning can be viewed in different ways. At one level, it can constitute a detailed scheduling of objectives, goals, and events assigned to expected dates when they might be accomplished. Some need and even crave this type of planning. Checklists and worksheets are necessary for them to feel they are moving forward. I tend to think that way. An electronic calendar like that found on Google has been a godsend to the way I plan.

Others find this type of planning off-putting and maybe even oppressive. For them, planning is more in the nature of visioning and thinking about the big picture of things that can be done. They are not tied so much to specific outcomes but rather to an awareness of moving forward without the necessity of keeping a running tally. For them, they might use a calendar as providing some notional framing and think “By the beginning of spring, I might be focusing on jobs overseas” looking to the seasons as a guide rather than specific dates. They might take their muse from the often-inspirational photography that a wall calendar can include.

Each demands time to reflect and consider what is doable and possible in the coming year. Though we can’t predict with certainty in January what our situation will be in July, we can assess some things. We might have a good sense of upcoming expenses. Or we will know where we will be living. Or know certain application deadlines that we need to anticipate. Ultimately, using a calendar involves merging the detail and the visioning. Deadlines for applications must be met and noted and planned for. On the other hand, we can’t really schedule time for the inspiration that spring might bring.

In 2021, use your calendar to optimize the way you plan. Make checklists if you need to. For some an electronic calendar with notifications works, but others are old school and like to write it down. But don’t dismiss the power in being open to using a calendar to spur on deep thinking and ignite your imagination for good things to come.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

Niharika Kulshresth – Oregon, USA 2011

Niharika Kulshresth – Oregon, USA 2011

The letter I got in the month of June 2011 from the J William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, besides congratulating me for my selection also went on to inform me that, as a Fulbrighter, I joined the ranks of some 261,000 alumni of the programme who have gone on to become heads of states, judges, ambassadors, CEOs, journalists, educational leader, etc. and have been awarded 34 Nobel prizes. My sense of achievement and elation was at its peak!

There was no way we were going to be sent to U.S.A. unprepared. We had rigorous, exhaustive and extensive Workshops and pre-departure orientations. Online discussion forums were set up for all of us, 70 Fulbright exchange teachers from all across the globe. We had workshops in Goa. Washington DC and a mid-exchange in Boston. The issues covered were endless- effective teaching learning strategies, classroom management, student motivation, crossing the culture, interacting with parents and more. We had some wonderfully educative lectures/ presentations by experts and resource persons. On the on-line forum, all of us teachers shared best teaching practices, motivational tools, cultural differences and classroom management strategies.

To be able to teach in the state of Oregon, you are required to get a teacher’s license after getting your credentials endorsed by Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). A Process which normally would have taken three months was expedited for me thanks to my Fulbright recommendations.

My host school was Health and Science School (HS2) in Beaverton, Oregon which was following one of the latest models of learning-Expeditionary Learning (EL). I also attended the orientation program of the school and was exposed to some innovative trends in teaching and assessment. I was provided a constant support of a mentor teacher as well as that of a special education teacher.

I found the classrooms in USA to be extremely structured and student friendly. The issues of teenage problems, discipline and behaviour are very effectively handled in an extremely professional manner. The teachers were trained and restrained enough to deal with any discipline problems through appropriate choice of words. I rarely saw a grown-up losing self-control in front of the students. One of the methods involved not sounding accusatory, using more ‘I s’ than ‘You s’ while confronting a difficult student. For example instead of telling the student “You were distracting the class”, the appropriate choice of words included being direct and telling him “I was distracted by your behaviour. Please don’t repeat it”. This did not put the student on defensive and most of the times the confrontation was amicably settled. The self-discipline of the students and involvement of the teachers really impressed me.

Teaching in the US was the best professional development opportunity I have ever had. Their educational system is different and sometimes even better than our own. Science teaching followed the Discovery method. Instead of being taught a concept and performing experiments on it, like we do in India, the curriculum facilitated the students to discover the concepts through experiments designed by teachers. Students were given hand-outs and then left to perform the activity on their own. The teacher just facilitated the learning. It was a challenge for me to come up to the expectations of my host school. In the process, I learnt new teaching practices like designing experiments for the topic being taught; making thought provoking worksheets and reflected on my own methodologies. I could compare and contrast the two educational systems to evolve a new one. While our education system is more theory based and we rely a lot on text books, the American system relies more on activities and hand-outs designed by teachers. What amused me were the students using calculators even for some simple numerical calculations. The students were very creative but lacked curiosity and presentation skills. A very encouraging attitude of the staff and a supportive one of my students made the exchange an enormously true learning experience for me.

Personally also, the exchange opened my eyes to a range of possibilities. I felt more independent and took some great risks. The consequences at times were overwhelmingly challenging, but made me emerge a stronger person.

My children had a wonderful learning experience. We forged new friendships, learnt to live in a new culture and celebrated all their festivals with equal gaiety. Be it Halloween, Navratras, Diwali, Thanksgiving or Christmas- we didn’t miss any opportunity to make merry. We explored museums, libraries, harvest markets, pumpkin patch, berry-picking, public transport systems, and entertainment parks- at times on foot to save a few bucks. We imbibed American culture by going to free Operas by the park, symphony orchestra by the riverfront and other music festivals. Portland is rightfully called ‘The Culture Capital of Oregon’.

In retrospection, taking kids along was a wise step on my part. Kids are a spontaneous and an expeditious bridge to a new culture. It might have been a little setback to our finances, but a great investment into the memories of my children. Everyone that we came across was ready to help us explore the American way of living. We had no dearth of friends, or outdoor activities to do on a weekend.

Not that we didn’t face loneliness, insecurity and vulnerability at times, but we took it in our stride. We had gone for the exchange with very few expectations and a lot of hope. I rediscovered my love for teaching, my kids discovered a culture and we came back enriched with an experience and friends to last us for a lifetime.


-Niharika Kulshresth

Fulbright Exchange Teacher to Oregon, USA in 2011

Gennady Filimonov – England 1986

Gennady Filimonov – England 1986

Gennady with Yfrah Neaman in Fontainbleau – 1985

Gennady in London – 1986

My Fulbright journey began in the summer of 1985, a year before I received my grant, when I was a scholarship student at Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau where I met the eminent Prof. Neaman. He was an enormous inspiration. The summer experience of private lessons, solo performances as well as chamber music performances with great colleagues and faculty at the Fontainebleau Chateau was unforgettable. We developed an excellent working relationship, and he encouraged me to come to London, where I could further my studies with him in an intense program “The Advanced Solo Studies Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama” after completing my Masters of Music at Manhattan School of Music. That summer was made extra special for me, as I also met my future wife in Fontainebleau (whom I married nine years later).

Gennady in Sintra – 1989

I was overwhelmed when I was notified about winning the grant. I remember how fortunate and lucky I felt of such a privilege to represent my country which enabled me to fulfil my dream of furthering my studies with Yfrah Neaman. I even received congratulations letters from the Senator and Governor of New York State. It was a culmination of hard work and great dreams which began for me in Odessa, Ukraine (formerly USSR) when I was seven years old at the School of Stolyarski (school for gifted children). I was now a very proud naturalized American and a Fulbright Recipient.

Prof. Neaman was a man of great integrity and encouraged us (his students) to be true to style, musical details, and honesty in music and in life. He advocated for the violinist as artist rather than merely a virtuoso. He carried on an important legacy of Carl Flesch and Max Rostal with whom he studied. Prof. Neaman taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1958 until his death in 2003, first as Professor of Violin, then as Head of Advanced Solo Studies. He was also Artistic Director of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition from 1968 to 1990. He was also instrumental in the launch of the Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition in 1979 (from 1988 the London International String Quartet Competition), of which he was joint artistic director with Yehudi Menuhin.

Gennady playing trios with Clive Greensmith – 1987

The lessons were in masterclass format where we as students performed in front of each other for Prof. Neaman. His class was comprised of top-notch players from all over the world, many of whom were already major competition winners and today they are soloists, professors, chamber musicians, a list of “Who’s Who in Music”. It was a remarkable atmosphere. I learned to appreciate many different genres and styles of music and realized that there are many possibilities in having a successful career in music.

I was lucky to share a house with my good friend and fellow student of Prof. Neaman, Sung-Sic Yang (a 1st prize winner of Carl Flesch competition, Lipizer and Paganini), whom I had met at Fontainebleau and another fellow Fulbright recipient Dileep Gangoli (clarinetist), who was coming from the Seattle Symphony (which became my orchestra eight years later). It was a time of intense study in violin and composition, filled with soirees of chamber music and visits to the Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall seeing great concerts.

Gennady with Marius May – 1988

The experience allowed me to forge lasting friendships with people who are now on top of their professions, and opened opportunities to performances in Germany, France, England and led to participation in chamber music festivals in United States and Portugal, a place I adore, and a festival I participated in for seven years at the scenic city of Sintra.

