Niharika Kulshresth – Oregon, USA 2011

Niharika Kulshresth – Oregon, USA 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

-Niharika Kulshresth

Fulbright Exchange Teacher to Oregon, USA in 2011

January 19, 2021 0

2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Janaki Patrik

2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee: Janaki Patrik

Janaki Patrik

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

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

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

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

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

October 10, 2020 0

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