Podcast Transcript _4 by runout


									Jermaine:   Good early evening everybody, and good afternoon to the folks in the regional
            offices. My name is Jermaine Jones and I’m the Program Manager at the Institute
            of International Education, or IIE for short, with the U.S. Student Fulbright
            Program where I work with the Fulbright Program for Africa, Sub-Saharan
            Africa, as well as the Middle East and North Africa and I wanted to thank you all
            for attending this first alumni roundtable of this season, the alumni roundtable,
            obviously, for Africa and the Middle East. Just a couple of house keeping notes.
            First, you may have noticed that there is a laptop in the back of the room here in
            New York City. In terms of signing up here, we ask that everyone either now, or
            maybe after we’ve ended here at 8 o’clock, provide your name and your email
            address on that laptop so that we can follow up with you with additional
            information or updates that we might have for you along the way. And, there may
            be similar signup sheets in the regional offices as well. Secondly, you may notice
            a lot of microphones around the room here in New York. I have to speak into a
            microphone as well as my colleagues at this table because we’re actually doing a
            podcast of this particular event. So it will be placed on the internet and again
            accessible via, I guess, this newfangled technology or whatever. So folks can
            listen to it at their own leisure, if they’re not able to attend this, or if you guys
            want to listen to it after the fact. And you’ll notice here as well in the New York
            office there is a microphone set up in the very middle of the room and we would
            ask that you all to come to the front, speak very clearly into the microphone with
            your questions so that again we can record you appropriately for the podcast

            I’m going to say a few introductory remarks before jumping into the roundtable.
            I’ll try to keep my remarks short so that we can get you guys into the nitty gritty
            of why you’re here.

            Again, this is for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program and this is considered to be
            the U.S. government’s flagship program for educational and cultural exchange. It
            was began in 1946 by Senator Fulbright and by Congressman Hayes to foster
            mutual understanding between peoples of the U.S. and other countries. The
            Fulbright programs are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and funded
            every year by a U.S. congressional allotment to State Department and it’s funded
            in cooperation with the Fulbright Commissions and Foundations overseas as well
            as our American embassies abroad. However it is IIE that administers the student
            programs here on the U.S. side of things. The focus of the program worldwide is
            cultural exchange. However, the means for facilitating these exchanges is through
            academic, educational, and community based activities. So again, the underlying
            principle for the program, for this program, is to, again, promote exchange
            between cultures on an individual basis. You could call it microdiplomacy if you
            want to. But again, the most important part of—well, let me put it this way: the
            most important part of your application is going to be the proposal itself. So you
            have to have a strong reason for going abroad in terms of a strong proposal for
            academic or artistic research. And finally, an important feature of the Fulbright
program is to provide opportunities for grantees to experience a country or culture
in which they have little to no experience. We have had grantees in the past apply
to countries in which they’ve had a few weeks, or a few months, or maybe a
semester of prior experience. But generally speaking, if you have, I’d say, in the
range of a year or more of experience in the country, then you’re going to be at
somewhat of a disadvantage relative to others who have less experience but have
equally compelling applications.

And just a few more remarks about the Fulbright Program. Again these are
general or world wide aspects of the program, not specific to Africa or the Middle
East. The U.S. Student Fulbright Program is open to people at a variety of
different levels: recent U.S. college and university graduates, graduate level
students, people in the creative visual and performing arts, as well as young
professionals in various professional fields- law, public health, medicine,
business, education and the like.

You do not need to be enrolled in a graduate program, or any U.S. college or
university at the time that you apply. It’s certainly possible to submit your
application directly to IIE on an at-large basis. So that’s hopefully something that
will dispel one of the frequent myths of the program. In other words if you were
not enrolled in a U.S. college or university that does not mean you are not eligible
to apply for one of our grants.