Also, these formative experiences later led to solo performances with Kensington Philharmonic of London, Carmel Bach Festival, New York Symphonic Ensemble tour of Japan and South East Asia, Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra (Odessa, Ukraine) and Seattle Symphony.

Gennady with Marius May Sintra – 1989

Upon my return, I started a career as a prolific studio recording artist. To date, I have performed in over 850 soundtracks including Heart’s The Road Home album, Dave Matthews Band, and award winning movie scores such as “Revenant” among many others. My film appearances include an award-winning motion picture FAME, and the premiere episode of The Equalizer.

I have also been soloist/concertmaster in collaboration with Rod Stewart, Linda Rondstatt, Tony Bennett, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Heart and many others. I was also a member of NY Chamber Symphony and Mostly Mozart Festival. I am a member of Seattle Symphony Orchestra since 1994, a founding member of the ODEONQUARTET with which I toured Russia (twice), Ukraine and Saint Martin in the Caribbean, owner of Filimonov Fine Violins, Expert/Appraiser and I am also a writer/contributor for STRAD magazine and Tarisio’s Carteggio Section. I am an extremely fortunate and proud Fulbright Scholar. Thank you Fulbright Association.


Gennady Filimonov

Fulbrighter to England 1986-1987

Advanced Violin Solo studies course with the eminent Yfrah Neaman OBE at Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London, England)

2021 – 75th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program

2021 – 75th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program

Happy 2021!  This year marks 75 years of the Fulbright Program, 75 years of building friendships across borders to make the world more peaceful. We will be celebrating this important anniversary with many programs throughout the year.


But why wait?  You can get involved right now.  Here are 10 suggestions.


  1. Help your chapter plan digital programs such as a speaker series, art performance, poetry reading or film discussion. As conditions allow, they will be planning 75th Anniversary events in the fall. They need your idea, energy and help!
  2. Start a new chapter.  Our 55 chapters are thriving, even during a pandemic, but we don’t have chapters in 15 states, or yours may be too far away. So start one yourself! You can also become a leader in an existing chapter.
  3. Volunteer for Fulbright in the Classroom (FIC) to share your stories and knowledge in K-12 and college classrooms, focusing on under-represented communities. Keep an eye out for a new FIC grant program and a call for volunteers.
  4. Participate in Advocacy Month in April, where you’ll share you experiences (remotely) with members of Congress, ensuring the future of Fulbright. Registration will start soon.
  5. Sign a petition and/or send a letter to the new Congress, making sure they hear the many voices of Fulbrighters from every district and state.  (See our Toolkit here.)
  6. Tell your Fulbrighter friends to become members of the Fulbright Association—we need their support to power our programs and mission. Promote membership to your college or university too!
  7. Propose and give a presentation, panel and/or poster at our Annual Conference, scheduled in Washington DC in October.  (See more on our 2020 Conference here, and look for the Call for Proposals.)
  8. Attend the Conference, TEDxFulbright (in August), Fulbright Prize, and regular Fulbright Forums (webinars on international issues) to learn and connect.
  9. Submit your photos and stories to celebrate the 75th!  (More on this later)
  10. Follow us on social media, where you’ll find stories and photos throughout the year.


Contact or visit for more information and support.  Thanks!

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

I’m not a mixologist or a barista. The only two ingredients I can combine easily are a bottled beverage and ice. But there are people who have innate talent or by training have the ability to create brews that are pleasing to the taste.

Lemons by their nature are sour and for many not so pleasing to the taste, unless sweetened with sugar, as is done with lemonade. The expression making lemons into lemonade suggests the skill to take a bad a situation and improve it, make it a redeeming one, or at least learn from it. As a parent, I’ve reminded my children that even bad circumstances can offer something to teach us.

We might agree then that 2020 has been a big year for lemons. But have we been able to make lemonade?

Upping Your Tech Skills

Did you ever expect to be a Zoom expert? Maybe you are still not quite comfortable with the new means for meeting, be it Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, or Google Hangouts. It has been a steep learning curve for some. But we have learned to chat, raise our hand, and clap virtually. If you are thinking that after the pandemic we will go back to the old ways, think again. Because so many now enjoy and see the benefits of working from home, virtual meetings are here to stay. And how about interviewing virtually? Have you done that in 2020? If so, you’ve probably also learned to create a virtual background and set up your room lighting correctly.

Networking in Virtual Ways

For those of us who enjoy getting out and about making new friends and meeting colleagues, this has been a challenging and unsatisfying year. But, if you are an introvert, maybe the year has been a bit better for you? If you are not the glad-handing type, meeting (virtually), and just basic connecting has been easier and maybe is now within your comfort zone. LinkedIn now has some 700 million active users. Also, the ease in attending conferences and conventions has never been better (and in most cases, cheaper).

Allowing for More Introspection and Visioning

This past year has more certainly allowed us more time to ourselves. Even if you have “bubbled up” with your family or with friends, you still have had more time to yourself. Between Netflix and learning to bake, there has been more time to reflect on your professional life. Have you taken advantage of this time? Has the reflection allowed you to evaluate the type of meaning and purpose you are seeking in work and in your personal life? Has this led to a vision of what you might be doing the future? And what is necessary for you to accomplish that dream?

Planning for a post-COVID World

More introspection might lead to more planning. There have been many things that one could do to advance a career this year: applying online, taking virtual courses, and networking through LinkedIn. But this also has given us a chance to think about what we might do when the pandemic ends. With vaccine distribution starting soon, thinking about how to get back into the game come next summer is important. If you haven’t had a chance to plan, use the colder winter months when you will be inside because of the weather, but also because of the increased concern for COVID spreading, to develop a strategic plan for yourself that includes physical networking.

Taking Care of Yourself and Others

Taking care of yourself and others is important right now. We have been given a chance (if we took it) to focus on our physical and mental health. Have you made an effort to get more exercise? Eat better? Meditate? Have you made more efforts to stay connected with family and friends? There has been much isolation as a result of the pandemic. If you feel isolated, rather than wait for someone to reach out to you, you reach out! The psychological benefits are often immediate and powerful. And if reaching out can support your career networking, then you have the added benefit of creating a connection to someone to help advance your career.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful end of a year like no other! Hopefully, you were able to make some lemonade (or at least a nice lemon meringue pie) with your lemons. Keep baking and looking forward to 2021.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

Tim Perry – South Africa 2002

Tim Perry – South Africa 2002

An Ordinary Country?

Langa Township, Human Rights Day, Tim Perry interacts with students

When we close the books on 2020, it will be measured not just in tragic loss of life to covid-19, but by a summer of Black Lives Matter protests, and the continued decline of democracy worldwide. Amid these trends, my thoughts have turned to the late Dr. Neville Alexander, the anti-Apartheid activist and political prisoner, who supervised my Fulbright year. He was a man who knew something about protest and democracy.

Dr. Neville Alexander, by Jummai – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A “coloured” intellectual, Dr. Alexander grew up in rural Eastern Cape, attended the University of Cape Town, and traveled abroad to the University of Tübingen for his PhD. Rather than live the life of a European academic, he returned to South Africa in the early 1960s to join the anti-Apartheid movement. In 1963, after the authorities infiltrated two activist groups he had founded, Dr. Alexander was convicted of conspiracy to commit sabotage, and imprisoned, alongside Nelson Mandela and others, on Robben Island.

By the time I met Dr. Alexander, South Africa was still in its first decade of democracy, but he hadn’t shed his dissident’s outlook. A committed Marxist, he vocally criticized the ANC for neglecting the poor, not to mention its “superstitious” approach to a raging AIDS epidemic. He regarded me, a State Department-funded American, with some skepticism, and once teasingly suggested I must be a CIA mole—a joke, once suspects, that masked a hard-earned circumspection.

Dr. Neville Alexander, From Dr. Neville Edward Alexander, South African History Online,

Dr. Alexander held sharp views about America’s role in the world, and he would occasionally unspool an indictment of American imperialism in our meetings. For him, American Exceptionalism was propaganda; the U.S. was no City on a Hill.

A little less predictably, he thought the same about South Africa. He rejected the “rainbow nation” rhetoric as glib, arguing that South African Exceptionalism was every bit as illusory as America’s. South Africa’s destiny, he posited, was to become an “Ordinary Country”—also the title of a book he authored—shackled by its racist past and held down by the ANC’s embrace of free market economics. The continent’s autocratic patterns would eventually tug at the ANC’s elites, he thought, who would struggle to fight an out-of-control epidemic. This was an unpopular view at the time. I admit I found it unnecessarily gloomy.

Now, twenty years later, in the midst of a global pandemic when Freedom House gauges that democracy is in decline, I cannot help but wonder whether Dr. Alexander’s dire predictions for South Africa presaged some of what besets the U.S. today: Pandemic denialism, widespread protests on race and justice, and authoritarian and nationalist strains in our political discourse. If he were alive today, I fear Dr. Alexander would be writing a second volume about another “ordinary country”—my own.

