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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

Reflections on Chapter Resilience and Pandemic Influenced Programming

Reflections on 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

Career Corner: Taking a Mid-Summer Break

Career Corner: Taking a Mid-Summer Break

It is now mid-summer, and in much of the U.S. we are dealing with a heat wave.  In “normal” times, that would mean vacationing at the beach or scurrying off to the mountains.  But with the coronavirus crisis now five months long, past “normal” activities are not practical or even possible in many instances.  This has resulted in many literally stuck in their houses or apartments with little opportunity to physically engage with others outside those they may be quarantining with.  And many live on their own, so there might be considerable isolation that has come with the crisis.   We are in a time like no other.  What the world looks like a year from now is difficult to predict, but the lingering effects of the crisis will continue, even if a vaccine is found by then.   The ways in which  people work, socialize, network, and even greet one another will likely change significantly.

Taking a break from virtual networking, completing online courses, and tweaking your resume or LinkedIn might be a good thing right now.   Recharging and reflecting are important aspects of career exploration.   There are many “indirect” ways of working toward professional change that can be done in a relaxed and reflective way.   Here are a few suggestions on what you might consider doing right now that might not appear to be career exploration, but in fact help you professionally.

  1. Cozy up with a Good Book

Reading is a time-honored summer ritual.  When considering a  career change, we tend to focus on books on the “how-tos” of how to find work.  These can be helpful, but often can be overwhelming.  Though they provide useful tips, they can also lead to anxiety:  the reader often focuses on the things they aren’t doing, and then rather than reading, gets back into high gear job searching.

For that reason, I would stay away from career books.  If you like non-fiction, find a good fantasy or mystery that takes you somewhere else – and we  all need to be somewhere else right now.  Maybe a book can transport you to the vacation you can’t physically get to right now?  If you don’t read fiction, then look at history or current events (provided they don’t reinforce the uncertainty of the present).  I personally like historical biographies and stories of exploration and discovery.   I also alternate between reading and listening to a book (using Audible).  Both have advantages: reading provides more focus and allows you  to easily re-read something, while listening to a book is good when you are simultaneously mowing your lawn.  And finally, maybe joining a virtual book club might be an option?  Consider a group of individuals that you share interests with,  but also represent diversity in age, background, ethnicity, and education. I did that recently and have really enjoyed the camaraderie.

  1. Take on a Short-term Project or Hobby

The satisfaction of completing a project or success in a hobby is psychological and can be even be physical.   Taking a break from work and looking at things that need fixing around your home, neighborhood, or for other family members can bring about important positivity.  In thinking about a project, make sure it is not overwhelming and doesn’t take too much of your time.   Come the end of the summer, you might be back into job seeking mode and then the project is half completed (and looking at it reminds you of what you haven’t finished).  So make sure it’s something that you can get done in a reasonable period of time and something you can manage with  more limited resources (since you don’t want to be going back and back to the lumber store, or endless buying supplies on Amazon).  Is there a small painting job in your home?  How about cleaning out your books from school (and giving them away)? How about cooking, baking, or starting a small garden?

  1. Reconnect with Others

Even if you can’t experience the intimacy of  a vacation with others, you can still reach out to family, friends, and even colleagues virtually right now (and you can still use the phone!).  I try to reach out to one person per week that I’ve lost contact with to “check in” to see how they are doing.  Beyond the niceties of seeing how they are managing, steer the conversation to other things like reminiscing on past things you’ve done together, future plans (after the crisis), interests you both share, and projects they might be involved in.  Connecting in an informal and generous way will leave you with a sense of having made a small difference and a good feeling.

  1. Do Little or Nothing

It might seem odd that I have to list doing nothing as something you should be doing!  But those who are internationally focused and have engaged in experiences abroad tend to have  high energy and are driven.   They see a world of opportunities but also one of challenges that they want to help work on.   With the pandemic, many are looking to volunteer in healthcare and in COVID-19 tracing.  With social justice issues in the forefront, many are considering how to engage in activism.   But taking a step back  for reflecting and “chilling” is good too (and might recharge you to deal with the important issues yet to come).  Don’t feel guilty right now about taking long walks, binge watching on Netflix, and sleeping in.   Moderation is always the key of course.   Give yourself a break.  In doing so, you will create mental space for when you need to reengage more fully again.

Taking a break from the intensity of a job search is beneficial in the long run.   Looking back on this time, you might regret not taking a step back and enjoying the moment.

—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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

Chapter Spotlight: Maine

Chapter Spotlight: Maine

For Fulbrighters across the world, storytelling serves as an important tool for advancing diplomacy and fostering cross-cultural communication. On June 18th, 2020, the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association and the World Affairs Council of Maine (WACM) partnered to celebrate stories that showcased the impact and value of international education programs, people to people diplomacy, and global outreach in Maine and internationally. The event “A Celebration of the Legacy of International Exchanges: A Storytelling Event,” highlighted the impact and value of the Fulbright and International Visitor Leadership Programs. Speakers at the event included a number of Fulbright alumni, representatives from the U.S. State Department, and FA’s own Shaz Akram. Although the program was originally organized as an in-person event, the Maine chapter quickly adapted to the COVID-19 circumstances and managed to hold an engaging and well attended online event.

