Gennady Filimonov – England 1986

Gennady Filimonov – England 1986

Gennady with Yfrah Neaman in Fontainbleau – 1985

Gennady in London – 1986

My Fulbright journey began in the summer of 1985, a year before I received my grant, when I was a scholarship student at Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau where I met the eminent Prof. Neaman. He was an enormous inspiration. The summer experience of private lessons, solo performances as well as chamber music performances with great colleagues and faculty at the Fontainebleau Chateau was unforgettable. We developed an excellent working relationship, and he encouraged me to come to London, where I could further my studies with him in an intense program “The Advanced Solo Studies Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama” after completing my Masters of Music at Manhattan School of Music. That summer was made extra special for me, as I also met my future wife in Fontainebleau (whom I married nine years later).

Gennady in Sintra – 1989

I was overwhelmed when I was notified about winning the grant. I remember how fortunate and lucky I felt of such a privilege to represent my country which enabled me to fulfil my dream of furthering my studies with Yfrah Neaman. I even received congratulations letters from the Senator and Governor of New York State. It was a culmination of hard work and great dreams which began for me in Odessa, Ukraine (formerly USSR) when I was seven years old at the School of Stolyarski (school for gifted children). I was now a very proud naturalized American and a Fulbright Recipient.

Prof. Neaman was a man of great integrity and encouraged us (his students) to be true to style, musical details, and honesty in music and in life. He advocated for the violinist as artist rather than merely a virtuoso. He carried on an important legacy of Carl Flesch and Max Rostal with whom he studied. Prof. Neaman taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1958 until his death in 2003, first as Professor of Violin, then as Head of Advanced Solo Studies. He was also Artistic Director of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition from 1968 to 1990. He was also instrumental in the launch of the Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition in 1979 (from 1988 the London International String Quartet Competition), of which he was joint artistic director with Yehudi Menuhin.

Gennady playing trios with Clive Greensmith – 1987

The lessons were in masterclass format where we as students performed in front of each other for Prof. Neaman. His class was comprised of top-notch players from all over the world, many of whom were already major competition winners and today they are soloists, professors, chamber musicians, a list of “Who’s Who in Music”. It was a remarkable atmosphere. I learned to appreciate many different genres and styles of music and realized that there are many possibilities in having a successful career in music.

I was lucky to share a house with my good friend and fellow student of Prof. Neaman, Sung-Sic Yang (a 1st prize winner of Carl Flesch competition, Lipizer and Paganini), whom I had met at Fontainebleau and another fellow Fulbright recipient Dileep Gangoli (clarinetist), who was coming from the Seattle Symphony (which became my orchestra eight years later). It was a time of intense study in violin and composition, filled with soirees of chamber music and visits to the Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall seeing great concerts.

Gennady with Marius May – 1988

The experience allowed me to forge lasting friendships with people who are now on top of their professions, and opened opportunities to performances in Germany, France, England and led to participation in chamber music festivals in United States and Portugal, a place I adore, and a festival I participated in for seven years at the scenic city of Sintra.

Also, these formative experiences later led to solo performances with Kensington Philharmonic of London, Carmel Bach Festival, New York Symphonic Ensemble tour of Japan and South East Asia, Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra (Odessa, Ukraine) and Seattle Symphony.

Gennady with Marius May Sintra – 1989

Upon my return, I started a career as a prolific studio recording artist. To date, I have performed in over 850 soundtracks including Heart’s The Road Home album, Dave Matthews Band, and award winning movie scores such as “Revenant” among many others. My film appearances include an award-winning motion picture FAME, and the premiere episode of The Equalizer.

I have also been soloist/concertmaster in collaboration with Rod Stewart, Linda Rondstatt, Tony Bennett, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Heart and many others. I was also a member of NY Chamber Symphony and Mostly Mozart Festival. I am a member of Seattle Symphony Orchestra since 1994, a founding member of the ODEONQUARTET with which I toured Russia (twice), Ukraine and Saint Martin in the Caribbean, owner of Filimonov Fine Violins, Expert/Appraiser and I am also a writer/contributor for STRAD magazine and Tarisio’s Carteggio Section. I am an extremely fortunate and proud Fulbright Scholar. Thank you Fulbright Association.