But Dr. Alexander was not a knee-jerk pessimist, and I owe it to him to share an anecdote that proves it. One day, we were discussing contemporary South African politics. Dr. Alexander diverted from the topic to tell me his “only crime” under Apartheid was to join a study group and that Robben Island was “actually fun.”

Tim Perry, 20 years later, speaking to a law enforcement group about intelligence-sharing and election protection

I was surprised. Neither of these assertions was true. Though I’d agree he was morally innocent for resisting Apartheid, his “just a study group” defense was a bit rich. Despite some silver linings, Robben Island was a brutal place—something that Dr. Alexander has acknowledged in published interviews. But I think I know what he was doing. He intended these misdirections provocatively, theatrically, even defiantly, as if still sticking his thumb in the eye of the oppressor.

Yet the choice was curiously atemporal. Why relitigate the past when you’ve already won history? What did Robben Island have to do with the problems of the new South Africa, a country quite literally run by the men once imprisoned there? The answer is that, to Dr. Alexander, majority rule was a milestone rather than a finish line. In his mind, the transition from Apartheid to democracy was forever a work in progress, so it made perfect sense to marshal his anti-Apartheid past in a critique of his democratic government. It was all a single fight for him, and he would never stop fighting. There is nothing more optimistic than that.

I still believe America is a City on a Hill. But in an era when democracy is under threat, we may have to fight like South Africans to keep it that way.

-Tim Perry

Fulbright to South Africa – 2002

An Evening of Hope: Celebrating Fulbright Through Poetry

An Evening of Hope: Celebrating Fulbright Through Poetry

An Evening of Hope: Celebrating Fulbright Through Poetry, hosted by the Louisiana Chapter of the Fulbright Association and co-sponsored by the Fulbright Association featured works of acclaimed Fulbright poets, Julie Kane, and Ann Fisher Wirth. The lovely evening was held in November marking International Education Week and attended by over 70 members.

The Louisiana Chapter under the leadership of chapter president Patrice Moulton planned the evening to focus on the resilience of the human experience. As we come close to the end of 2020 and this tumultuous year, we look forward as individuals and as an organization to a brighter 2021. This event is also a sneak peek into all the amazing Fulbright alumni celebrations the Fulbright Association and its network of chapters will organize throughout the coming year marking the 75th anniversary.

Featured Poet, Julie Kane shared, “My Fulbright fellowship was to teach English composition and conversation and American poetry to senior English education majors at Vilnius Pedagogical University in Lithuania, now called “Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences.” It was not for being a poet, yet it has had profound effects on my work as a poet.”

One of the poems Julie read was, “To move to another country and not speak the language unable to tell where the words start and end in that river of speech…silent except when your name is spoken or cake or some number one to ten is to be reborn as a one year old child……,”

Julie states, ‘At first, of course, were the poems written during my six-month stay in Vilnius, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. They were included in my third book, Jazz Funeral, which won the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. A second edition of that book will soon be forthcoming from Red Hen Press, joining my latest book, Mothers of Ireland, as 2020 publications.

In 2005, three years after my fellowship, I was one of twelve international poets and the sole poet from the U.S. invited by the Lithuanian Writers Union to take part in Lithuania’s annual Poetry Spring Festival. A U.S. State Department travel grant helped to defray my travel expenses. For a week, we toured cities throughout Lithuania, giving poetry readings alongside translators who rendered our poems into Lithuanian. In each new city, the mayor would greet us at an official civic event as classical musicians played, and children showered us with bouquets of flowers. Never have I seen a country where poets and poetry were so cherished and respected.

That same year, one of my students from VPU came to my American university to study toward a master’s degree in English. As part of her graduate assistantship, she and I worked together co-translating poems by the Lithuanian poet Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė. In 2017, poet H. L. Hix and I co-edited Terribly in Love, a volume of selected poems by Tautvyda in English translation. That publication helped Tautvyda to secure a ten-week residency in the Fall 2019 cohort of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, which will influence her poems for many years to come.

The Fulbright experience does not end when our fellowships end. The friendships, professional relationships, and international bridges that we build during our time abroad continue to resonate throughout our lives and to nurture new creative opportunities and developments. I am so grateful for my life-altering Fulbright experience,” said Julie Kane.

The second featured poet Ann Fisher-Wirth discussed her two Fulbright grants while reading her poems. Her first Fulbright, for the academic year 1994-1995, was to the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, where she taught lecture courses in American literature, Southern literature, and American poetry, and a seminar on Willa Cather. She also met with students in Basel and Lausanne for seminars on William Carlos Williams, the subject of her book The Autobiographies of William Carlos Williams: The Woods of His Own Nature.

In 2002-2003 she held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. “My teaching at Uppsala was very diverse, I participated in a team-taught course for SINAS, the Swedish Institute for North American Studies, taught American literature and Southern literature as I had done in Switzerland, and gave numerous lectures on American environmental literature throughout Sweden, and in England, Finland, and France. One high point of the year, and an incredible honor, was delivering the lecture on American eco-novelists Rick Bass and Linda Hogan that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fulbright presence in Sweden.

Early in October of that year, I was talking long distance with my daughter, the poet Jessica Fisher, and I mentioned that my husband and I had recently visited Uppsala University’s library, the Carolina Redivida, where we had seen the 1539 woodblock map that is thronged with ogres, demons, and mythical beasts and yet is the first geographically accurate map of the Northern lands. Jessica said to me, “Write poems about it.” “Oh I might write a poem,” I replied. “No,” she insisted, “I said write poems.” So I did. One rainy afternoon, I sat on the floor of the darkened room and wrote, “First, notice the bear”—the opening line of what became my fourth book of poems, Carta Marina. An autobiography, a daybook, a travel book, a love story, an elegy, a novel—Carta Marina is all these things, and traces the arc of one of the most important years of my life.

One of my poem was inspired by an engraving on a stone marker that moved me so much. The graveyard was right across from the English Department at Uppsala University, “Suddenly a storm hunted down our year and when I raise my head from the table every leave lay in the grass, the grass dazzled in that piercing blue silence, a door stayed open holding its breath, blunt shoes still with mud on them stood in the closet,  you hear the quiet voices everywhere, he was a good husband, she was a good sister, when my first child died, and the phone rang, they said come Herr Olsen has fallen…..”

I can’t begin to express how wonderful the Fulbright program has been. It opens the world and opens the heart. My family and I saw and learned so much, made lasting friendships, and shared experiences and adventures that we will never forget,” said Ann Fisher-Wirth.

Patrice Moulton, president of the Louisiana chapter moderated the reading. She mentioned that her favorite line from Julie Kane’s poem that really stuck with her, was out of the poem, reasons to love the harmonica, “because it tolerates a little spit, and it feels like in 2020 we are all tolerating more than a little spit. We are doing it well overall but one of the reasons I’m proud to be a Fulbrighter is being part of this community and resilient group of Fulbrighters tolerating a bit of spit.”

“Words that really resonated with me from Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poems were, “encounters have become my meditation,” I think we are all hungry for encounters with people, hugs to come back and things to be a bit more normal. I also loved, “Whoever you are, may you be at peace in this great silence,” in this time, I hope we all find ways to do that and as we have all come together this evening we hope we can all do that,” said Patrice.

Many attendees commented on how lovely it was to spend a Sunday evening listening to beautiful poetry. They loved author stories around the poems they wrote, providing hope with beautiful and relatable imagery.

Some memorable lines from Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poems that resonated with the attendees were, “Whoever you are, may you be at peace in this great silence.” “When you come to love, bring all you have.” “Clear clear like the sky.” It was wonderful to attend such a lovely evening during COVID.

-Shaz Akram, Deputy Director


Watch the full event below:

Blustery Winds and Cold Days as Career Motivators

Blustery Winds and Cold Days as Career Motivators

Probably the most popular small talk topic is the weather. Even though we have much to lament about including the pandemic and polarizing politics, these topics can be controversial. The weather usually isn’t.

Sometimes a weather conversation can be observational – “Wow, it’s cold today!” – or predictive – “I think we are getting snow on Friday.” Your decisions that day – to take a long walk, rake the leaves, or put up some outside holiday décor – might be in the balance because of the forecast. But even if bad weather, you should still get outside. Being outside is very important right now.

Like the weather, there are disruptions and distractions when looking for work. Sometimes it’s easy to find an excuse not to do something that you should be doing. “I should be working on my resume, but I’m not in the mood.” Or, “I know I should send an email to this person asking for an informational interview, but it’s Friday afternoon, so she probably won’t read it.” It’s easy to put off to tomorrow, what you should be doing today.

But you need to push through right now. The fact that it’s cold outside should not cause you to not take that all important walk or rake those leaves. It just means that you must dress better. Don’t let a bit of bad weather, inhibit you from doing what you know deep down you should be doing.

The same goes for looking for work. Hesitancy by rationalizing an easy way of getting out of something related to career work needs to be overcome.

Even though I know it’s raining, I also know that once my walk is completed, I will feel better than when I started. Since I calculate steps when I walk, I will see something tangible to point to that I have accomplished (including expending some calories).