The grants provide support for one academic year. For Africa, it’s generally 10
months, but it can in some cases be as few as 6 months. But again that’s generally
an amount of time that’s limited only to people who either have artistic, creative,
and performing arts projects, or for those who are doing dissertation research
projects. For the Middle East the grants generally run in the range of 9 to 10
months. And again the grants provide support for that full academic year period
and therefore they’re designed to support self-designed study of some kind, or
research which can include activities such as university coursework, library or
field research, classes in music or an art school, research or work with NGOs or
local government agencies, or a combination of other projects. It’s basically up to
you as the applicant to design how your project will look, so it’s really something
that’s going to be driven by you as the candidate in terms of deciding what you
want to do while you’re overseas.

And the program has experienced significant growth, over the past several years
especially, and for this past competition, the application deadline for which was
October 2007, we received over 6,700 applications worldwide, which was a
record year. And we expect to offer I’d say in the range of 1500 grants or so for
all fields and disciplines, in over 140 countries around the world.

Now during the course of the grant term, grantees are expected to be engaged full
time in the activities of their project as laid out in their original project proposals.
And, as I mentioned before, they’re also expected to interact in a variety of ways
with their host community, and that can be done in a variety of ways, such as
participating or helping out with various NGOs or non-profits in their host
community, through sports or arts activities, visits to schools, community
organizations, helping out with American embassies in the host country that might
ask you to speak or give other presentations to the local community. So, there are
different ways of interacting with the host community. But again, that’s a vital
part of the Fulbright experience.

Now let me tailor my remarks a little bit more to first, Sub-Saharan Africa, and
then to the Middle East and then I’ll let these other folks at the round table speak.
Sub-Saharan Africa first. You’ll notice either in the brochure, the hard copy
brochure, copies of which are in the back, as well as on the website, that there are
26 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region to which candidates of all degree
levels can apply. There are a few countries, a handful, that aren’t listed as being
completely off limits altogether, but that also don’t have country summaries in the
brochure. A few of those are Sierra Leone, both Congos, the former Zaire Congo
and Congo Brazzaville, and Rwanda and there are a few others as well. These are
countries to which only advanced level graduates can apply. Unfortunately,
undergraduates, BA level applicants are not allowed to apply to those countries.
The reason being that these are countries that have fairly small U.S. embassies,
and the embassy staff in these countries are so small that they really don’t have a
lot of time to offer support and guidance to people that aren’t more mature and
able to carry out research on a more independent basis and without a lot of, again,
guidance or support from the embassy. So again, those are the countries to which
only advanced level—generally speaking that means PhD level students are able
to apply.

It’s the responsibility of each candidate or grantee to secure their host or
institutional affiliation for Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many countries outside
of the region where that’s taken care of either by the Embassy or the Commission
in the host country, but that’s not the case for Africa.. In this part of the world of
the world it’s up to you as the candidate or the grantee to work out your own
affiliation with a prospective host institution, college or university, NGO, research
institute, archive, in your prospective host country. And generally these don’t
necessarily need to be confirmed by the time you submit your application to IIE.
Our application deadline is usually around October. This year it’s going to be
October 20 (2007). Two deadlines actually: October the 20th for the electronic
submission of the application. And then October 22nd, that’s the date by which the
hardcopy application must be received here at IIE. So again, it can really help
your chances if the affiliation is confirmed by those dates, but it’s not a hard and
fast rule that it must be by that time.

A few other notes on Sub-Saharan Africa: Multi-country applications are possible
for every country in the region except for South Africa. By multi country
application I mean, one application, focusing on one project proposal that would
be divided between 2 – 3 different countries in the same world region. Now again
it’s possible, but I have to say that it’s not something that’s necessarily
encouraged by the Program, primarily because it can be very difficult to secure
the necessary clearances and approvals from each country. And if you apply to 2
or 3 countries, and one country says no, that can really jeopardize your chances of
receiving the grant overall. So it’s best to apply to one country, ok? And I think
it’s also very important to keep the language considerations in mind. And I would
stress that even in countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, that might have
English as either the official language or one of several national languages, you
shouldn’t automatically assume that you’ll be able to get by with English alone.
It’s really going to be dependent on exactly what you want to do in the country,
where in the country you’re going to be, as well as who you’ll be working with in
the host country that will determine whether or not English alone will be
sufficient, or if you’ll need to know either an indigenous language, or another
language like French or Portuguese or something along those lines.