Gennady Filimonov

Fulbrighter to England 1986-1987

Advanced Violin Solo studies course with the eminent Yfrah Neaman OBE at Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London, England)

January 7, 2021 0

Tim Perry – South Africa 2002

Tim Perry – South Africa 2002

An Ordinary Country?

Langa Township, Human Rights Day, Tim Perry interacts with students

When we close the books on 2020, it will be measured not just in tragic loss of life to covid-19, but by a summer of Black Lives Matter protests, and the continued decline of democracy worldwide. Amid these trends, my thoughts have turned to the late Dr. Neville Alexander, the anti-Apartheid activist and political prisoner, who supervised my Fulbright year. He was a man who knew something about protest and democracy.

Dr. Neville Alexander, by Jummai – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A “coloured” intellectual, Dr. Alexander grew up in rural Eastern Cape, attended the University of Cape Town, and traveled abroad to the University of Tübingen for his PhD. Rather than live the life of a European academic, he returned to South Africa in the early 1960s to join the anti-Apartheid movement. In 1963, after the authorities infiltrated two activist groups he had founded, Dr. Alexander was convicted of conspiracy to commit sabotage, and imprisoned, alongside Nelson Mandela and others, on Robben Island.

By the time I met Dr. Alexander, South Africa was still in its first decade of democracy, but he hadn’t shed his dissident’s outlook. A committed Marxist, he vocally criticized the ANC for neglecting the poor, not to mention its “superstitious” approach to a raging AIDS epidemic. He regarded me, a State Department-funded American, with some skepticism, and once teasingly suggested I must be a CIA mole—a joke, once suspects, that masked a hard-earned circumspection.

Dr. Neville Alexander, From Dr. Neville Edward Alexander, South African History Online,

Dr. Alexander held sharp views about America’s role in the world, and he would occasionally unspool an indictment of American imperialism in our meetings. For him, American Exceptionalism was propaganda; the U.S. was no City on a Hill.

A little less predictably, he thought the same about South Africa. He rejected the “rainbow nation” rhetoric as glib, arguing that South African Exceptionalism was every bit as illusory as America’s. South Africa’s destiny, he posited, was to become an “Ordinary Country”—also the title of a book he authored—shackled by its racist past and held down by the ANC’s embrace of free market economics. The continent’s autocratic patterns would eventually tug at the ANC’s elites, he thought, who would struggle to fight an out-of-control epidemic. This was an unpopular view at the time. I admit I found it unnecessarily gloomy.

Now, twenty years later, in the midst of a global pandemic when Freedom House gauges that democracy is in decline, I cannot help but wonder whether Dr. Alexander’s dire predictions for South Africa presaged some of what besets the U.S. today: Pandemic denialism, widespread protests on race and justice, and authoritarian and nationalist strains in our political discourse. If he were alive today, I fear Dr. Alexander would be writing a second volume about another “ordinary country”—my own.

But Dr. Alexander was not a knee-jerk pessimist, and I owe it to him to share an anecdote that proves it. One day, we were discussing contemporary South African politics. Dr. Alexander diverted from the topic to tell me his “only crime” under Apartheid was to join a study group and that Robben Island was “actually fun.”

Tim Perry, 20 years later, speaking to a law enforcement group about intelligence-sharing and election protection

I was surprised. Neither of these assertions was true. Though I’d agree he was morally innocent for resisting Apartheid, his “just a study group” defense was a bit rich. Despite some silver linings, Robben Island was a brutal place—something that Dr. Alexander has acknowledged in published interviews. But I think I know what he was doing. He intended these misdirections provocatively, theatrically, even defiantly, as if still sticking his thumb in the eye of the oppressor.

Yet the choice was curiously atemporal. Why relitigate the past when you’ve already won history? What did Robben Island have to do with the problems of the new South Africa, a country quite literally run by the men once imprisoned there? The answer is that, to Dr. Alexander, majority rule was a milestone rather than a finish line. In his mind, the transition from Apartheid to democracy was forever a work in progress, so it made perfect sense to marshal his anti-Apartheid past in a critique of his democratic government. It was all a single fight for him, and he would never stop fighting. There is nothing more optimistic than that.

