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

July 23, 2020 1

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

July 22, 2020 0

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