WACM and the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association represent the two flagship programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department, making this a natural partnership for a storytelling event. The main goal of this event was to showcase the impact and value of both programs to nurture and advance mutual understanding between people, globally.  A favorite refrain of the Maine Chapter is, “the shortest distance between two Fulbrighters is a story.” This event not only brought Fulbrighters and other internationally minded individuals together, but it also served as a way to support and advocate for Fulbright and IVLP. The partnership between the two organizations demonstrates the importance of intercultural communication and mutual exchange.

This was the Maine Chapter’s first virtual event, and Elaine Potoker, Maine’s chapter president, referred to it as a great success. While their preference was to hold it at DiMillo’s on the Water in Portland, she says “The fact that 82 Fulbright alumni & Friends and WACM members actually attended a virtual event on a beautiful 75 degree, dry (no humidity) day in Maine was quite impressive.” The Maine Chapter is committed to providing excellent programming for chapter members and plans on holding other virtual events in the future. The Maine Chapter also hopes to continue to grow its membership in Maine, expand their local advocacy initiatives, as well as establish outreach with other educational institutions, regional chapters, and outside organizations. Ultimately, Elaine’s vision for the chapter “is that of a holographic organization (as management consultant & organizational designer, Gareth Morgan, described it.)  We are no longer a model of governance where the President does everything! The idea is to create a team where each part can re-generate the whole.”1

While we are hopeful that we will soon see an end to the current public health crisis, the Fulbright Association is proud to see that our alumni community remains strong. We are inspired and in awe of the ways that our chapters continue to find ways to gather virtually and stand in solidarity with each other during these difficult times. The Maine chapter reminds us that sometimes the simplest way we can support each other is through a story.

To view a recording of the event, please click here. If your chapter is interested in holding an online event and would like support from the Fulbright Association, please send an email to chapters@fulbright.org.

-Lisa Bochey
Fulbright ETA – Peru 2016

  1. Morgan, Gareth (1986, 1997, 2006). Images of organization. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
In Memoriam: Milton Glaser (1929 – 2020)

In Memoriam: Milton Glaser (1929 – 2020)

Image credit: Catalina Kulczar

Milton Glaser, one of the world’s greatest graphic designers and Fulbright Association Lifetime Achievement Awardee, died on June 26th, his 91st birthday.  As the New York Times puts it, Milton “changed the vocabulary of American visual culture,” designing such iconic images as the “I ♥ NY” and a psychedelic poster of Bob Dylan.  The editors of New York Magazine observed that “Milton Glaser’s work is everywhere: in logos in your supermarket, on posters you see from the side walk, and in the identity of New York itself.”

Milton often reflected that his Fulbright grant to Italy—where he studied with the painter Giorgio Morandi in Bologna—changed his life forever, attuning him to artistic traditions and sophisticated aesthetics that powered his own creativity and exceptional career.  The website of the firm he founded in 1974, www.miltonglaser.com, provides a wonderful overview of his life (including a version of “Interminable Length”) and “The Work,” which catalogues many of his campaigns and images.

Milton Glaser on his Fulbright Grant to Italy in 1952 to the Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna, Italy, studying with painter Giorgio Morandi. Image Credit: http://www.miltonglaser.com

You may agree with me that these images reveal an artist of immense reach, a creative genius who tackled each project with new eyes and a fresh palate.  Milton never rested, he never relied on his own iconography, and he never stopped looking for the new in New York, and in the wider world.  His work was bold, striking and memorable because Milton was fearless.

Poster for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, 1967 – Image Credit: http://www.miltonglaser.com

Milton was also true to the mission of the Fulbright Program, deeply believing in building meaningful friendships wherever he went, and remaining dedicated to teaching successive generations of art students.  His art is known to billions, but his favorite legacy, I will wager, was the love and connection of his friends, colleagues, clients, and students.  He was a mensch.

On a personal note, I am very sad to lose my good friend.  Milton always made time in his busy schedule to sit with me, whether in his studio or at a favorite Italian restaurant nearby.  Our conversations were wide ranging because Milton loved the world and its complexities, injustices and troubled politics.  He viewed that world through very progressive lenses, decidedly, but he was too wise to dismiss anyone’s perspective.  Warm and funny, Milton was a pleasure to know, and I already miss him terribly.

Among many works of art he gave the Fulbright Association is a t-shirt I cherish.  It boldly shouts “ART FOR LIFE.”  Milton Glaser, Fulbrighter and friend, embodied that phrase.  He embraced life with joy.  He connected art to everyday life, making it more precious and beautiful.  We are grateful for his legacy, spirit and creations.

The Fulbright community mourns his loss and shares our condolences with his wife, Shirley.

-John B. Bader, Executive Director

Virtual Conversations: How to Talk to Your Community Abroad About Black Lives Matter Protests

Virtual Conversations: How to Talk to Your Community Abroad About Black Lives Matter Protests

Students at SMA N 1 Sangatta Utara watch the Oscar Winning Short Film Hair Love as part of their lesson on narrative text

Since arriving back to the United States, most mornings I wake up to a flurry of WhatsApp messages from my students. Typically, these messages read “Miss what are you doing?” or “Miss how is the pandemic in America?” prompting casual updates on our shared experiences in quarantine. Recently, these messages have taken on a new urgency, with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests happening in more than 2,000 cities in the United States​. Worldwide people are demanding justice for the killings of Black Americans by white police officers. The killing of Black Americans is a systemic problem in the United States and requires action beyond police reform and prosecution.