I still believe America is a City on a Hill. But in an era when democracy is under threat, we may have to fight like South Africans to keep it that way.

-Tim Perry

Fulbright to South Africa – 2002

December 8, 2020 0

Reflections on the Virtual Annual Conference: A new digital Fulbright world

Reflections on the Virtual Annual Conference: A new digital Fulbright world

As the pandemic was declared in March 2020, and countries started closing borders, the enormity of the situation hit us hard, and we slowly started cancelling in-person, scheduled events. We realized not only spring and summer events but all in-person events for the year would need to be cancelled. One by one, from Advocacy Day, to travel programs, chapter events, the Fulbright Prize and ultimately the Annual Conference scheduled to be held in Taiwan came to a slow halt. All headlines read – cancelled due to the pandemic.

Session # 1 – Race, Racism, and Diversity

The work from home protocols were adopted and quickly we became a remote workplace. Online video conferencing, FaceTime calls and all things digital became the new norm. With the return of newly minted Fulbrighters, we were presented with a unique opportunity to fill a gap – the lack of programming, professional development, and providing a new alumni community to many disappointed and disheartened U.S. Grantees.

This led to creating a series of zoom webinars, and the idea for providing a virtual conference to our members. We all struggled to understand what was globally happening, with the health crisis, Black Lives Matter movement galvanized by shocking displays of police brutality, increasing racism and the financial crash of global economies. With this statement in mind–“The Fulbright Association is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We stand in solidarity with our Black community, and we will continue to advocate for peace, respect and cultural understanding within our local communities and around the world.”–we started planning our virtual conference. At the suggestion of Board vice chair Cynthia Baldwin, we adopted the theme “Where Does the World Go from Here?”, inspired the book written by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pictured from top left clockwise is Caroline Levander, Krishna Guha, Shakira Simley, Maulik Pancholy and John Sargent.

The ongoing crisis determined the direction and content of the opening plenary – Global Crisis: Health, Finance, Racial Equity and Education. Celebrities like Maulik Pancholy (actor and activist) spoke on activism, bullying and growing up gay in America and Shakira Simley (Fulbrighter, food jammer and director of racial equity in the city of san Francisco) spoke on race relations and diversity. Shakira noted that, “Systemic racism is the joint operation of institutions to produce racialized outcomes, even in the absence of racist intent.”

Krishna Guha, Vice Chairman of Evercore ISI, Fulbrighter, and former national board member spoke on the economic and financial experience the world is going through. “This is an unpreceded economic shock as well as a health crisis. Devasting economic shock’s hardest burden has fallen on the most disadvantaged group of people around the world.”

John Sargent, Co-Founder, BroadReach Healthcare, Fulbrighter, and former national board member spoke on healthcare access and equality. His presentation addressed the healthcare perspective tackling COVID 19, stating, “the case for optimism is that COVID 19 while tragic has pushed many health systems to innovate and adopt for the industrial revolution technology.”

Caroline Levander,  Vice President for Global and Digital Strategy at Rice University, (Fulbrighter and National Board of Director member) played a dual role of moderator and speaker on International education, “higher ed as an industry, is seeing a cause for hope and cause for concern, with universities opening and closing, dispersing students and juggling protecting health. The industry anticipates a contraction in the US.”

Session #2 – Environmental/Addressing Current Challenges

Session #3 – The Arts as a Way Forward

The conference sessions and posters were divided into themes: Race, Racism and Diversity; Impact of the Pandemic; Environmental/Addressing Current Challenges ; The Arts as a Way Forward ; Peace, Education, and Social Justice ; COVID-19/Health; Teaching and Education; Education; International Exchange; Activism and Change. Presenters logged in from all over the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Columbia, Russia, and Vietnam.