When you are stuck, taking a break can be helpful, but if you view a break as an easy way of putting something off, it is not good. Push through. Set yourself a goal, or maybe reward yourself when you are done. Maybe treat yourself to a latte when the task is completed. I recommend setting daily or weekly goals in your career strategy. Maybe you seek two informational interviews per week or spend 30 minutes a day looking online for work. Is this any different than a goal of 10,000 steps – rain or shine?

Don’t let bad weather stop you from getting outside. And the same with working on your career.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

Reflections on the Virtual Annual Conference: A new digital Fulbright world

Reflections on the Virtual Annual Conference: A new digital Fulbright world

As the pandemic was declared in March 2020, and countries started closing borders, the enormity of the situation hit us hard, and we slowly started cancelling in-person, scheduled events. We realized not only spring and summer events but all in-person events for the year would need to be cancelled. One by one, from Advocacy Day, to travel programs, chapter events, the Fulbright Prize and ultimately the Annual Conference scheduled to be held in Taiwan came to a slow halt. All headlines read – cancelled due to the pandemic.

Session # 1 – Race, Racism, and Diversity

The work from home protocols were adopted and quickly we became a remote workplace. Online video conferencing, FaceTime calls and all things digital became the new norm. With the return of newly minted Fulbrighters, we were presented with a unique opportunity to fill a gap – the lack of programming, professional development, and providing a new alumni community to many disappointed and disheartened U.S. Grantees.

This led to creating a series of zoom webinars, and the idea for providing a virtual conference to our members. We all struggled to understand what was globally happening, with the health crisis, Black Lives Matter movement galvanized by shocking displays of police brutality, increasing racism and the financial crash of global economies. With this statement in mind–“The Fulbright Association is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We stand in solidarity with our Black community, and we will continue to advocate for peace, respect and cultural understanding within our local communities and around the world.”–we started planning our virtual conference. At the suggestion of Board vice chair Cynthia Baldwin, we adopted the theme “Where Does the World Go from Here?”, inspired the book written by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pictured from top left clockwise is Caroline Levander, Krishna Guha, Shakira Simley, Maulik Pancholy and John Sargent.

The ongoing crisis determined the direction and content of the opening plenary – Global Crisis: Health, Finance, Racial Equity and Education. Celebrities like Maulik Pancholy (actor and activist) spoke on activism, bullying and growing up gay in America and Shakira Simley (Fulbrighter, food jammer and director of racial equity in the city of san Francisco) spoke on race relations and diversity. Shakira noted that, “Systemic racism is the joint operation of institutions to produce racialized outcomes, even in the absence of racist intent.”

Krishna Guha, Vice Chairman of Evercore ISI, Fulbrighter, and former national board member spoke on the economic and financial experience the world is going through. “This is an unpreceded economic shock as well as a health crisis. Devasting economic shock’s hardest burden has fallen on the most disadvantaged group of people around the world.”

John Sargent, Co-Founder, BroadReach Healthcare, Fulbrighter, and former national board member spoke on healthcare access and equality. His presentation addressed the healthcare perspective tackling COVID 19, stating, “the case for optimism is that COVID 19 while tragic has pushed many health systems to innovate and adopt for the industrial revolution technology.”

Caroline Levander,  Vice President for Global and Digital Strategy at Rice University, (Fulbrighter and National Board of Director member) played a dual role of moderator and speaker on International education, “higher ed as an industry, is seeing a cause for hope and cause for concern, with universities opening and closing, dispersing students and juggling protecting health. The industry anticipates a contraction in the US.”

Session #2 – Environmental/Addressing Current Challenges

Session #3 – The Arts as a Way Forward

The conference sessions and posters were divided into themes: Race, Racism and Diversity; Impact of the Pandemic; Environmental/Addressing Current Challenges ; The Arts as a Way Forward ; Peace, Education, and Social Justice ; COVID-19/Health; Teaching and Education; Education; International Exchange; Activism and Change. Presenters logged in from all over the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Columbia, Russia, and Vietnam.

The diversity in topics and presenters was central to the conference and the virtual platform made attendance and presenting innovative, and easier for attendees to engage. Presenters talked about racism, diversity, equal access, and using comics to create a deeper understanding of the pandemic and race. They discussed international educational exchange impacts, to dance, music and film. This conference had all the elements of relevant content for our growing Fulbright community. A session by IIE also guided on, “How alumni can help support student and scholar recruitment.” Click here to see screen shots of presenters – presenter pictures.

The 2020 Cohen dance lecture awardee was Janaki Patrik. Her talk titled, “Improvisation in Kathak,” led the audience through a captivating journey of meditation, and dance rooted in one of the oldest sub-continent (South Asian) dance forms, Kathak.

This year’s conference would not be successful if not for the support of our major donors and sponsors. Each year, donors contribute towards a scholarship fund that allows young professionals and faculty lacking institutional support to attend. National Board member Bruce Fowler and former board chair, Manfred Philipp, supported the 2020 scholarship fund.

Sponsors included institutional members, Rice University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Alabama, Auburn University and University of Arkansas. Other organizations like the National Peace Corps Association, Institute of International Education (IIE) and Strangers Guide sponsored as well.

If you attended the conference, we invite you to fill out the survey. We hope you all plan to keep updated with all our 2021 programming. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary for the Fulbright program, we will be offering a lot of unique digital programming for all our members. We would also love to hear from you all on any suggestions and ideas as well as your exchange stories for our 75th celebration planning. Please email

-Shaz Akram, Deputy Director


Take Someone Else’s Advice (Please!)

Take Someone Else’s Advice (Please!)

Usually in this space, I offer my insights as a career coach and someone who has participated in the Fulbright Program.  Hopefully through my writing, I have provided some helpful views and suggestions that might help you in pursuing a career or other professional interests.

I thought this month, I’d let others “do the talking” so to speak.  I regularly read articles that I receive through online publications and listservs that I subscribe to.   Some of these pieces offer valuable recommendations or sometimes just good ideas to ponder!   So here are a few I’ve read recently that I feel are worth passing on.

Flexjobs posted a noteworthy piece written by Adrianne Bibby on 10/12/20 about “How Fresh Air Can Help with Your Job Search.”  Get out and take in the fresh air!

Are you using the right “sign-off” in your emails? Jacob Took writes in Ladders, “20 Email Sign-Offs So Compelling They’ll Have to Write Back,” (9/2/20) that a better sign-off can motivate the receiver to answer back.

Sociologist Tracy Brower in Fast Company offers some basic advice on “How to Use Your Network to Survive a Bad Job Market,” (7/31/20).

I’m really tired at the end of day.  How about you? Could it be Zoom fatigue? Read “Zoom Fatigue is Real – Here’s Why Video Calls Are So Draining,” by Libby Sander (5/19/20) in Ideas.Ted.Com.

Does your resume beat the Bots?  This piece by Amanda Augustine in TopResume (N.D.) provides some good advice.  Read “What Is an ATS? How to Write a Resume to Beat the Bots.”

Networking is not so easy today.   This piece by Kristi Faulkner in Forbes provides some good advice: “How to Network Gracefully in the Time of Social Distancing,” (5/27/20).

My colleague and friend (and Fulbright ETA alum!) Sarah McLewin writes in PCDN.Global about onboarding in the virtual world: “You Landed a Social Impact Job in a Pandemic…Now What?: How to Make the Most of Remote Onboarding in “These Uncertain Times,” (10/7/20).

And are you thinking about a great idea now? You must be!  Read this piece by Laura Vanderkam in Forge to consider where to take it next: “The Perfect Conditions for a Great Idea,” (7/16/20).

And the last piece of advice (my advice here!) is that if you participated in a U.S. Fulbright program (or any other State Department sponsored program or the Peace Corps) as a U.S. citizen and are between 18-35, you should join the Career Connections Program.  Career Connections brings together U.S. alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs with expert career coaches, professionals from diverse fields, and international leaders. Whether you’re changing careers, looking to advance, or just starting out, these seminars provide invaluable opportunities to network.  The starting point in joining is visiting the International Exchange Alumni site ( and making sure you are a member, then going to the U.S. Alumni page. Career Connections events are all online right now!

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Janaki Patrik

2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Janaki Patrik

Janaki Patrik

Artistic Director, The Kathak Ensemble & Friends/CARAVAN, Inc.