These morning messages are now filled with voices of concern and confusion. Students are now asking “Miss why are people protesting in America?” Social media and the world wide web allows worry for my safety, and while I myself am not in any immediate danger, I struggle to put into words the long history of racism in the United States and what these protests mean beyond me as an individual.

The Indonesian ETAs host a virtual end of grant ceremony in place of their in person end of year conference in Jakarta

TikTok is a social media application that many Indonesian high schoolers rely on for global news and honest portrayal of experiences beyond their grasp. On such a platform, posts are spread at the swipe of a thumb, offering little pause for reflection and making misinformation rampant. The Black Lives Matter Protests in the United States of America have not been exempt from the consequences of fake news. For instance, a Tiktok of President Donald Trump supposedly mocking the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police has been circulating. The clip of President Donald Trump standing in front of a crowd exclaiming “I cant breath, I cant breath” was taken out of context. It was originally from a rally held in ​Colorado Springs where President Trump was referring not to George Floyd’s death, but to former democratic primary presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg, fumbling with his answers during a debate. Students were shocked by such a seemingly insensitive act on the matter of race in the United States.

How do you explain how such a video was taken out of context without denying the reality of which we currently exist over WhatsApp? How do you summarize the complexities of the history of race in the United States through language and cultural barriers? How do you explain the larger backdrop of a United States that still has confederate statues to a student who has never traveled beyond their hometown? To answer these questions, I turned to the support and creative brain power of my cohort. While social media platforms can accidentally cause students to promote misinformation, they can also be a teaching resource. Here are some suggestions I gained from the collective man power of my 2019-2020 Indonesian ETA cohort.

A student practices her English writing while learning about famous Black Americans

Use your social media platforms to share, repost and send information to your host community. Try to engage in the post before posting in order to make sure you yourself are not also spreading false information. When sharing posts, consider translating some of the information, making it even more accessible to your students. There are many social media accounts currently explaining the Black Lives Matter movement and protests in America. Reshare a post on your story or personal accounts that is visible to your students. Also, many social media accounts share free books and resources that you can also repost and share with your community abroad. Many social media platforms allow you to post polls or host a Q&A with your followers. Make the most of these functions by allowing your community to ask you questions and providing answers on your story. For members of your host community that may not be on social media, share articles and posts to any WhatsApp groups you are still a part of as well. This will broaden your reach of interaction with your host community to anyone who might be curious and not sure how to ask you.

Similar to when you were teaching grammar and vocabulary to your students and would have to review the material and create an age appropriate lesson, you can review the information about the Black Lives Matter movement and create a lesson plan to teach your students. Your lesson plan can include explaining the history of police brutality in America coupled with videos of people protesting and the reason why they are protesting. You could end the lesson with an activity where you ask students to create a poster they would carry to a Black Lives Matter protest. There are several online resources that also provide lesson plans to teach students about the Black Lives Matter movement that you can lean on. Take a look at the “For Children” tab on websites like, blmresources.net, for children’s books on race that may be more appropriate for students where English is their second, third, or even fourth language.

Another way you can approach conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States is through comparisons to your host country. An article posted in the Jakarta Post highlighted how systemic racism is not unique to the United States. While the history and cultural contexts differ greatly, ​this article​ discusses the hashtag #PapuanLivesMatter, a spin off of #BlackLivesMatter trending in Indonesia, calling for Indonesians to reflect on their own history with racism and oppression. Papua is an eastern region of Indonesia notoriously exploited for its abundance of natural resources, while simultaneously being denied basic public amenities. This offers a starting point to both improve your understanding as an ETA of the political climate in your host country as well as have students draw their own parallels and make their own conclusions on the Black Lives Matter movement.

From this, I was able to meet my students on a common ground of understanding, allowing us to share about how racism persists in our respective countries and what we can do to combat it as individuals. Similarly to how the shared experience of social isolation once prompted conversations around COVID-19, recognition of racism across the world has facilitated meaningful WhatsApp conversations.

-Lucy Srour, 2019-2020 ETA to Indonesia

-Ammarah Rehman, 2019-2020 ETA to Indonesia

Fulbright in the Classroom: Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School 5th Grade Graduates Visit with a U.S. Diplomat and Fulbright Alumnus

Fulbright in the Classroom: Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School 5th Grade Graduates Visit with a U.S. Diplomat and Fulbright Alumnus

On Tuesday, June 23, graduating 5th graders at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School (TMALS) had a Google Meet conversation with United States diplomat and Fulbright alumnus Mr. Leland Lazarus. “It was such an honor to hang out with you,” said Mr. Lazarus to more than 20 TMALS scholars at the end of the meeting. “You are so incredibly smart,” he added. “You are going to be changing the world.”

