Chapter Spotlight: Chicago

Chapter Spotlight: Chicago

Fulbright Alumni and Friends at the Chicago Chapter Winter Wonderland Event

Across the country, our Fulbright Association chapters are providing excellent opportunities to bring together alumni and friends of the Fulbright Program. Last month, the Chicago Chapter and the Institute of International Education co-hosted the annual “Winter Wonderland” reception, which brings the Fulbright community together for a night of networking and socializing. The event brought together 70 guests representing 22 different countries, highlighting the vibrant and diverse members of the Fulbright community.

The programming featured vocalist and Jazz performer Tina Crawley, who performed with pianist Amr Fahmy. The music was a special treat, as Crawley was voted the Best Gospel Entertainer in 2015 by the Chicago Music Awards. She performed her interpretation of an array of pop songs with a jazz feel. Students and scholars alike were brought to their feet dancing and singing along to her jazzy beats. The event was an exceptional opportunity for Fulbrighters and friends to celebrate last year’s accomplishments as well as recharge for the start of a new semester.

Both new and existing members of the Fulbright Association joined the Chicago Chapter as they welcomed the newly elected Chicago Chapter board. During this event, the former president of the Chapter, Meredith McNeil, introduced the new president, Dr. Edel Marie Jose. Edel Marie is looking forward to working with the new team of board members, claiming, “Their invigorating spirit and excitement for the upcoming year will bring many new goals and events to the Chicago Chapter.” Guests were encouraged to ask questions and inform the new board members of how the chapter can better serve its members.

Board members Adan Fuss, Marilyn Sussman, Suzanne McBride, Edel Marie Jose, Meredith McNeil, Teuta Peja and past Fulbright Chicago Chapter President Don Garner

In the upcoming year, the newly elected board hopes to highlight the achievements of the Fulbright alumni and showcase their expertise in ways that give back to the community. They plan to do this by hosting a variety of workshops and speaker series in different locations to expand their reach of alumni in the area. An event they are most looking forward to is their Spring Symposium. The event, which will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women, invites Fulbright alumni and friends to celebrate women’s empowerment and encourage others to continue working towards gender equality.

The Fulbright Association national office is proud to work with dedicated chapter leaders like those on the Chicago team. Those interested in joining their local chapter can click here to log in or join the Fulbright Association today. To view a complete list of our national chapter network, please click here.

 

February 26, 2020 0

Career Fairs: How to Prepare, How to Engage

Career Fairs: How to Prepare, How to Engage

Looking for work demands different strategies and forms of engagement.   Some individuals are comfortable networking and looking for opportunities at events including career fairs.   Others are not as sociable and would rather more discreetly apply for jobs online.  Still others are looking for more direct referrals for jobs and seek informational interviews and one on one meetings with people who can make connections.   Ideally, looking for work should include all of these approaches.  In some cases, you might need to do more of one than the other.  For instance, if you are looking for work in a field that is narrowly focused with only a limited number of employers, one on one connections might make most sense.  If on the other hand, the types of jobs you are looking for are seemingly plentiful, and then online might be a viable approach (although you should also include other strategies).

Career fairs are typical venues for identifying potential employers.  These opportunities can be good places to get a “lay of the land” so to speak.  By attending, rather than applying for jobs at the fair (which you can do at times), you should be more focused on the types of employers who are there.  Are they small firms or international groups?  Not for profits, or for profits?  Local or federal government?   Getting a handle of who exactly is hiring should result in your better honing a pitch and revising your resume.

If you are fairly sure about what you are looking for at a career fair, then attending with the intent to engage an employer at a fair is important.  In that case, dressing for an interview, bringing resumes, and having business cards would be in order.  Though your conversation with a representative of an employer might be short and in the midst of other conversations and crowd noise, making a good first impression is important and critical.  Representatives tend to be either (1) human resources staff who might have only a general sense of what the firm is hiring for, but can provide specific guidance on the process or (2) program specific staff, who know more about specific needs, but might have less insight into the hiring steps.  In either case, your initial conversation can leave an important lasting impression and help advance you to the formal application process.