And, finally moving on to my general comments concerning the Middle East and
North Africa. Again, you’ll see in the website as well as the hard copy brochure
that there are 12 countries in the region that accept applications for the U.S.
student Fulbright program. And again these are applications open to candidates of
all degree levels. Multi country applications are available to every country in the
region except for the following: Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Morocco. But again, I
would just stress that they are a possibility but they are by no means preferred or
recommended, so just keep that in mind for the reasons that I mentioned earlier.
Candidates interested in receiving additional language training, primarily in
Arabic, should consider applying for one of the critical language enhancement
awards or C.L.E.A. Awards, for short, and again, the complete details on those
particular awards are given in the handbook as well as the website. And I’d be
happy to answer any questions that you might have about that as well during the
course of this session. And I would also just stress what I mentioned before,
during my notes on Africa, about being careful to think about language
considerations. Again, not every project is doable with English alone so be very
certain that you think through what you want to do during your grant term and
also to read through the language requirements as laid out in each country
summary, given again in the website as well as the hard copy brochure.

I’m going to finish my comments here and I’m going to introduce our panel. We
have panelists here in New York, obviously, as well as in two of our regional
centers. I’m going to introduce them first and then again ask them to jump right
into their presentations. They’ll be presenting for roughly 5 – 7 minutes on
various aspects of their Fulbright experience, what they found in the host country,
as well as how their Fulbright experience changed their life post Fulbright. And I
will introduce them in the order in which they’ll be presenting. On my left is Toja
Okoh. She was a Fulbrighter to Nigeria during the 2006-2007 academic year. And
on my far right is Steven Wood who had a Fulbright grant to South Africa during
the same year, 2006-2007. They are two panelists who will be presenting on the
Sub-Saharan Africa side of things. For the Near East and North Africa we have
        four people. First off is Robinette Dowtin who was in Morocco during the 2006-
        2007 academic year. And again on my immediate right is Jonathan Noble who
        was in Syria during 2003-2004. After these four present I’ll ask that we move on
        to the alumni in our regional centers. First up is Joe Livingston who was a former
        colleague of mine; he worked here at IIE for a few months, but before that he held
        a Fulbright grant to Jordan during the 2002-2003 academic year. And then
        moving further west, our final presenter in the San Francisco office is Dominic
        Bocci who was in the United Arab Emirates during 2006-2007. So without further
        ado, let’s jump into what our alumni have to say. Let’s start off with Robinette
        Dowtin. Robinette? Toja, I’m sorry. Toja, sorry about that. Thank you.

Toja:   Good evening and thank you for inviting me to be on the roundtable. My name,
        again, is Toja Okoh and my Fulbright year was 2006-2007. I participated in the
        Fulbright program in Nigeria and I arrived their December, December 1st actually,
        2006 and stayed until August 15, so about 8 months was my time there. My field
        of study is African History; I’m a PhD student at New York University. My
        project focused on pre-oil Niger Delta and trying to… the project itself focuses on
        the ethnicization of politics in the Niger Delta and trying to explain historically
        these communities in light of its recent history which is pretty much dominated by
        oil politics. My Fulbright grant fits in largely with my research agenda but also I
        was really interested in applying to the Fulbright precisely because of the
        community connections and networking that I was also interested in making. I’m
        one of those rare Fulbrighters that actually has roots in the country. My father is
        from that region, but I had spent very, very little time there as a child and so had
        an opportunity to go back with this particular project in mind. So I was really
        keen on making connections with the communities that I was going to be
        researching, which is somehow connected with my own community but then also
        I got a chance while I was in Nigeria to travel to the northern parts of Nigeria
        which people in the south don’t often do, and get a very different perspective and
        be able to talk about the Niger delta in the north while I was traveling with the
        U.S. Embassy, particularly the U.S. Ambassador in Nigeria. So I had a really
        broad experience, not just for my research project, but also as a Fulbrighter, and
        getting a real, sort of, Fulbright experience with traveling and really talking and
        broadening my scope, my interests. So now I have a broader community not just
        in the Niger Delta but I think also in the north particularly in Kano, Kaduna, and
        parts of Abuja and Sokoto.