TMALS, located on West 151st Street in Manhattan, with “a population of mostly Black and Brown students,” according to Principal Dr. Dawn Brooks-DeCosta, “embraces student-centered, culturally responsive, antiracist pedagogy that enhances students’ learning and success in school.  Administrators and teachers actively listen to students’ ideas and observe student individual needs in order to inform curricular priorities, direction and design. Students’ social and historical contexts are reflected in TMALS’s daily practices: student council, self-awareness leaders and ambassadors give students a true voice in the social construct of TMALS. Students lead social-emotional and mindfulness practices daily in the classroom, and peer mediators work with students to resolve conflict, which motivates students to take ownership of their actions, lives, and educational experiences.” TMALS mission is “to provide a robust holistic learning experience for each child through social emotional learning, cultural responsiveness and belonging.  We are the village that raises the child.” 

Dr. Brooks-DeCosta has led the school with a focus on “cultural responsiveness, antiracist pedagogy and social emotional learning.” Her research was written on Black Principal Perspectives on Social-emotional Learning and Culturally Responsive Leadership in Urban Schools: the Role of Beliefs, Values, and Leadership Practices.

Mr. Lazarus is a scholar of Chinese history and language. Fluent in Mandarin, he spent three years as a U.S. diplomat to China. Currently, he is posted to the Caribbean, and is usually based in Barbados. Since the quarantine, however, he has been living in Miami, where his wife works as a medical doctor and is on the front lines of battling Covid-19.

Mr. Lazarus asked the 5th graders many questions: What language do they speak in China? What do you think they eat in China? He shared with the scholars that he tried foods in China that he had never tried before, such as silk worms. He also discovered that what he thought was his favorite Chinese food, General Tso’s Chicken, was an American invention that did not exist in China. TMALS scholars shared what they knew about Chinese food and holidays.

The 5th graders listened with rapt attention as Mr. Lazarus described his experience of Chinese curiosity about someone from a different culture, specifically a Black person. “In China,” he said, “I had to learn the language and get used to the people who live there. There were very few people who looked like me.”

What is diversity?, asked Mr. Lazarus. He noted that TMALS prided itself on being a school of diversity and inclusion. TMALS scholars shared that they had studied Mexico, Jamaica, and the Black Liberation Movement in the United States. Some also mentioned what they knew about Brazil and the Russian Revolution. The scholars also talked with Mr. Lazarus about current events, such as how the murder of George Floyd made them feel, and the toppling of statues honoring proponents of slavery around the world. 

“It shows the power of young people,” said Mr. Lazarus, “young people just like you… who have the power to create change.” 

Mr. Lazarus recommended that the 5th graders learn a foreign language “so you can communicate with other people around the world.” He also encouraged them to live in other countries to learn their history, culture and politics “so that you can influence.”  

After graduating college, Mr. Lazarus received a Fulbright grant to Panama, where he taught English. The Fulbright grant sends U.S. students and scholars to other countries to live and learn about their cultures and histories, and it brings students and scholars from other countries to the United States to do the same. After his “life-changing” Fulbright experience, Mr. Lazarus and his parents, who are Afro-Panamanian, started The Dream Scholarship, which financially supports Panamanian students who want to study English in the United States.

Mr. Lazarus advised TMALS scholars to consider applying for a Fulbright grant when they are in college.

Before departing, Mr. Lazarus asked TMALS scholars if they thought his work as a U.S. diplomat was interesting. “Yes!,” came a chorus of replies.

TMALS teacher Ms. Lucile Middleton called Mr. Lazarus a “history-maker,” someone who influences events and makes history happen. At the end of the conversation, she expressed her hope that TMALS 5th graders go on to become “history-makers” themselves.

-Alison Gardy

Alison Gardy has served as a Fulbright Association board member (2000-2006, 2017 to present) and was president of the Greater New York Chapter of the Fulbright Association (2000-2002). She had a Fulbright grant to Mexico in 1988, where she was lucky to receive the stories of a family who migrated from rural Mexico to the outskirts of the capital city for a better life. 

Career Corner: Putting Your Fulbright Experience to Work for Social Justice and Global Positive Change

Career Corner: Putting Your Fulbright Experience to Work for Social Justice and Global Positive Change

Often when thinking about a career we separate our activism from our professional aspirations. Movements and causes that we feel strongly about we relegate to working on during our “off” hours: weekends, evenings, and holidays. These efforts are not our day jobs. This is an artificial distinction. We only have to look at those who have dedicated their lives to social justice causes and global positive change to see that their work was their full-time job, and not just a weekend diversion.

Taking steps to advance a career involves considering myriad factors. Some are grounded in financial necessity: I need to get a job that pays my rent, or my student loans! Or sometimes we feel the direction we take must align with the educational investment we have already made.  We ask ourselves: if I’ve spent all this time, effort, and money to get a degree in “X” then I really should make that my career, right?  These are reasonable considerations. But often they might act as blinders on a horse: only allowing us to see that is in front of us, and not allowing for a wider view of how we can contribute to the social good through a meaningful career.

We are in a time like no other. How people of color in the U.S. and worldwide are treated and marginalized must be addressed. Protests, statue removals,  and the questioning of the status quo (including the traditional role of policing) is taking place daily. Many of us now recognize that our “good future” or “luck” is in actuality the result of systemic advantages that we have been given and others denied.  It also relates to crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. Life as we know it has been turned on its head. The “new” normal has yet to be revealed.