David J. Smith, Adjunct Faculty, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Career Fairs can be intimidating.   There is much a buzz, they can be crowded, and as a result might cause some anxiety and stress.  Try to find a quiet place to take notes, review your resume, grab coffee, and then reengage.   A good outcome is meeting someone, possibly someone also looking for work who you can share notes with, or a more senior professional who might offer you some advice.   Get their contact information and try to connect with them later through LinkedIn,  for coffee or a Skype call.

In any case, you should not shy away from a career fair.   Some are general and deal with a range of employers such as a specific kind (e.g., not for profit work) or governmental sector.  Others might be more specific as to a field such as international development, or peacebuilding, or for a specific group, like State Department program alums (like Fulbright!).  As you can see, I linked to a few I’ve attended lately.   They are a good opportunity to get your feet wet and see what opportunities you should be considering.

—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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

February 20, 2020 0

Alumni Profile: John A. Lindburg

Alumni Profile: John A. Lindburg

Almost a century ago, in 1925, a young J. William Fulbright traveled from Arkansas outside the U.S. for the first time to study on a Rhodes Scholarship. His overseas experience was transformational. Both his heart and mind were opened to foreign cultures, people, values, and ideas, and he also gained valuable new perspectives on the U.S. Thus, In 1946, as a U.S. Senator, Fulbright pioneered the international exchange legislation bearing his name.

Venezuela – 1966-1967

Venezuela – 1966-1967 – John Lindburg (right) & his roommate and Fulbright Grantee – Norbert Hanus (left)

Twenty years later, in 1966, I had a similar life-changing experience thanks to a Fulbright grant to study in Venezuela. My highly rewarding time abroad inspired me to devote my career to contributing to a more informed, just, and peaceful world. I have done my best to further internationally more knowledge, mutual understanding, cooperation, human rights, and the free flow of information and ideas across borders.

Now after retirement, I continue to engage in part-time consulting, and travel overseas when possible. I forever will remain grateful for my Fulbright grant given its profound effect on my entire life.

Frankly, my education in Venezuela during 1966-1967 resulted more from immersion in the culture rather than from attendance at classes at the Central University in Caracas. In fact, all classes were suspended for months because the Venezuelan army closed the university with tanks after student activists had shot a senior army official. Consequently, I attended a class at the private Catholic University, traveled within the country and region, socialized and discussed many topics with fellow students and others, joined a basketball team, and read many books while sitting outdoors in beautiful Caracas, “the city of eternal springtime.” I soaked it all in like a sponge.

John Lindburg’s Venezuelan ID – 1966

Living in Venezuela at that time also revealed to me some of the root causes of the severe unrest and hardships that exist today. There was an enormous gap between the wealthy few and the many poor. Furthermore, U.S. companies profiting from Venezuela’s vast oil reserves were perceived by some as contributing to the local poverty. University students were being openly recruited to fight with guerrillas in the hills to overthrow the government and nationalize industries. Moreover, only weeks after arriving, I was held at gun point by plainclothes policemen searching for guerrilla fighters.

Yet, even then, I saw the value of international exchanges. Many Venezuelan students and other citizens warmly welcomed me as someone genuinely interested in them who spoke their language. We enjoyed learning from each other. Visiting U.S. musical groups transcended political and linguistic differences and fostered constructive dialogue. Also, a popular U.S. binational center and library attracted many Venezuelans eager for an education and cultural programs especially about the U.S. Like Fulbright many years before, I returned home having a much more nuanced understanding of a foreign country and region, and I had new perspectives on the U.S. too.

November 1973 – John Lindburg being sworn in by the General Counsel of USIA

When back in the U.S., I got a Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University and a law degree from George Washington University while working as an intern in international organizations such as the World Bank and A.I.D. Also, in the summer of 1968, I took twenty-five U.S. university students to Arequipa, Peru to live with families and help with local community service projects. I also worked part-time in New York City in a hospitality and assistance center for foreign students and diplomats while living in the International House designed to bring foreign and U.S. graduate students together.

In 1973, fortunately I was able to join the legal staff of the U.S. Information Agency. USIA administered U.S. international information, cultural, and educational exchange programs such as the Fulbright Program and the Voice of America (VOA). The agency was a perfect match for my interests and background.