Trained in both modern dance (Merce Cunningham studio scholarship, 1971 to 79) and classical north Indian Kathak dance (Pt. Birju Maharaj, Kathak Kendra and Kalashram, New Delhi, ongoing from 1967), Janaki Patrik has choreographed thirty full-evening productions and numerous smaller works. Her knowledge of Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Brij Bhasha and Bengali poetry has inspired dances as diverse as MANDALA X / The Hymn of Creation (1997) in Vedic Sanskrit, AGAMONI / Return of the Daughter in Bengali (2012) and WE SINFUL WOMEN (2017), based on Urdu feminist poetry. The musicality which is fundamental to her creativity in dance was developed in childhood during thirteen years of training in classical flute, culminating in lessons from Donald Peck, Principal Flutist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Artistic Director and Founder (1978) of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends, Janaki has presented solo and group productions in Canada, India, Sri Lanka and the United States at venues including Lincoln Center, Out-of-Doors Festival, Carnegie Hall/Silk Road Project, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Museum and Asia Society in New York City; Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; Premier Dance Theatre in Toronto; Carver Center in Austin, Texas; Philadelphia Museum; Indian International Center in New Delhi, and Indian Cultural Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
A dedicated teacher, Janaki’s ongoing technique and repertoire classes prepare students to perform an extensive selection of classical Kathak, as well as her new choreography, including MOZARTAYANA (Allegro from Mozart’s Symphony No. 41); FLASHPOINT (W.H.Auden’s LULLABY w Samuel Barber and John Adams’ Violin Concertos); CHEATING LYING STEALING (David Lang’s music of the same name); and BOLLYWOOD GOES CLASSICAL, restaging some of Bollywood’s most popular songs in classical Kathak style. She has been active in arts-in-education for three decades, leading in-school workshops and performing through Young Audiences/NY with a four-artist ensemble named CARAVAN.

Janaki’s writing includes the manuscript “KATHAK in AMERICA”, published in NARTANAM, A Quarterly Journal of Indian Dance, 4th Quarter 2011, Hyderabad, India; and a monograph entitled “PRODUCING ASIAN ARTS IN THE UNITED STATES : An American Triumvirate : Beate Gordon of Asia Society, Alan Pally of the NY Public Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Robert & Helene Browning of World Music Institute ” published in the January / March 2014 issue of NARTANAM. She writes for NARTHAKI, Indian Dance Online, Dr. Anita Ratnam, Founding Editor, Chennai. Her column is entitled CHOREOGRAPHING BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: India and the United States.

Significant awards include a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, 1988/89 to research Kathak’s poetic repertoire, and a Senior Performing & Creative Artist Fellowship 2008/09 from The American Institute of Indian Studies for research in India to study the curricula, syllabi and methodology for teaching Kathak, and to observe new developments in Kathak choreography.

Since poetry is the well-spring of Kathak’s storytelling techniques and repertoire, Janaki has acquired facility in many of the major languages and dialects of north India, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Brij Bhasha, Maithili and Avadhi. Ms.Patrik received a Bachelor of Arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa in Russian Language and Literature from Swarthmore College in 1966, and a Master of Arts from Columbia University, The Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures in May 2000.

Ron du Bois – Nigeria 1987

Ron du Bois – Nigeria 1987

Making a Film Documentary on African Ceramics
by Ron du Bois, Professor Emeritus of Art, Oklahoma State University

From the start, our Nigerian Saga was ruled by chance, by luck, by indeterminacy. We were led by forces whose effects could never have been foreseen or predicted, such as a chance meeting in a type of local eatery called a buka. My wife and I were the only Westerners in a group of Nigerians gathered there for a noon meal. They were curious to know about us and what we were doing in a local buka. We told them we were from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, and were in Nigeria under Fulbright support. We were overwhelmed when one of them said, “I graduated from O.S.U. with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.” His wife and children lived in Stillwater! While I had never seen or met him in our university community, our paths crossed in that buka on the campus of the University of Ile Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). This meeting (no doubt arranged by the Eshu, the Yoruba deity of chance) proved to be crucial and auspicious to the film documentation of Yoruba women potters. His name was Dr. Julius Afolabi, an engaging Nigerian whose grandmother was a potter. His uncle, Sam Osashure, was an official in the city of Ilorin, a major pottery production center about 60 miles northwest of Ile Ife. His mother lived in a small village close to Ilorin. Julius visited her on a regular basis. Would we like to come along and meet his mother and his uncle and visit Dada Compound, where a community of women potters worked year round? His uncle could introduce me to the potters and strike some sort of arrangement regarding filming them at work. It was the perfect opportunity to begin fieldwork.

Left: Mayor Sam Osashure and wife in their Ilorin, Nigeria, home. Center: Ron du Bois, OSU Emeritus Professor and Fulbright researcher. Right: Dr. Julius Afolabi, Oklahoma State University graduate student from Nigeria.

Prof. Igbibami, Head, Ceramics Dept. Ile Ice University, Nigeria. He was my hospitable host
and colleague.

The University of Ile Ife was our host institution and the heart of the support system that made the project possible. The university had an interesting and active ceramics program, headed by Ralph Ibigbami, a potter, ceramic sculptor, and scholar. I would eventually visit his home in Eshan Ekiti and record potters in that area. My initial Fulbright proposal had been reviewed and approved both by Professor Ibigbami and Dr. Rowland Abiodun, Art Department Chair. They reported to the Fulbright program that they would take responsibility for our welfare and accommodations, even though these matters had not yet been formally accepted by the slow-moving university administration. Despite their efforts, living accommodations were not available. Instead we were housed in the university hotel for nearly three months before finally securing a regular apartment where we could unpack our luggage and I could prepare for my field research.

Thora A. du Bois, Ph.D. Piano Performance, served as musical ambassador to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

During this time my wife, Thora, a pianist, became a valued member of the highly active music department and I began to get my bearings at the university. It was located a short way from the ancient city of Ile Ife, the place where, according to Yoruba belief, all human beings were created. The city is famous for its production of both terra cotta and brass-cast images of Yoruba kings and queens during the middle ages. It is the center of the Yoruba spiritual world. I had to abandon my preconceptions on the first visit. The paved streets, heavy traffic of buses, cars, trucks, taxis, and motorcycles immediately dispelled the image of Ile Ife as an African city of the past. Instead I found, as did the early Portuguese, that the city was bustling with industry, energy and street life. In spite of the influence of Western religions, traditional Yoruba religion was still vital. The ancient festivals were still being performed. I was able to interview an Ifa priest – a revealing experience in it’s own right. As I videotaped daily life and festivals in Ile Ife, I had no specific understanding of how the scenes would be used, and several of them became important sections of the documentaries, providing a striking contrast between contemporary city life and the traditional pace and practices of the women potters.

The United States Information Service was a crucial part of our support system. The Lagos office received our ten boxes of luggage and the critical shipment of ECN (Eastman Kodak Color Negative) 16 mm film. These were then transferred to the Ibaden USIS office. USIS personnel arranged for accommodations in Ibaden and the final stage of our trip by car to the University of Ile Ife. We had no transportation of our own and the prospect of buying and car and driving in Nigeria was daunting. Eventually, by chance, we did acquire a Volvo station wagon and I was able to make regular trips to Ilorin. I even learned to drive in Lagos. The driving conditions are so scary in that city that I preferred to maintain an illusion of control and safety by claiming the wheel myself. The initial trip to Ilorin was made in Julius’ car. His mother welcomed us with warm hospitality and a hearty bowl of famous Yoruba stew. Then we visited Julius’ uncle, Sam Osashure. He knew the head mistress of the potters at Dada Compound and made arrangements on my behalf for filming and videotaping throughout the compound. The head mistress asked for and received a cash payment in return for this arrangement.

A hereditary Yoruba woman potter can produce some five immense clay water vessels a day. When carefully dried they will be stacked and fired in the largest open field firing system in the world.

Once the word went out that payment had been made, the normally reserved and camera-shy women allowed me complete freedom to roam the compound, to photograph, and to film. Normally they do not welcome strangers. They live in a closed society that protects their craft secrets. They believe that if they share their craft, the ancestors who taught them might not approve. Pottery is their only means of livelihood and the processes are traditionally taught only to those born into the hereditary profession of potter. I believe the women made an exception for me because of the way I had gained admission, i.e., through influential Yoruba friends who followed the correct procedures and spoke their language. Julius’ and Sam’s negotiations and preparations were crucial to successfully documenting this famous pottery community.

I needed a base of operations in Ilorin, food and shelter, and a place to store my equipment. The United Church of West Africa maintained economical living quarters in the city. Dr. Afolabi made arrangements for me to stay there during the week until the project was completed. On weekends I returned to the campus in Ile Ife to visit my wife, and catch up on campus life. These arrangements worked perfectly. My UCWA room was a fraction of the cost of a hotel. It had a bed, table and chair, and most importantly, a shower. The gates were closed at night, so it was a safe place to park my Volvo.

My schedule was the same, week after week. I got up, ate, picked up Dr. Afolabi’s brother, Shola, who was my translator, and went to Dada Compound to observe, study, ask questions, and film until sunset. Sometimes I gave a few of the potters a ride home. (They usually walked to work in the morning and left the compound well after dark, taking a bus home.) I established rapport with the women in a number of ways. Initially, rather than taking the large 16 mm camera into the compound, I began shooting with my small 8 mm video camera. When they saw themselves in the playback mode, they understood what I was doing, and the ice was broken.