A Fulbright grant is often motivated by the altruistic desire to do good: be that to advance cultural understanding, promote the arts to improve community life, foster scientific research to  better global health, or build peace through education. I have found with rare exception that those returning from a Fulbright experience have developed increased  awareness of the advantages that Americans have.  And if their Fulbright experience has taken place in a non-Western society, they recognize that there are many more “have nots” than “haves” in the world.  And they recognize that working to improve conditions doesn’t end with the completion of a Fulbright experience.

Can the convergence of passion for change and the current political and public health conditions lead to a career strategy redirection?  Can we pull off the blinders and consider careers that directly address some of the challenges we face? If you had not thought about a career in public health, is the current COVID-19 crisis offering you a chance to see how you might move in that direction? Could the current unrest and protests direct your interest to education in social justice?  How might you start this exploration?

Check Your Own Community First

It seems that the “big problems” facing the world draw our attention.  But I would suggest that the issues that we might work on – public health or social justice-  are also local.  Start at home.   The question then becomes: what work in my community needs attention?

Make Changes in Your Current Work

Of course there are some jobs that are designed directly to make change. But I would argue that most anyone can find space regardless of their work to advance important social goals. A retail professional can urge their employer to offer products that align with environmental values. An accountant can devote volunteer time to support the needs of a not-for-profit. An IT professional can offer their expertise gratis to social justice groups trying to advance justice reform.  Find space in your current work to improve social conditions.

Transition from Volunteer to Paid Staff

Those organizing a rally or protest often come together spontaneously. They are usually volunteers. As the effort grows, there might be the need to sustain the effort with staff who are paid. This will require getting financial support through donations, fundraising, or grants.  Once funding is obtained, then professional staff can be hired. As a volunteer, your efforts might lead to paid employment continuing to the do the work you are passionate about.

 Research, Reach Out, and Plan

If you come to the conclusion that your goal is a career that allows you to apply your convictions, you will need to spend time researching and planning. Not all social causes easily allow for paid work, but many do. You need to consider which ones can support a career.  Fields such as  human rights, humanitarian assistance, international development, legal advocacy, and policy change present clearer pathways to a career. Often through additional education or training, you can prepare yourself and learn the steps you should take.  Having  a game plan is important: making connections, training or education, and volunteer experience will likely be part of it.

The passion you brought to your Fulbright experience can be redirected now to other important social issues that communities face.  Many can benefit from what you bring to a cause.

—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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

Outreach to Returned Fulbrighters

Outreach to Returned Fulbrighters

The Fulbright Association has also been an effective advocate for the returned alumni by contacting elected officials and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for additional support.  There has been wide support from many alumni and organizations wanting to assist initially in evacuation and then professional mentorship. We also commend the work the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs have done to support the returning Fulbrighters. The ECA COVID-19 resource page outlines how ECA has supported affected Fulbrighters, with special emphasis on U.S. participants:

    • Covering the cost of transportation back to the U.S. after the March 19 suspension, including 24/7 hotline to arrange that travel;
    • Funding equivalent to stipend payments through June 30 for participants who started in fall 2019 and through October 31 for those that started their programs in 2020;
    • Providing an additional $1000 transition allowance to help pay for health insurance and other unanticipated needs;
    • Conferral of Fulbright alumni status on all participants affected by the program’s suspension.
      For 2019-20 Fulbright participants interested in another Fulbright opportunity, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has waived any restrictions on reapplication privileges for 2019-2020 U.S. participants and encourages U.S. participants to consider Fulbright again in the future.

We have also been providing one year of free membership to all newly returned Fulbrighters, and have made sure all these young professionals are connected to the chapters close to them. It’s a tough time to be back, with economies struggling and unemployment at record high levels, but we are doing what we are best at: supporting the Fulbright alumni community and serving these newly returned Fulbrighters. If interested in our professional development programs please email Shaz Akram at shaz.akram@fulbright.org

Advocacy Update: May 2020

Advocacy Update: May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected challenges—and opportunities—when advocating for the Fulbright Program on Capitol Hill. The challenges are obvious. To protect our members and advocates, we had to cancel our March 26 Advocacy Day. Congressional offices closed to visitors. The State Department had to suspend the Program itself, sending Fulbrighters home prematurely. And, of course, the pandemic has raised barriers to travel and doubts about the future of exchanges.

On the face of it, that’s a pretty bleak landscape.

We quickly learned that there are always opportunities in crisis, especially if you have spent the time—as this community has for over 40 years—to build strong, bipartisan relationships.

First, we learned that congressional offices are operating just like a lot of other offices. Staff are working remotely, glad to take phone calls rather than visitors. So we have had calls with many offices, with a special focus on senators on the Appropriations Committee, including:

    • Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
    • Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
    • Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX 2)
    • Representative Ted Budd (R-NC 13)
    • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
    • Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN 3)
    • Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
    • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    • Representative David Trone (D-MD 6)
  • Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA 5)
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Senator James Lankford (R-OK)
  • Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  • Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
  • Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)
  • Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY 5)

Second, we found that staff members and their bosses continue to be strongly supportive of the Fulbright Program. In fact, we had decided before the pandemic to ask for added funding for the Program with a total ask of $300 million, to begin rectifying years of flat funding.  Members of Congress, from both parties and both chambers, were very open to considering such a spending boost, despite many other pressing priorities caused by the pandemic.