Moscow -1977

In 1977 an opportunity arose that I couldn’t refuse. I toured for several weeks with the Yale Russian Chorus as an alumnus to perform in Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Regardless of any political differences, the audiences enthusiastically responded to our singing their folk and liturgical songs in their language, and the music opened the door to the sharing of ideas and friendship. Music indeed is the international language of the heart and soul. Our successful tour supported Nelson Mandela’s view that, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Another very special opportunity was presented In 1989. I was honored to meet alone with then retired Senator Fulbright for more than an hour, and I thanked him profusely for everything he had done for so many people worldwide. He in turn encouraged me and my generation to pick up the torch and carry on in his name. I have done my best to do so for over four decades.

My many years at USIA and subsequent employment at the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the National Gallery of Art, and elsewhere were helpful in furthering Fulbright’s worthy goals. For example, I was fortunate to help draft and monitor various laws ensuring the integrity and nonpartisan nature of U.S. international educational, cultural, and information programs. I also travelled abroad as a member of U.S. delegations to participate in negotiations and drafting of agreements supporting Fulbright, VOA, and RFE/RL activities in Israel, Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, the Czech Republic, Belize, and elsewhere. In 1987, the agreement with Israel for RFE/RL and VOA was signed at the White House with President Reagan.

White House – 1987 – The signing of the agreement between the U.S. and Israel relating to VOA & RFE/RL. John is seen leaning forward to help with the signing of the agreement.

Recently I was asked what one thing had surprised me most during my international travels. I replied that notwithstanding significant political, linguistic, cultural, and other differences, the people of the world share much in common. For example, most people desire economic opportunity and prosperity, good health, security, fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, education, justice, artistic and creative freedom, and peace. Mutual understanding and cooperation can be built on a foundation of such common goals.

Looking ahead, the Fulbright Exchange Program is more necessary than ever. Ironically, in a world awash in information due to modern technology, in some ways there has been a decline in real communication and understanding among people. All too often we divide into warring ideological and tribalistic camps and remain in our own narrow high-tech information bubbles and echo-chambers. Senator Fulbright believed, as do I, that mutual understanding is enhanced enormously by spending quality time sharing experiences with other persons in their countries while listening, learning, and talking patiently with each other. There really is no substitute for face-to-face relationships especially to bridge a cultural divide. They help understanding of another’s values and point of view. Such meaningful contact also can significantly diminish harmful and dangerous stereotypes and fear of “the other.”

How we communicate with one another at home and abroad especially in a nuclear age will set the future course for humanity. There is far too much at stake not to take the time to listen and talk to our fellow travelers on this increasingly shrinking and delicate planet. Former Senator Richard Lugar told the Fulbright Association in 2016 that “In this century, the ability of nations to communicate and work with each other across borders will determine the fate of billions of people. The effectiveness of our response to pandemics, nuclear proliferation, environmental disasters, energy and food insecurity, and threats of conflict will depend foremost on the investments we have made in knowledge, relationships, and communication.”

2019 – John Lindburg – Washington, DC

General Dwight D. Eisenhower stated it another way in 1947 when testifying before Congress in favor of America’s international information, cultural, and educational exchange programs: “There will be disappointments, but if we stick to the truth and use every possible means of exchanging truths with other people, we cannot help but add advantage to ourselves… There can be no absolute security for the United States until every nation enjoys a comparable feeling of security. All that arms can do is give you a relative feeling of security, and I do not care how many guns and planes and ships you pool up, but only as we get a common basis in believing in each other, then you have security. Then I can go fishing.”

John A. Lindburg
Assistant General Counsel, USIA (1973-1988)
General Counsel, Board for International Broadcasting (1988-1995)
Legal Counsel and Acting Chief of Staff, Broadcasting Board of Governors (1995-2000)
Deputy General Counsel and Deputy Secretary, National Gallery of Art (2000-2003)
General Counsel and Secretary, RFE/RL, Inc. (2003-2012)
Consultant to RFE/RL, Inc. (2013-present).

February 13, 2020 2

Chapter Spotlight: New Hampshire

Chapter Spotlight: New Hampshire

Left to Right – Joe McDonough (MASS Chapter President), John Bader, Ann Ackerman (NH Chapter President), and Michael Evans (VPAA SNHU and alum)

Left to Right – Michael Delucia (NH Chapter & National Board Member), Debra Leahy (SNHU Dean School of Global Learning), Michael Evans (VPAA SNHU and alum)

I have always believed that chapters are the heart of the Fulbright Association.  More than 200 chapter events each year power our programming and advance our mission to promote international education.  Chapter leaders—all of them volunteers—spend countless hours in strategizing, planning and executing events of all kinds, from social gatherings to Fulbright Forums (a new way to label speaker/panel/issue events).