        My career goals and where this fits in as far as the Fulbright experience- I made
        connections that were sort of professional connections but I also made some
        really, I think, life connections with people that I will continue to have
        connections with throughout my life. Overall I think the most striking part of my
        experience as a Fulbrighter was that I… beyond learning about my project and
        getting a different perspective on the project itself, I got a different perspective of
        myself. And really, sort of… I was actually moved and pushed in ways that I
        don’t think I could have been pushed if I hadn’t made the trip, and I hadn’t spent
        8 months in the field, and in some ways I wish I had spent more time there to
         really sort of let it sink in. The program and sort of being on the ground really
         pushed my own sense of being an American, especially an American with roots in
         Africa, and getting a different perspective about myself and the expectations and
         assumptions that I carried with that particular background. I really grew through
         that experience and it really reshaped my sense of being and belonging not just as
         an American but also sort of as a world citizen. I didn’t expect that from the
         Fulbright, and that was something that really shifted my perspective. In many
         ways I came to sort of a different understanding of the project itself; it became a
         bigger project than just a research project. It has now become something that I
         think I will engage in in various other aspects, not just as an academic which I
         will become but also I would like to be an advocate for the Niger Delta
         communities in the future and as I develop my academic career. So I think I’ll end
         it there and talk later.

Steve:   Good evening, my name is Steve Wood. I was a Fulbrighter in South Africa for
         2006-2007 and my field of study was sociology. I guess I was one of the few
         students that was currently in school and I applied as at-large. So I was one of the
         people that was still in school but was able to get a Fulbright as an at-large
         candidate. The reason I applied for a Fulbright was I needed money to fund my
         dissertation research in South Africa. I was looking at prison reform and more
         specifically organizations that provide prison oversight in post-Apartheid prisons,
         and ultimately comes down to human rights issues: are prisoners being treated
         properly? Does the public have access to information about what’s going on
         inside their prisons? Are the prison officials being held accountable when they
         start to mistreat prisoners? So I was looking at the judicial inspected prisons,
         which provides an oversight of prisons and that was the focus of my dissertation.
         And hopefully tomorrow if everything goes right I will have my PhD, officially.

         Luckily with the Fulbright I was able to go all across the country. I visited all nine
         provinces. I was up towards the Mozambique area, Zimbabwe; I was in the
         former homelands; I was in the big cities; I was in the small towns; I was in the
         informal settlements, townships, you name it. And if it hadn’t been for the
         Fulbright, I don’t think I would have ever had that opportunity. So I was lucky in
         that way.

         In terms of some of the challenges that I confronted, I think, especially in South
         Africa, you need a car and cars are very expensive there. And, it’s not safe to
         walk around, like it is here in New York City. And I made the financial decision
         not to get the car. So for me that was a big challenge especially when it came
         down to looking for places to live and getting around. So, in terms of challenges, I
         think that was one of the biggest challenges I faced while I was there.