They understood I was a potter because I helped them with their clay and wedging tasks. I was not able to keep up with them. Their strength and stamina came from wedging clay every day since childhood. As potters, they performed amazing feats of endurance and strength. They must have thought it odd that a male was a potter. Yoruba culture traditionally has been gender specific regarding work, insisting that women perform tasks associated with hearth and home and that men perform tasks outside the home. When questioned, master- potter Alhaja said she was not aware that men were potters in Northern Nigeria. She believed that custom and tradition call women to pottery, yet couldn’t think of any specific restriction against men becoming potters. The question had never come up.

Ron and Alhaja, Dada Compound, Ilorin, Nigeria, 1987

My contacts at the University of Ile Ife referred me to Dr. N.A. Olaoye, a specialist in craft technologies at the University of Ilorin. Much of the narration was based on the information and research he provided.

It seems impossible to pick out any one of many interacting factors of chance and luck as being most important, but the departure of my department head, Rowland Abiodun, for the U.S. was a crucial breakthrough. His leave of absence made it possible for him to loan me his Volvo station wagon for over four months. The project would have been far more difficult without Roland’s trusty Volvo. I’m happy to report that I was able to return it to him in better condition than when he left.

In 1988 I returned from Nigeria with 10,000 feet of 16 mm Eastman Kodak Color Negative motion picture film. The film was developed in the U.S. I also had considerable 8 mm videotape that was to prove extremely valuable. With the advent of digital technology, we were able to digitize both film and video for editing purposes. Without the digital technology that came into use well after my return from Nigeria, the documentaries in their present form would have been more complex and expensive.

In 2002, fifteen years later, I was able to complete three film/video documentaries on the women potters in the city of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. One, entitled Yoruba Potters: Mothers and Daughters – Dada Compound, documents the construction of ekoko amu, huge water-storage vessels essential to daily life, especially in rural areas where there is no plumbing. The video now exists in two versions:

1. The initial 30-minute version, which I financed myself. It was the basis for additional funding by the Ford Foundation and was awarded an Honorable Mention at the film festival, “A Century of Ceramics on Film and Video,” Amsterdam, 1999.

2. An expanded and improved 38-minute version, financed by Fulbright and the Ford Foundation.

A third program, Yoruba Potters: Mothers and Daughters – Ogbena Compound, approximately 35 minutes, documents the production of lidded soup bowls, called isasun, used in rural areas for cooking over an open fire.

Both the ekoko amu and the isasun are produced with hand-building skills alone. The entire processes for both are documented in these videos. The Dada Compound video demonstrates and explains the construction of huge ekoko amu, from digging and working the clay to the dramatic “open field” firing of more than a thousand perfectly symmetrical water vessels made without a potter’s wheel. The women and girls, ages 5 to 65, work at their profession from dawn to dusk, year-round. Because of rapidly changing conditions in Nigeria – the infatuation with modern technology and plastics – these skills could pass away, victims of Western technology and notions of “progress”.

I had gone to Nigeria with the view that the work had to be done by “a single researcher with a camera” who could learn about the culture, the potters and the process, and document them as they were learned. I wanted to use the “indirect method” of the creative process, in which the final result is not known at the outset. It is the only practical method of filming in a situation where there is little, if any, pre-existing knowledge of what is to be documented.

The “direct method” is one in which the information is already known, so that a script can be written listing the sequence of camera shots. The “direct method” might be more efficient for a professional film crew after the research and observation have been completed. But there is no doubt, especially in a remote area, that the footage a lone cameraman can gather over the course of several months or a year is far more substantial.

The video documentary is available for rent or purchase at

-Ron du Bois, Professor Emeritus of Art, Oklahoma State University

Fulbright Scholar
South Korea – 1973
India – 1979
Nigeria – 1987

Use Your Superpowers

Use Your Superpowers

If you are a superhero, you most certainly have a superpower. Though I’m no expert, it seems that most superheroes have various formidable abilities, as well as a few unique powers that set them apart. Captain America’s powers are strength and agility while Spider-Man’s is his ability to jump and climb. Jean Grey can control minds and the Invisible Woman, can, you guessed it, become invisible. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been home with Netflix learning a lot about superheroes lately.

Superheroes are not limited to those on the big screen or from DC Comics. In all walks of life there are individuals who have special abilities that can be used for the greater good. I’m reminded that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away recently and was a U.S. Supreme Court justice, was thought of as a superhero based on her life’s commitment to advancing women.

Of course, you might not feel like a superhero sometimes – maybe a super flop. But your worst day is probably not as bad as a superhero’s: you didn’t destroy a planet, right? We all have a superpower, maybe more than one. And these powers are important to use to promote a career and find work. You just have to find it, practice it, and of course, only use it only for good.

Here are a few superpowers and how you might use them to your advantage:

1. Writing Like a Superhero

We all can write of course, but some of us are really good at it. For some their strength is in writing fiction such as stories and narratives about experiences and characters that capture our imagination. Others can write business prose and hammer out precisely worded reports and studies.

For many positions, writing is the sine qua non – the indispensable requirement – for hiring (and some writers are even good at showing off a bit of Latin once in a while). If writing is your thing, emphasize it in your application. Make sure your resume is peppered with citations and hyperlinks to your best writing. If you are submitting your application in paper, include a hard copy article or research piece that highlights your abilities. More importantly, apply for positions where good writing is required.

2. Networking and Making Presentations Superpower

Maybe you are a natural. You easily connect with people and are not intimidated when meeting new colleagues and professionals. Not everyone is comfortable in their skin (and some superheroes do have a particular skin!). But for you when you meet people for the first time, you don’t trip over your words: you can make a good impression and say what is needed in the moment.

Increasingly companies and organizations require every professional to be their own “PR” department. A job might require that you might communicate in person or online much of your day. With your superpower, you are able to make a passionate, relevant, and personable case for your employer. Make sure when you apply for a job where making connections and presenting are important, that you show or provide examples of your efforts. Maybe you are on YouTube giving a talk? Or have been interviewed by a news outlet?

3. Tech and Social Media Superhero

Maybe you are a wiz at social media and keep up with the latest trends and apps. You know what forms of social media are most effective in a particular situation. Your familiarization is not only with traditional means like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, but with novel new means that are tailored to younger professionals — Instagram or Snapchat, for instance.

Today, every professional needs to be social media competent. But you are an expert. So be sure to show a prospective employer what you have produced, and more importantly, the impact of the social media you have used. Have you increased sales? Brought in new members or clients?

4. Superhero of Multitasking, Quick Learning, and Rapid Response, or Just Getting it Done!

Many places demand quick response and the anticipation of changes and disruptions. You are a multitasker, but more importantly, are flexible and a quick learner. You can adjust to any situation – in the moment! You can put a fire out (literally and figuratively!). You also have the ability to anticipate problems around the bend.

It is a fast-paced world where businesses and organizations need to react and respond quickly to changing conditions and crises. Taking advantage of opportunities is critical to being on the cutting edge and producing good work. If you a person who can stay on task, work on deadline, respond quickly, and get it done, you are a superhero.

When you apply for a job make sure to share stories of how you have used your superpowers to save the day (or maybe even the planet)!

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

Samantha Bennett – India 2019

Samantha Bennett – India 2019

Lifting Others Up Through Action Research

During a field visit, a woman with light gray hair and a forest green sari strolled up to me and began jabbering in Kannada, a local language in Southwestern India, throwing her arms about her thin frame. Nidhi, my translator, stood beside me giggling, testing me on the Kannada greetings she had taught me earlier. I was helpless. All I could comprehend was the word “eat.” The woman brought her fingers to her mouth, mimicking the act of eating. She patted my belly and laughed gregariously. “Have you eaten lunch?” Ah yes, that’s it! That’s what she was trying to say. “Uta Ita” I responded, embarrassed by my inability to speak the local language. She stepped back, waggling her head, the typical Indian way, and seemed satisfied with my response, at least for now.

Through a Fulbright-Nehru research scholarship, I conducted action research in South India for 8 months with a social enterprise called Pollinate Group.  I spent most of my days doing ethnographic field work with women entrepreneurs living in informal settlements in metropolitan cities like Bangalore and Kolkata. These informal migratory communities often lack energy services and clean cooking facilities and women grapple with deeply ingrained gender dynamics. The inhabitants migrate from rural villages to work in cities because climate change has made yearlong subsistence agriculture untenable.

I hoped to understand a women’s sense of agency through her involvement in entrepreneurial activity, selling household products, but most often small-scale solar such as solar lanterns and fans. The products women sell have many life-saving and time-saving benefits: families no longer have to deal with toxic and dangerous kerosene lamps, children can study with a solar lamp to light up the darkness, and with clean cookstoves women can cook without inhaling smoke from firewood they had to take the time to collect. In the process of selling these products, a woman begins to develop business skills and enhances her bargaining power in the household. She also creates a stronger sense of community and challenges gendered norms that a woman’s place is in the home. I was fascinated by this process of empowerment, what it means for a woman, and how that agency could be enhanced.