One of our most active chapters is based in New Hampshire, led by their amazing president Ann Ackerman.  Ann and her committed board offer many programs throughout the year despite the challenges of a scattered membership and limited resources.  They have been engaged with advocacy, both in meeting local members of Congress and including the New Hampshire delegation—notably Sen. Jeanne Shaheen—in events that show the local impact of Fulbright.  They partner with the Massachusetts Chapter regularly—a model of regional cooperation.

The New Hampshire chapter’s latest triumph was a World Affairs Council event focused on the future of U.S. foreign policy, featuring Amb. Nicholas Burns and hosted by Institutional Member Southern New Hampshire University.  The Fulbright Association co-sponsored this event, attended by over 300 students, faculty and Fulbrighters, with Ann making sure that our branding was prominent.  The presentation, preceded by a reception, provoked many interesting questions and debates.  It serves as a model for the Fulbright Forum.

I was honored to offer opening remarks on behalf of the Association and the chapter, where I stressed the importance of public diplomacy at a time when New Hampshire voters are making important decisions.  Senator Fulbright, I argued, believed in the power of all of us to own the future of the planet, to take our role as “citizen ambassadors” seriously.

Left to Right – International Student Vieng Xay with Chapter Communications Director & Web Master Affrille Degoma

Our New Hampshire chapter takes that role very seriously, and we are grateful for their hard work, and we celebrate their ongoing successes.

-John Bader, Executive Director

January 28, 2020 0

Career Corner: Sharing Your Experiences as a Fulbrighter Will Open Doors

Career Corner: Sharing Your Experiences as a Fulbrighter Will Open Doors

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to join other Fulbrighters at an academic conference for community colleges to share about our experiences.  We participated in two panel discussions and presentations.  The panelists included visiting Fulbrighters from Kyrgyzstan, Togo, and Morocco; U.S. Fulbright ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) in Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, and Peru; and U.S. Fulbright Scholars researching and teaching in Nicaragua and Estonia (me!).  Our audience consisted of community college educators and professionals.  Community colleges are the least represented higher education sector in the Fulbright program, so it was important to share with this group.   Afterwards, several faculty members indicated interest in considering a Fulbright as part of their future professional plans.

Sharing about your experiences as a Fulbrighter is a powerful way of connecting with professionals and the general public.   With professionals, it opens up opportunities for career possibilities.    Your experience overseas will be viewed as an important asset to a company or organization in an increasingly globalized world.  With the general public, sharing about your Fulbright grant offers you a chance to show how international experiences are important for learning and growth, as well as global economic development and intercultural relations.   U.S. taxpayers should be aware of how the Fulbright program contributes to national objectives.

David J Smith — career coach, author, and Fulbrighter

Finding opportunities to talk about your Fulbright experience can be formal, such as a conference or professional meeting, but can also be informal such as at a social gathering.  Sometimes the best places to share are with youth in educational settings.  Schools are frequently looking for guest speakers to talk about interesting work that might inspire young people.  This is an ideal setting for you to share about your time overseas.  Stories about living in another country can be powerful ways to show our connection with others around the world.  Talking about food, work, family life, and other customs can intrigue youth to think about what they can do to make the world a better place through international engagement.   Think about where you went to school.  Contact the principal or a teacher there and offer to share: you will not be turned down, I can guarantee that.   International education week in November is often a time when presenters are needed.  And when meeting with youth, don’t merely talk to them, but get them involved in an activity that allows them to really understand the culture that you experienced.  Teach students a song, or engage in some artwork.     If you are looking for a formal way of engagement, check out the Fulbright Association’s Fulbright-in-the-Classroom Program, which facilitates opportunities for Fulbrighters to talk in K-12 schools.

Making connections can be done in many ways.   Giving back to students, professionals or the public by sharing your experiences advances not only the Fulbright program, but also introduces you to individuals who in turn can open doors.

—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 davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

January 22, 2020 0