         In terms of some of my more memorable experiences, just getting to meet so
         many different people, and getting to talk to ordinary South Africans about the
         United States, about the education system. So many South Africans thought I
         would be able to help them get into school here in the states—I don’t know how
             the other Fulbright Scholars fared in that way—or they thought I could help them
             get work in the states. But, other than that, it was a great experience to be able to
             be able to interact with so many different people. And, something that Jermaine
             pointed out, even though in South Africa, English is one of the 11 official
             languages, what I found was that even people who spoke basic English, it was
             sometimes very difficult to have anything more than a very basic conversation
             with them. And I only spoke English. I didn’t learn Zulu, I didn’t learn Xhosa, I
             didn’t learn Swati or Afrikaans. I stuck with English and I was basically able to
             get by with that but I did find it to be quite a bit of a challenge every now and

             I don’t know… is there anything else that I’m… I think I’m done.

Robinette:   Good day everyone. My name is Robinette Dowtin and I was a participant in
             Morocco in the 2006-2007 academic year. My project was looking at the
             intersection between Islam and women’s dress. So basically I was going around
             different regions of the country, the highways, the byways, the big cities, the
             small cities, the no cities interviewing women of various cultural backgrounds
             about representations of women in the public space. I wanted to know how that
             fared with religion, tradition, practicality of dress, fashion. Was it a mixture of
             these things or was it none of these things? So basically I spent my Fulbright term
             doing that but I was a beneficiary of what we called then the Language Training
             Initiative. I forget what you all changed the name to. Basically what I did was
             three months prior to beginning my Fulbright period I studied Arabic, both types
             of Arabic. I went into Morocco with French as a second language, but I studied
             modern standard Arabic for 3 months, for three and a half hours a day Monday
             through Friday, and then I took private lessons on Saturdays and Sundays dealing
             with Islam, dealing with Morocco, dealing with women. And then for an hour and
             a half to two hours every evening Monday through Friday I studied Darija which
             is the colloquial language of Morocco, and I actually lived with a Moroccan
             family for the entire time I was there which stemmed from a 2004 SIT program in
             which I spent approximately 8 weeks studying Arabic and Moroccan culture in
             Morocco. And so I was very blessed to be able to benefit from that Language
             Training Initiative because when it was time for me to actually begin my
             fieldwork, I conducted all the interviews on my own, having gone in there not
             knowing very much, forgotten all of my Arabic. I was able to accomplish my goal
             independent of a translator which really helped facilitate the interviews much
             better than had I had a translator with me. So I would definitely encourage taking
             advantage of that, of the language initiative.

             I guess I would say as far as my future goes or is concerned, I applied for both the
             Fulbright and graduate school at the same time with the intention of deferring
             admission and I found out about both at the same time, within the same hour, and
             that was a very good thing, a very good.day. So I actually was accepted to go to
             graduate school; I also go to NYU like Toja but I’m a first year student. So I was
             planning on looking at West Africa, looking at the jihads, looking at 18th, 19th
           century and once I got to Morocco and really delved into my project I decided to
           change my entire area of study and that’s what I did. I was approved by the
           department. So, Morocco and Fulbright definitely played a critical role and what
           I’m choosing to do with my future.

           As far as a memorable moment I think I’ll take it on a personal level because
           Morocco has held a very special place in my heart for quite some time and I don’t
           want to romanticize it at all, but I definitely feel and I really believe it’s a part of
           having spent time with the family there and really kind of acclimating myself to a
           certain culture. I was definitely taking a step that I’d never taken before. I’d never
           lived with a family, I’d never been by myself in that sense, this young African
           American Christian woman in this predominantly Muslim, Arabic speaking
           community in which I felt completely alone in the beginning but I just really
           didn’t by the end. I’d had a day which was just a rough day. I’d lost a very
           valuable piece of merchandise that I’d purchased 2 days prior, I was called a
           really bad racial slur, I found out someone was fraudulently using my bank
           account, had taken almost all of my money. That was a very bad day for me. But I
           decided not to tell my Moroccan family because they were really over the top
           about their students, they wanted to really make sure we were taken care of. But I
           believe one of my sisters must have leaked the information to my father and he
           came into our room and he was crying. He’s rather sickly, himself, but he was
           crying so much. And I was like, you know, ―baba what’s wrong with you?‖ And
           he was crying because he said, you know, ―I’m hurting because you’re hurting.
           And you are my child. God might have given you to me through another set of
           parents, but you are the child that god meant for me to have and so your pain is
           my pain.‖ And so at that moment I realized this is definitely not about race, color,
           or creed. I definitely felt without a doubt a member of my family. So I would
           definitely encourage Fulbright to be a part of your experience as well.