The diversity in topics and presenters was central to the conference and the virtual platform made attendance and presenting innovative, and easier for attendees to engage. Presenters talked about racism, diversity, equal access, and using comics to create a deeper understanding of the pandemic and race. They discussed international educational exchange impacts, to dance, music and film. This conference had all the elements of relevant content for our growing Fulbright community. A session by IIE also guided on, “How alumni can help support student and scholar recruitment.” Click here to see screen shots of presenters – presenter pictures.

The 2020 Cohen dance lecture awardee was Janaki Patrik. Her talk titled, “Improvisation in Kathak,” led the audience through a captivating journey of meditation, and dance rooted in one of the oldest sub-continent (South Asian) dance forms, Kathak.

This year’s conference would not be successful if not for the support of our major donors and sponsors. Each year, donors contribute towards a scholarship fund that allows young professionals and faculty lacking institutional support to attend. National Board member Bruce Fowler and former board chair, Manfred Philipp, supported the 2020 scholarship fund.

Sponsors included institutional members, Rice University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Alabama, Auburn University and University of Arkansas. Other organizations like the National Peace Corps Association, Institute of International Education (IIE) and Strangers Guide sponsored as well.

If you attended the conference, we invite you to fill out the survey. We hope you all plan to keep updated with all our 2021 programming. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary for the Fulbright program, we will be offering a lot of unique digital programming for all our members. We would also love to hear from you all on any suggestions and ideas as well as your exchange stories for our 75th celebration planning. Please email

-Shaz Akram, Deputy Director


November 2, 2020 0

Take Someone Else’s Advice (Please!)

Take Someone Else’s Advice (Please!)

Usually in this space, I offer my insights as a career coach and someone who has participated in the Fulbright Program.  Hopefully through my writing, I have provided some helpful views and suggestions that might help you in pursuing a career or other professional interests.

I thought this month, I’d let others “do the talking” so to speak.  I regularly read articles that I receive through online publications and listservs that I subscribe to.   Some of these pieces offer valuable recommendations or sometimes just good ideas to ponder!   So here are a few I’ve read recently that I feel are worth passing on.

Flexjobs posted a noteworthy piece written by Adrianne Bibby on 10/12/20 about “How Fresh Air Can Help with Your Job Search.”  Get out and take in the fresh air!

Are you using the right “sign-off” in your emails? Jacob Took writes in Ladders, “20 Email Sign-Offs So Compelling They’ll Have to Write Back,” (9/2/20) that a better sign-off can motivate the receiver to answer back.

Sociologist Tracy Brower in Fast Company offers some basic advice on “How to Use Your Network to Survive a Bad Job Market,” (7/31/20).

I’m really tired at the end of day.  How about you? Could it be Zoom fatigue? Read “Zoom Fatigue is Real – Here’s Why Video Calls Are So Draining,” by Libby Sander (5/19/20) in Ideas.Ted.Com.

Does your resume beat the Bots?  This piece by Amanda Augustine in TopResume (N.D.) provides some good advice.  Read “What Is an ATS? How to Write a Resume to Beat the Bots.”

Networking is not so easy today.   This piece by Kristi Faulkner in Forbes provides some good advice: “How to Network Gracefully in the Time of Social Distancing,” (5/27/20).

My colleague and friend (and Fulbright ETA alum!) Sarah McLewin writes in PCDN.Global about onboarding in the virtual world: “You Landed a Social Impact Job in a Pandemic…Now What?: How to Make the Most of Remote Onboarding in “These Uncertain Times,” (10/7/20).

And are you thinking about a great idea now? You must be!  Read this piece by Laura Vanderkam in Forge to consider where to take it next: “The Perfect Conditions for a Great Idea,” (7/16/20).

And the last piece of advice (my advice here!) is that if you participated in a U.S. Fulbright program (or any other State Department sponsored program or the Peace Corps) as a U.S. citizen and are between 18-35, you should join the Career Connections Program.  Career Connections brings together U.S. alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs with expert career coaches, professionals from diverse fields, and international leaders. Whether you’re changing careers, looking to advance, or just starting out, these seminars provide invaluable opportunities to network.  The starting point in joining is visiting the International Exchange Alumni site ( and making sure you are a member, then going to the U.S. Alumni page. Career Connections events are all online right now!

—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 He can reached at

October 29, 2020 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