After an interview with a women entrepreneur, Nidhi and I set out to leave the informal settlement while a group gathered around us. The woman in the forest green sari crouched on the ground in a malasana squat. She looked up at me with her sparkling eyes and began to ask questions excitedly. I explained I was from America, there doing research. Her eyes grew wide. “America!” she shouted and looked up to the sky. She rubbed her fingers together to symbolize the great wealth of Americans. “Rich!” she yelped. She said she’d like to come back to the United States with me as she smiled innocently.

But how could I make her understand the truth of San Francisco’s streets, overflowing with persons without a place to call home? I considered the rising inequalities within U.S. cities where many people can’t afford their rent and commute for hours to save money. I thought of the racial gaps in education, healthcare, and the for-profit criminal justice system. How could I make her see that not all U.S. citizens are wealthy and not everyone has been welcomed into the “American Dream?” It’s not a perfect place, nowhere is perfect.

Before I had time to respond, the woman in the green sari grabbed both of my arms with a force and pulled me down into a squat alongside her on the orange-red dirt. I had felt a barrier between us, as I stood looking down at her while she squatted below me. But I didn’t bring myself down to meet her at her own level. It was she who had to pull me down. While I squatted there, it became clear to me that I could not expect to understand this woman’s perspective while looking down at her. I could never fully understand the complexities of her experience as an Indian woman living in a migratory informal settlement. But, by listening deeply, I could try my best to understand. And so, I gently lifted the woman up to stand by my side, and her eyes sparkled brightly in the mid-day sun.

It was through interactions such as this, that I learned the importance of mutual understanding that the Fulbright Program facilitates. This lesson, of the importance of participatory action research in the context of mutual understanding and of transcending the power dynamic that often exists as a foreign researcher from the United States, stands out to me. We can’t attempt to understand the lived experiences of others from a position of power. We must learn to bring ourselves to the level of those we interact with, with genuine wonder and loving-kindness. I find this incredibly important as a white female working in a development context, working with women who look up to me for the color of my skin, because that is what they were taught to value. Constantly aware of my identity and positionality as an outsider, I was vigilant about creating safe spaces for women to share their stories while being very transparent that my research was meant to benefit their lived experience of agency. To ensure my research was meaningful, I collaborated closely with my host organization, to focus on community needs rather than just my own intellectual interests. I was able to provide an action plan based off my research insights that my host organization could implement to enhance the agency of the entrepreneurs they recruit. Such iterative research is a bottom-up process, informed by the participants and their needs, rather than a exploitative top down process. During my Fulbright research, I was confronted with questions such as: Who am I doing research for? And what do I hope the impact of my research to be? These are questions that all researchers must continue to be mindful of, especially those working abroad and with vulnerable populations.

As I waved goodbye to the colorful group gathered at the edge of the informal settlement, I internalized this valuable lesson. I challenge myself to be more aware of bringing myself to the levels of others and to continuously lift others up. As a researcher and activist inspired by my Fulbright experience, I will continue to uplift the voices of women at the margins, hoping to build capacities and create a flourishing sense of agency for all humans.

-Samantha Bennett

2019 Fulbright U.S. Student to India


Update: After an abrupt end to her Fulbright in March, Bennett recreated stories of the resilient women she worked with through her research. Bennett created a manuscript of creative nonfiction stories and now is in the process of applying for graduate programs.

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

Summer is almost over. And was it a summer like no other: no beach vacation, no National Parks visits, and maybe not even a trip to the community pool. Since March, it’s been a big blur for many. Because the natural rhythm the summer offers with travel, picnics, and parades was absent, the recreation and reflection that is generally part of the summer was missing. You might not have ventured much beyond your own backyard and you are exhausted just the same. It could be you are now working more, even at a home office. A recent study confirms that we are actually working more at home right now, not less.

August tends to be a slow hiring month, especially in the policy, government, and NGO worlds. In Washington, this is because Congress was usually on recess, and those groups that depend on watching, lobbying, and engaging with Congress would take a break. The pandemic has exacerbated this. Things were already slow, and now things are even slower.

Maybe you’ve given yourself a summer break from it all. That’s a good thing. Taking time to read, garden, or do little of anything has health benefits. Maybe, here and there you were thinking about what to do next career wise, even writing down an idea or two. But you were still in slowdown mode.

But now it is time to the put “pedal to the metal” so to speak, even if the drive is a virtual one. So how do you reignite yourself to get back into the swing of things?


1. Determine Your Objectives

Even before you reach out to employers or rewrite your resume or LinkedIn, you need first to consider your objectives. Is the job you are seeking a “bridge” to something else? This could be a short-term strategy. The dream job you are looking for might be something that will take more effort and time to explore or even require additional education. But a “bridge” job could be something to help you short-term to network, keep your mind active, or pay the bills. If you are not looking for a short-term job, but think the dream job is within grasp, then you need to develop a plan for making it a reality. Ideally, your plan would include specific steps that you need to reach on a weekly basis: maybe a specific number of informational interviews you’ve had, or job applications submitted, or virtual events attended. And evaluate frequently what you are have done. Friday afternoon is a good time to consider what you have done the prior week.


2. Reconnect with Your Networks and Social Media

Taking a pause from social media and networks during the summer can be healthy. The overload (and anxiety) of keeping up with colleagues, friends, and the news of the day can

take its toll. But now, reengaging is important. You don’t need to answer every email you’ve not responded to, so be selective. Indicate you were taking a break from it all, and now are back at the wheel. Catching up is good now. Inquire as to how summer was for others and let them know that your priority now is finding work. They might very well be in the same boat.


3. Return to the Basics

It might be time to review, or even rewrite your resume or CV. I’m often struck by people reluctant to completely rewrite a resume. Sometimes making additions and add-ons make your resume look a bit like a house where additions were added with little thought or planning. Your resume needs to be sharp, fresh, and contemporary in its appearance. The same goes for LinkedIn. Reconsider everything about your profile. If your photo is more than two years old, then it is time to update. Does your headline reflect who you are? Have you developed new interests that might lead to joining some LinkedIn groups?


4. Freshen Up!

Even though the fall might still be more virtual than face to face, that doesn’t mean you can’t freshen up. Can you up your wardrobe a bit? (You might say “Well they only see me from the neck up!” But there is a psychological benefit to sprucing up). If you can’t get to your stylist, can you do something yourself or have a family member help you out? If you haven’t up to now, start an exercise or meditation routine that you can continue through the fall. Commit to eating better. The excuse of, it’s summer so I can some more ice cream, is over. Sorry.

With the change of seasons, we have the opportunity to renew our focus on bettering ourselves, including a renewed effort in seeking career opportunities. Take this time to reengage.


—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at He can reached at

Chapter Resilience and Pandemic Influenced Programming

Chapter Resilience and Pandemic Influenced Programming

The pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world. Our lives have forever changed. We have gained a new outlook and appreciation for all activities in person. This includes all the things we took for granted – a hug, handshakes and gatherings of welcome – that Fulbrighters are so accustomed too.

This spring over 50 chapters nationwide had to abruptly cancel all their spring activities. As cities, states and countries began shutting down, and government mandated stay at home orders took effect, chapter leadership struggled with managing a viable connection to their members and visiting Fulbrighters in their communities.

The Fulbright Association continued to maintain a connection, through monthly chapter webinars and online training. A list of chapter webinars can be viewed here.

From how to utilize chapter web resources to using the Fulbrighter App, we shared best practices and strengthened the tools offered to chapters. Many of our chapters benefited from a special session on virtual presentations which our Walden Chapter hosted. Walden University exclusively teaches online and most of the faculty and students benefit virtually and were able to share their best practices with other chapters.

From signing up for zoom and gotomeeting accounts to exclusively communicating by email with members, chapters were quick to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. As country borders shut down, and travel came to an almost standstill, chapter leadership embarked on a new method of offering virtual programming.

  • Greater Los Angeles chapter offered a Fulbright Virtual E-Travels webinar
  • Northern California chapter is offering a series of virtual workshops like concerts, African drummers, poetry reading, yoga class and workout classes, cheesemaking and lectures i.e. coffee masterclass by CEO of Borola Cafe in Mexico City.
  • San Diego chapter is planning a ninety-minute panel discussion of current issues along the US-Mexico border by leading journalists and researchers. The panel will consist of two journalists, Ramon Blanco Villalon, a founding member of the Tijuana-based Semanario Zeta. They are also planning a San Elijo Conservancy presentation and hike.
  • Indiana chapter took the pause in programming to offer a board development session to chapter leadership.
  • Iowa chapter is organizing and producing three Chapter-Sponsored Broadcasts with National and International Pandemic Experts.
  • Kentucky chapter is planning to participate in the Day at the Downs.
  • Maine chapter collaborated with the World Affairs Council of Maine (WACM) with a virtual storytelling soirée event “Celebration of the Legacy of Cultural Exchanges” in June.
  • West and Mid Michigan Chapter held online talks “Summer 2020 in Context: Exploring Behind the Headlines” which addressed issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Minnesota chapter is organizing a virtual Career Workshop Young Professional
  • New Mexico chapter is offering a virtual talk on the Constitution, American History, and Preparation for going aboard.
  • Central Ohio chapter is offering a Fulbright Forum and online networking session in July with 3 virtual activities in 3 separate cities.
  • Brazos Valley chapter is planning to hold two events that conceivably could still happen by September 30. The first is the Queen Theater event which includes cost of movie plus exclusive use of the theater for the afternoon and a Brazos Bombers baseball game. Of course, these activities are still subject to cancellation due to the ongoing pandemic crisis in the state of Texas.
  • Western Washington chapter has organized virtual events like a Summer Solstice Sun and Sundials, Western Washington Artists Virtual Studio Tour, and a special discussion with executives from the 3-Time WNBA Champion Seattle Storm.
  • Other chapters like the North Carolina and South Carolina chapters are also planning virtual webinars.