Jonathan   Hi, my name is Jonathan Noble. I was a Fulbrighter to Syria in 2003-2004 and I
           wanted to talk a little bit today about my project but also professional career path
           opportunities after Fulbright, particularly for folks who may not be looking at a
           career in academia. I went to Syria with two purposes. One was to improve my
           Arabic, and I worked on that through a number of avenues. One was through
           studying at the University of Damascus. I also had private lessons during the
           entirety of my stay. The other was to do some research and I did end up doing
           work on heritage tours and projects in Syria and how they were being used as a
           development tool in different parts of the country.

           I think what I want to talk a little bit about today is what Fulbright prepares you
           for in your career, or in a career once you’re done. I think particularly Syria was
           an excellent opportunity. I finished my bachelors degree and then went
           immediately after summer to Syria and I was really unsure about whether I
           wanted to have a career in academia or perhaps go on and work in the public
           sector or do something like that. And it was a great time and opportunity, a
           chance for me to figure out what I wanted to do, and particularly to have a
            regional focus and find out through that where I was perhaps best placed. I work
            for IIE in Houston now on exchange programs with countries in the Middle East.
            I think that my experience there has really prepared me for a career in the public
            sector in a way that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I was able to meet with people
            from all walks of life, whether they were officials, my neighbors in the
            community that I lived in and interact in the region, in Syria and Damascus with
            people on a daily basis. And that prepared me for experiences I had afterwards. I
            stayed in the region for two years and worked for an NGO there and then came
            back to the United States, and I didn’t get a masters degree, but left after I was
            done. And I think meeting people, being immersed, taking some of the theoretical
            knowledge I had learned while I was a student getting my bachelors degree and
            applying it to an experience in country and in the region was really invaluable.
            And I think one of the things people should think of is I think Fulbright is an
            opportunity not only to further your academic career but also for you to look into
            opportunities and chances that may come professionally later.

            I also wanted to touch on some of the memorable experiences I had. Syria at the
            time was a pretty small program. I think there are more students that are studying
            there now than when I was there in 2003-2004 but I became really close with a
            number of the other Fulbrighters that were there and I think it was really
            important for me to have, to be part of a community of scholars and likeminded
            Americans who had a goal of working as ambassadors, working to learn more
            about Syria, and to sort of act as… to be people who could talk about American
            politics in a way that wasn’t part of official policy. And to just be American
            citizens and learning about another place, to have that community and to be able
            to talk... We had Thanksgiving dinner together and did a number of things
            together that were really good opportunities for us to get to know each other and
            to kind of miss home a little bit less. I think that was one of the most memorable
            experiences that I had being on Fulbright and I would encourage anybody who
            wanted to apply for it to do so. I think it’s a great program.

Jermaine:   Can we move on to the Washington, D.C. office and have Joseph Livingston

Joe:        Good evening everyone. Jermaine can you hear me ok?

Jermaine:   Yes, I can Joe.