And third, they shared our concern about the suspension of the Program and its future. We reassured them that the State Department had facilitated the return of all Americans who wanted to come home, that all Fulbrighters would receive their full grants, and that returning Fulbrighters would receive an additional $1000 relocation fund. We explained that many Fulbrighters chose to continue their work, especially those in the U.S.

We also explained to them that the pandemic has required agile planning for the coming year, as conditions continually change. The current plan calls for a delay in the start of many grants, with confidence that the Program will resume more fully in 2021. They understood and supported the argument that an interruption in funding was not acceptable to our community nor a viable policy option, particularly as that would cede exchange leadership to other countries, including China. Every office assured us of their full support for stronger funding in the next fiscal year.

These assurances guarantee nothing, so we will remain active and vigilant in the coming months. I urge you to contact your chapter to explore how you can get involved, especially this summer. You can also email advocacy@fulbright.org and explore our advocacy website.

-John Bader
Executive Director, Fulbright Association

Chapter Spotlight: Louisiana

Chapter Spotlight: Louisiana

After returning from her Fulbright Specialist project in Nepal in 2018, Patrice Moulton was eager to continue to engage with the Fulbright network and continue to spread the value of international education and cultural exchange. While she was looking forward to the opportunity to get involved with alumni in her home state of Louisiana, she was disappointed to find out that Louisiana did not have an active chapter. Patrice shared, that she has always believed in the mantra “be the change you want to see.” So she connected with the Fulbright Association national office to ask what it would take to start a chapter, and the rest was history.

Patrice says that her initial challenge to starting the chapter was the tedious application process. She says, “I guess that others took for granted that I knew more than I did. I was so green and needed some hand holding just to understand the forms, process, and procedures.” Despite her challenges, she found it rewarding to connect with other Fulbright alumni and work towards the common goal of starting a chapter. She dove in head first and immersed herself in new media tools, including the Fulbrighter App, which she used to publicize her first official chapter event in April 2020.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Patrice’s story is the fact that she was able to take on all of these new challenges despite the changing and uncertain circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a professor of psychology at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Patrice was already hurled into the new system of distance learning and working from home. Nonetheless, Patrice found beauty in the process. She says that “There are always joys to be found in the most unlikely places, even COVID 19. I think that during this time of uncertainly, people are looking for meaning, for ways to connect, and for interactions not related to work. I think these dynamics are helping us find and connect our Fulbrighters in Louisiana.”

Since the launch of the Louisana Chapter, Patrice and her board members have hosted two events: a virtual Meet and Greet and a “Coping with COVID” virtual coffee hour. One of her favorite moments so far was when a visiting Fulbrighter from Peru shared with their group that she was celebrating her Birthday so far from home. The entire group turned on their microphones in the Zoom room, a fellow alum yelled “wait, wait!” and returned on screen with a guitar, and there was a wonderful sense of community as everyone sang a round of Happy Birthday! For the Louisiana chapter members, that moment of warmth was a bright spot in a time of global uncertainty.

Patrice is eager for the days when the Louisiana Chapter will be able to hold in person events, but for now, the chapter board is focused on setting a firm foundation of members. They want to utilize the Fulbrighter App to gather members virtually and begin to form a supportive community. The chapter will continue to explore ways to connect and make a difference in their community. A few ideas for the near future include a virtual evening of art and continued coffee breaks with short focused discussions. Depending on COVID impact with schools in the fall, they would also like to explore the possibility of participating in Fulbright in the Classroom initiative

Until then, Patrice says, “I look forward to continuing to be involved and exploring how we, as Fulbright, can make a difference in the world by building and sustaining relationships. I feel like the world needs more Fulbright right now.”

Are you interested in starting a chapter in your community? Visit our website for more details and send an email to chapters@fulbright.org to bring Fulbrighters together in your region.

-Lisa Bochey
Fulbright ETA – Peru 2016

Alumni Profile: Jinan Banna

Alumni Profile: Jinan Banna

I visited Doka Estate with Professor Carmen Pinto from Universidad Veritas to learn about how coffee is cultivated and processed.

I spent a few days in Mexico for the Congreso Latinoamericano de Nutrición, hosted by the Sociedad Latinoamericana de Nutrición, and am pictured here with colleagues.

My research focuses on obesity prevention in underserved populations, particularly during critical periods in growth and development such as adolescence. In addition, as a large portion of my time is dedicated to instruction, I have also engaged in scholarly work related to development of effective instructional strategies. These areas of focus reflect the current needs in the state of Hawai‘i, as obesity remains a pressing problem. Further, there are higher rates of obesity and associated chronic conditions in underserved populations such as Filipinos. To address high rates of chronic disease and existing health disparities, it is crucial to provide high-quality training to budding nutrition professionals, which drives my research on instructional techniques. Health promotion for chronic disease prevention is a topic of great interest in the US and is a large component of the courses I teach at my institution. As obesity rates increase around the globe, examining strategies to encourage maintenance of healthy weight in diverse settings is of paramount importance.

My interest in serving as a Fulbright Specialist stemmed from an interest in applying the knowledge I have gained in performing studies in the US to other settings to address the needs of underserved populations exhibiting similar chronic health issues. The problems populations in the US face with regards to nutrition are similar to those many others around the globe are now facing, and the techniques I have used in performing research and teaching in the US may be applied to address these. I had an interest in working with other health professionals abroad to combat health disparities.

