Michelle joined the Fulbright Association in 2012.
When and where did your Fulbright take place? What did you do during your grant year?
I received a Fulbright-Hays DDRA (Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad] award to Hungary in 2005-06. I am a cultural geographer and spent the year living and researching in Budapest exploring the built environment and manifestations of national identity. The research contributed to my dissertation at Indiana University, and then to a monograph entitled Tourist, Signs and the City: The Semiotics of Culture in an Urban Landscape.
How has your Fulbright experience impacted your life and career?
I have continued to travel and research in Hungary and my two eldest children, who were in Hungarian language preschool the year we lived there, have continued to speak the language. At Western Michigan University (WMU) I handle our Fulbright portfolio, working with students and scholars. The experience I had with the Fulbright Commission in Hungary was an inspiration for the programming I designed here at the university to support our Foreign Fulbright students. I have had wonderful partners here at WMU in working to create and nourish a Fulbright culture on campus. In 2016-17 WMU was recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholar Awards, and we were just informed that our 2023 application for the Scholar-In-Residence program was accepted. I feel fortunate to be able to continue my affiliation with Fulbright through the Association and in my professional work.
What is your most memorable experience as a Fulbright Association member?
My most memorable experience as a Fulbright Association member was a trip that the Michigan Chapter sponsored to the Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills. It was my very first activity with the association and I brought a group of our WMU Fulbright Foreign Students. The Cranbrook campus was so beautiful and just an architectural delight, having been designed by Eliel Saarinen.
Have you met any Fulbright alumni as a Fulbright Association member?
That is the best part about being a member of the Fulbright Association, meeting other members, hearing about their experiences abroad, and what they have been doing since. I especially want to give a shout out to my amazing board members whom I’ve met through our chapter, Bill Weiner, Felix Famoye, David Weindorf, Volodymyr Tarabara, and Ian Magnuson.