Joe:        Great. Well, first, thanks for having me. It’s always great to be back at IIE for an
            evening. It was a year ago, I think, that we were all doing these panels together, so
            it seems like kind of a return. I guess I wanted to talk a little bit about my project
            and then provide a bit of information on some of the differences of what I
            experienced when I actually arrived in the country versus what I expected. And
            then I’ll move on a little bit to the career relevance, and there are certainly a
            number of questions in DC about language prior to when we started and so I
            thdefinitely want to touch on that as well, if I get the chance.
So, basically my project, which now seems like ancient history since 2002-2003, I
began right after graduating from college. And what I was looking at was social
class structure of Palestinian and refugee society in Jordan. And more specifically
I was trying to look at how social structure is set up in historical British mandate
Palestine- look at the class structure there and how that might have juxtaposed
itself onto Palestinian society in Jordan. So I looked a lot at migration patterns,
which families moved where, how people set up their lives, whether it was in
Amman or small villages or refugee camps, what determined those factors. I did
this through extensive qualitative interviews. I had a survey set up that was very
open ended so I basically worked with NGOs, with professors, with some
representatives from some NY UN organizations, think tanks, etc. and found ways
of getting in touch with Palestinians, living in camps, living in affluent parts of
Amman, living in East Amman in less affluent sections of the city and basically
would sit with families for several hours at a time, and kind of use that as a means
of finding out everything I could about their lives: where they come from, what
they’ve learned, about their family. When I started it was really more about
linking it back to Palestine, rather than trying to understand ??? and the whole
transition better. When I finished I was really much more interested in how
economic indicators, people’s professions, their level of education, their income,
how all these things impacted people’s attitudes towards returning to Palestine in
the prospect of some future peace process or final status negotiation. So you
definitely go through a lot of transition during that whole process. I was
fascinated for about a month with migration patterns and movements and how
those choices were made and I was kind of thinking about that more broadly. So, I
think that’s sort of a good segue into the open-endedness and the flexibility of the
Fulbright award.

When you first find out about this it may appear as a very rigid, academic type of
award. And there is definitely an academic component. And certainly the project
is a means to receiving the Fulbright award and having this wonderful broad
experience. But once you’re in country, and I’ll be frank, the level of supervision
over what you’re doing on a day to day basis, in many places—and of course each
country is going to be a bit different and you’re going to want to speak to your
program manager about those nuances—but in many cases you really have a
tremendous amount of freedom as to where to take your Fulbright and how to
conduct your life on a day to day basis. So, many Fulbrighters that I’ve seen in
Jordan and in other countries have found opportunities to volunteer, sometimes
through unpaid internships, certainly to travel around the country where they’re
being hosted and that’s just one aspect. From the research perspective, from the
academic perspective, people really do go in very different directions. I mean, to
go in with a history project and then change to an art project, or something like
that, is a serious change you’d have to consult on that, but minor changes and
fluctuations in how you do your research, who you meet with and what you’re
really trying to accomplish, those are things that are easily done, again, in my
experience. So I would go in with the attitude that while this is in theory an
academic grant, the heart of the Fulbright experience is the intercultural
awareness, the intercultural experience, the opportunity to meet people, to
understand their way of life, to try to understand the similarities of the host
culture that you’re interacting with, to learn about them, to allow them to learn
about you, to leave them with an experience of, with knowledge of what
American’s are about because really we’re all serving as ambassadors over there
teaching people about our ways of life and we’re not doing it from the
government perspective, cause when we’re out there we’re the common people
from the U.S., we’re the average man, and we’re not connected to government. It
gives us some distance and allows us to talk to people about politics, about
history, about life, about music, about society and people will really be very
grateful for the opportunity. And I can tell you that when you come back to the
states people will be incredibly thankful for the opportunity to hear about the
people’s lives that you’ve discovered. Because you know, if you’re from Kansas
or a small town in upstate New York as I was, people really don’t know anything
about some small village in Jordan. So take the opportunity to really get off the
beaten track.

One thing I’d say is a challenge for Americans in many cases especially in
countries with big Fulbright programs, especially countries with big ex-pat
populations, is the bounds between how much time you’re going to spend with
other Americans and other ex-pats versus how much time you’re going to spend
with the local population and there’s no right answer to this except to say that
you’re on a Fulbright so as much as you feel comfortable I would try to take
advantage of those opportunities and for the sake of language, for the sake of
interaction, for the sake of getting as much out of that limited experience as
possible I think that helps make it worthwhile. But, you know, that’s not to say to
cut your ties with your fellow Fulbrighters; that’s unrealistic. There’s a reason
people feel the need at times to be around other people who are more like them in
certain cultural ways.

