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

June 29, 2020 0

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

June 29, 2020 0

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. 

June 26, 2020 0

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

May 29, 2020 0

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.

May 22, 2020 0