I met with Noel Payne at Universidad Veritas in September 2018 to discuss integration of information on nutrition into two of Noel’s courses: Sustainable Lifestyles and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

I engaged in a program to train faculty at Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica in course development. I taught a basic nutrition course for the faculty and met with faculty individually to assist them with incorporation of nutrition information into their courses. Universidad Veritas offers several courses in Health and Human Development within the sustainability focus at that institution, and faculty benefited from training in development of syllabi for additional courses to complement those existing.

The professors at Universidad Veritas kindly took me out to try local food, including to one of their favorite spots for frozen yogurt.

One of the photos captured my meeting with Noel Payne to discuss integration of information on nutrition into two of Noel’s courses: Sustainable Lifestyles and Sustainable Consumption and Production. I similarly worked with faculty to integrate resources related to nutrition into a number of different courses.

During my stay in Costa Rica, I also conducted a workshop related to conducting research in the nutrition field at the Universidad Ciencias Médicas in Costa Rica. This workshop provided faculty with tools to develop research projects and publish in the field.

I also took a few days to travel to Mexico to present my research at the Congreso latinoamericano de Nutrición (SLAN). At this meeting, I shared results of a trial seeking to promote healthy eating in underserved groups using text message.

I also had the opportunity to try a number of tasty local foods, such as pejivalle, as well as tour a coffee farm with one of the professors. In addition, I took several cooking classes to further familiarize myself with local cuisine.

Pejivalle, a very nutritious fruit often consumed with mayonnaise in Costa Rica

I continue to correspond with those with whom I connected while I was in Costa Rica, and engage in discussion on nutrition-related topics. The experience was very beneficial to me professionally, as I am able to incorporate relevant aspects of my experience into my teaching. I am able to draw parallels between the settings in which I work and others. I also gained familiarity with the structure and content of programs abroad to continue to improve the offerings for our students.

– Jinan Banna

Fulbright Specialist to Costa Rica 2018-2019

Calling volunteers for online English conversation practice with New Delhi NGO

Calling volunteers for online English conversation practice with New Delhi NGO

Fulbright alumna Holly Wheeler (Fulbright-Nehru ETA to India, 2016-2017) and U.S. Exchanges alumnus Pradeep Kumar (India, Whatcom Community College, Tourism & Hospitality, 2011-2012) are collaborating to provide English education to students in Sanjay Colony, a slum in New Delhi. Wheeler was an English teacher at Shyama Prasad Vidyalaya and is now an Education Abroad Advisor at Northern Arizona University and Co-President of the Fulbright Association Arizona Chapter.

Kumar studied tourism and hospitality at Whatcom Community College through the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program, a U.S. Exchanges program, and started his own business, Delhi by Locals, after returning to India. He also started an NGO, Learning by Locals, with fellow CCI Program alumni, Lalit Saini (India, Houston Community College, TV and Film Production, 2018- 2019) and Alka Sharma (India, Northern Virginia Community College, Computer-Aided Design and Drafting, 2018-2019) to give back to the local community. Funded by part of Delhi by Local’s profits, Learning by Locals runs English and computer classes several times per week for youth in Sanjay Colony, a slum in Delhi. The NGO also hosts workshops on social issues, organizes field trips, and helps young people connect to job and internship networks.

In response to COVID-19, Learning by Locals (LBL) transitioned to all online courses at the start of lockdown in March. After engaging more with the community, an urgent need emerged to expand course offerings for free to address mental health and learning motivation for the colony, and now LBL has started teaching over 100 new students in 10 new classes taught by LBL and friends around the world, including Wheeler and playwright Harley Adams (Fulbright Student Researcher to India, 2019-2020). Guests are invited, including Learning by Locals friends in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, as well as Fulbright Association Arizona Chapter Board Member, Larissa Goulart da Silva (Brazil, FLTA to University of Nebraska, 2017-2018). Expanded class topics include not only multiple levels of English, but also computer skills (basic skills, Google tools), art, dance, filmmaking, playwriting, theatre, and emotional/mental wellbeing—all taught online via video conference.

Conversation group leaders are needed for the Advanced English Discussion class taught by Wheeler and Kumar. Fulbrighters and friends of Fulbrighters are welcome, for once or multiple times. The course discussions center around international topics, wellness and crisis response, and global citizenship. The class meets from 6:00-7:00pm India time on Tuesdays and Thursdays now through the month of June.

If you are interested in connecting with India’s next young leaders and supporting the work of U.S. Exchange alumni, please contact wheelerholly@icloud.com as soon as possible to set the date and prep for the informal conversation class.

Career Corner – Focus on your “Paper”

Career Corner – Focus on your “Paper”

In my last column, I recommended using the COVID crisis as a time to invest in yourself. With an uncertain job market, making connections and building your skills are good ways of using your time.

You might also focus right now on your “paper.” What I mean here, are the written ways in which you present yourself (that at one time were only on paper!): resume or CV, cover letter, LinkedIn, and other written forms.

Lead with Fulbright

After returning from your experience in the Fulbright program you need to update your social media and resume to mention your time abroad. Even if your Fulbright experience was short, it was still valuable, and you made important contributions to the community you worked in. Make sure it’s clearly noted on your resume and LinkedIn profile. It’s important to specifically and accurately indicate your service, reducing abbreviations where you can. For instance, if you were an ETA, you might write English Teaching Assistant, so that those unfamiliar with the Fulbright program know what you were doing abroad. Also state the period of your service and country.