The Fulbright Association chapters are nothing short of inspiring. They are affiliate groups run by an amazing cadre of Fulbright volunteers, all accomplished in their careers, work and scholarship. They are representative of a multigenerational group, diverse in age, gender, and race and I have been privileged to work with them. As we look to 2021, and the fast approaching 75th anniversary year of the program (1946-2021), I look forward to planning celebratory events with them. Our chapters are like the constellation of stars in the universe that light up and flicker with life, activity and brilliance as diverse as the US geographic landscape. Together we will create an exciting, memorable experience for each Fulbright member.

-Shaz Akram, Deputy Director Fulbright Association

Alumni Profile – Steven Darian

Alumni Profile – Steven Darian

10th Century Tibetan Monastery in Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas, 1987

I’ve been lucky enough to have had 3 Fulbrights: to India, Uzbekistan, & Ukraine. Apart from 30 years teaching at Rutgers, I’ve been an incurable traveler, with other long-term assignments in Saudi & Turkey, Afghanistan & India, China & Indonesia. These things become part of your identity. When doing my website, I had to ask myself for the first time: What is my identity or identities? My answer was: Writer, editor, and interculturalist.

Children of the Station––Bombay/Mumbai, 1971

And of course interculturalism––is the core of the Fulbright experience. It is without doubt, a many-faceted word. It involves adding to your institution, adding to your host country, and expanding your understanding of yourself and the world.

My Fulbright to India (along with several other stays in-country), enabled me to write the book I had always dreamed of writing––A Ganges of the Mind––a popular book on the river and people I met while traveling from its source in the high Himalayas, to the Bay of Bengal: beggars and pilgrims, scoundrels and scholars.

Mausoleum of a Sufi Saint––Samarkand, 1997

Plus a scholarly book on the river, as well. It was a time when the journey to the East was in full spate. It seemed almost everyone was going to India for something; yoga and meditation, philosophy, theosophy; you name it. I also connected up with several colleagues from the University of Calcutta, and was later able to mentor several of their students who later traveled to America to study.

The Fulbright to Uzbekistan pulled me into the world of Islamic history and culture, and led me to write a historical novel set in 14th century Samarkand––one of the greatest centers of culture & learning of the Islamic world. I called the book The Illuminator, and spent the following two years studying the Islamic tradition, as background for the book, and for my studies in comparative religion.

The Fulbright to Ukraine resulted in a collaboration on two books with a Ukrainian colleague––Dr. Olga Ilchenko––of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. It was a collaboration that has lasted a lifetime, and also resulted in my currently serving on the editorial board of a Ukrainian journal. My stay also resulted in meeting my wife.

The Buddhas of Bamiyan (6th century), 1964

Istalif––Afghanistan: 1063, 1963, or 2063?

Two years of teaching in China also yielded a collaboration on two books, with a Chinese colleague. And finally, two years teaching in Turkey, that gave me some insights into that amazing part of the world, whose history disappears into the mists of time. My travels have enabled me to visit the ancient sites: Borobudur in Indonesia; stations on the Silk Road; the Buddhas of Bamiyan, before they were dynamited by the Taliban. Gaur: once one the greatest cities of India; and today, the haunt of birds and monkeys. As well as the clay soldiers of X’ian––probably the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century, and to imagine the last days of the emperor’s retinue, who were buried alive with his dead body, beneath the giant mound of earth.

From these wayward journeys, I’ve been able to cobble together a book of my wanderings; called, ça va sans dire, The Wanderer: Travels  & Adventures Beyond the Pale, that pulls together my experiences from 9-10 countries I’ve lived and worked and studied in; and with a cast of characters you can’t forget: swinging swamis, At the Lama’s Table (Sikkim), A Jewish-Christian-Moslem, Sasha and the Maharaja (Pakistan), and Drinking with the Russian Second Secretary (Kabul); to name but a few.

There are great travelers from all lands & all times: Ibn Battuta and al-Muqaddasi, Marco Polo and Magellan, Xuanzang & Zheng He. Here is a wonderful piece of advice from Chuang-tze, on The Inner and Outer Journey:


Lieh Tzu was fond of traveling.

The adept Hu-chiu Tzu said to him: “I hear you are

fond of travel. What is it about traveling that pleases you so?”

“I travel,” replied Lieh Tzu, “in order to observe the endless

variety of things, and in this way come to understand the universal.”

“When people travel,” replied Hu, “they see merely the outside—the

husk, the shell. They learn little about the essence of things, which

is only learned from the inward journey.”

After that, Lieh Tzu never went anywhere.

“Now that you understand this,” said Hu, “you may become

a traveler again; realizing that the greatest traveler does not know

where he is going, and so is open to all experience.”


Steven Darian – The Author in Banaras, 1987

In a way, the most important thing to pack with you for the journey is––the diary. Keep it under your pillow at night, and try to write something in it every day; about people, places, experiences. And of course, your reflections. Remembering always that: life is people, whether you’re a poet or a physicist. Let me leave you with a parting thought; something I’ve learned from several aeons of travel, umpteen years of writing, and 10 years as a professional editor: Connect with the heart…and the head will follow. Whether you’re a poet, or a physicist.


-Steven Darian
Fulbright to India: 1992-1993
Fulbright to Uzbekistan: 1997-1998
Fulbright to Ukraine: 2001-2002

In Honor of Representative John Lewis

In Honor of Representative John Lewis

Approximately nine months ago (October 24-26, 2019), I had the privilege of attending the Fulbright 42nd Annual Conference and Advocacy Day.  This conference happened to coincide with Congressman’s Elijah Cummings memorial at the capitol.

As our multicultural cohort was enroute to render our respects to Representative Cummings, we encountered Congressman John Lewis.  For whatever reason, he stopped and began a conversation with one of our colleagues which resulted in the rest of us joining in the discussion which culminated with this group selfie.

As you can see, no one would have imagined that he was battling cancer and would be deceased nine months later.  Rep Lewis epitomized what we should all strive to represent:  He was a man of passion – not based on what he read or felt, but because of his experiences.  He represented what our society is currently struggling to achieve – the ability to highlight a problem but work to provide solutions through legislation and healthy debates versus violence.

His efforts were also essential as the foundation for so many who were previously deprived of the right to vote.  The picture to the right highlights how Representative Lewis’ participation on the Bloody Sunday, March on the Edmund Pettus Bridge (March 7, 1965) paved the way for people to vote, people to have equal opportunities of access, and people to achieve their personal/professional desires if they are willing to work for it.  It is unfortunate that historically, less than 40% of eligible Americans currently participate in our voting process.

Even though Representative Lewis continued his strong position to change policy that adversely impacted the minority community, his passion extended to other underrepresented groups and he consistently worked with members of opposing parties to develop mutually beneficial solutions to serve all Americans.

Representative Lewis, your legacy will live on forever and I hope that we extend your legacy by promoting dialogue, policy, and an unwavering commitment to preserve the sanctity of the greatest nation on this earth – The United States.  God Bless you in your journey home and God Bless the USA.


Janice M. Gravely, PhD

Virtual Walden Chapter

Virtual 43rd Annual Conference Logo Competition

Virtual 43rd Annual Conference Logo Competition

Logo Design Competition (Submission Deadline August 15, 2020)

The Fulbright Association is hosting a logo competition and invites submissions of compelling logos that visually represent our Virtual 43rd Annual Conference theme: “Where Does the World Go from Here? Our conference will be held virtually via Zoom on October 21-23, 2020, and will feature a special focus on global health, civil rights, race relations and immigration. Competitive logo designs will encapsulate the conference theme and incorporate design elements from a global perspective.

This is a pro bono opportunity to expand your portfolio and elevate visibility for the work of the Fulbright Association. The winner will receive special recognition on our channels and in conference materials as the logo creator and a free conference registration. If unable to attend the conference, the winner will receive a $200 gift card. For full submission guidelines, please visit this page. (note: Google Sign-in Required)

Designs are due by August 15, 2020