Metrics are Important

Increasingly employers are interested in “how much” of something you did. Metrics speak to your ability to supervise, organization, manage, and other tasks that a potential employer needs done. If you taught as an ETA, mention how many students you had, the number of classes, and how large the school was. If you oversaw a budget, not likely in the Fulbright program, but maybe in another job, indicate the amount, particularly if it was $10,000 or more.

Metrics also look at outcomes: how much was produced or was developed as a result of your efforts.

Create Points of Curiosity

Your resume will be the document that an interviewer will launch the interview from. Create in it opportunities for conversation and curiosity. It is important to draw a reader to you and show how your experiences are not only relevant to their work, but intriguing. I find that listing the countries you have experienced – as a study abroad student, Fulbrighter, or in other projects (but not so much as a tourist) – creates an opportunity for the interviewer to ask questions: especially if you’ve been to some places off the beaten trail. Besides travel, consider other facets of your experience that might cause an interviewer to ask questions. Are you studying an obscure language? Involved in a project that is unique and shows innovation?

Flawless Design and Presentation

A resume, cover letter, and even a LinkedIn page is not about approximation. It is about precision. Errors in punctuation, spelling, or formatting will be noticed by an interviewer and might signal to them (maybe incorrectly) that you are careless or even sloppy. I remind my own students and clients: make sure your punctuation, syntax, and grammar are free of mistakes. We all make mistakes in our writing, even if we have reviewed it multiple times. Please have a friend read your resume or other writing over and give you honest feedback and edits. I learned from my father who was a letterpress operator (they don’t exist anymore) to proofread text backwards, word by word – out loud.

David J. Smith, Adjunct Faculty, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Make Sure That What You Offer is Obvious

You will get a job for only this reason: you have something (skills, knowledge, connections, etc.) that the employer needs. They will not hire you merely because of your enthusiasm, or your education, or that you are polite and inquisitive in an interview. These are important, but not critical. But making the case that you can do something that the employer needs: that’s the ticket to the job. As such, if you have something that relates directly to the position you are applying for, make sure that is obvious in your resume and in your cover letter. I recommend a summary of qualifications section at the top of a resume below your contact information indicating specifically how your skills can contribute to what that specific employer is looking for. This means you need to tailor each resume for each job you apply for.

In the end, your “paper” shows your seriousness and professionalism. Make sure it puts you in the best possible light.

—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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

Alumni Profile: Addison Dlott

Alumni Profile: Addison Dlott

Teaching at SMK Padang Kala outside of Kota Bharu, Kelantan

One of the first things I remember from my English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia was jotting down a phrase in my phone: We’re all living the same experiences, just different realities. Someone said it to me in passing, but I knew I had to remember it because I thought it so pointedly reflected what cross-cultural exchange was all about.

Meeting my mentor, Nazila, for the first time in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

I felt the weight of that comment when I stepped into my community. I felt transported back to high school at the semi-rural school I taught at in the state of Kelantan. A group of girls welcomed me into their circle. We hung out after school and listened to music, spent weekend afternoons drinking teh tarik and evenings slurping tom yum in front of the TV. The discussions of boys, music, pop culture and
beauty felt oddly familiar.

“Who’s a better rapper, Cardi B or Nicki Minaj?”

“Is Jason Momoa your favorite actor?”

“What face cleanser are you using?”

“You must have a favorite BTS member!”

My mother, a high school teacher back in the United States, would text me and ask how I was fairing, how school was. I told her that my days mirrored hers, just 12 hours ahead. School began at 7:30 a.m. Ended at 2 p.m. Lunch for upperclassmen happened after lunch for lowerclassmen. The library served as a place for students to hang out. After school held opportunity for sports or other extracurriculars.

The relevance of the phrase was re-emphasized when a student who I connected with over American rock music WhatsApp messaged me to wish me a Happy Easter. Four weeks had passed since I left Malaysia at the urging of the State Department. I asked him how he was, what he was up to. He said he was just at home doing homework, but having a hard time focusing, given the global pandemic.

SMK Padang Kala’s netball team preparing for the championship

“I’m a bit frustrated, bcoz it’s too much.”

I found a moment of clarity after reading his message. My family in the United States and my family in Kelantan were experiencing a collective pain over the COVID-19 pandemic. Culture, values and private lives, of course, change the way we experience the world. But at the root of it, while my former student and I are on opposite sides of the world, we are feeling vastly similar emotions, just in different contexts.

Eating homecooked tom yum with students

Back in my childhood home, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on my time in Malaysia and mapping my next steps. While I am unsure what the future holds for me, I will continue to pursue creative and personally fulfilling opportunities. And though my alumni status came earlier than I had hoped, I’m thankful for the short time I had to build these bridges of greater understanding. And I believe those bridges will continue to build, even amidst COVID-19, though it may look a bit different than what I initially expected. I messaged him back.

Meeting to say goodbye to students in the afternoon before flying back to the United States

“Same, honestly.”

 

At the end of the day, we’re all just living the same experiences, just different realities.

 

Addison Dlott
Fulbright ETA Malaysia 2020