Last thing I want to say is- career relevance. I think Jonathan did a good job of
really explaining this. There is a trajectory that Fulbright can put you on
professionally, it certainly doesn’t need to be academic; it is for many people. It
can help you when you’re going through graduate school applications and the
research experience alone… certainly you can use that very research for grad
school thesis or a PhD. It will certainly help to facilitate that level of research in
the future. Outside of academia there really are many types of jobs that are well
served by the Fulbright experience from working at NGOs to working for the
government. A lot of people who have a lot of academic knowledge about the
subject simply don’t have the on the ground experience, and that can translate to
not having linguistic experience, but it can also mean that they simply don’t really
get what’s going on in these countries and I can say that I’ve now lived in Jordan
for two and a half to three years and the Arab world is an extremely complicated
place. And so I think that experience really goes a long way towards beginning to
understand these nuances. I currently am in the Foreign Service. I joined after
            leaving IIE and I’m preparing for my first assignment to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So
            far me, the Fulbright experience very much fits on a continuum to where I am

Jermaine:   Alright, thank you so much Joe. That was fantastic. That was really good. Can we
            move on to San Francisco now and Dominic Bocci?

Dominic:    Is this working?

Jermaine:   We can hear you.

Dominic:    OK, wonderful. So I am Dominic Bocci and I was in the Fulbright year 2006-
            2007. I applied to the United Arab Emirates and I was housed out of Dubai and I
            did Islamic Studies. And actually, as opposed to a lot of the people that just
            presented, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life. So after
            college I was working abroad in Egypt and I decided that I needed some more
            time to figure out what my research interests were. So I applied to the Fulbright in
            order to spend more time in the country, get more language skills, really narrow
            down what I wanted to study. At the time I was working with Islamic law and
            court systems, specifically in Egypt and I wanted to expand that over to the Gulf.
            Originally I thought I wanted to study in Saudi Arabia, but that wasn’t available
            so I figured Dubai was pretty great. So that’s the way I went.

            So I ended up doing an independent research project working on Islamic custody
            law in the courts of the U.A.E. and how federal courts differed from local courts,
            both the Islamic courts and other courts that they had. So I was living in Dubai
            and I was also living in Sharjah, the emirate next door, so they’re about 15
            minutes apart. And my institution I selected was the American University of
            Sharjah and I actually set that up through my alma matter which was UC
            Berkeley. So, to a lot of you who are applying you should basically go back to
            your undergrad institution if you’re not already there and start talking to a lot of
            people about who they might know or who they can set you up with to talk about
            the country that you’re in. I’m going to specifically talk about what I wish I knew
            regarding the Fulbright before I left, or what I wish I knew when dealing with my
            research now having come full circle and knowing what my project was going to
            ultimately be and what my experience was going to be like. I think it’s really
            important to understand that you could really, quite frankly, end up all alone in
            the country that you go to and so you’ve really got to be excited about your
            project and you really have to take full advantage of what you’re gong to do. I
            happened to have… there were other Fulbrighters in the U.A.E. but we didn’t
            really work together at all. And so, when I first arrived, I just automatically
            assumed that someone was going to come pick me up from the airport and that
            everything was going to be great, but I foolishly didn’t arrange that myself. I just
            kind of thought it would happen. That’s something you’re going to learn is going
            to be a massive problem on your Fulbright. Things don’t just happen without you
            doing them; it’s kind of a revelation you’ll end up learning. So anyways, all the
            connections you end up making you’re pretty much going to forge for yourself.
            So you’re going to have to network and be really, really industrious and get a lot
            of stuff done. Also, I can’t speak for the rest of Africa, but I just want everyone to
            know… living in the Middle East is kind of difficult especially if you’ve never
            done it before. So there are a lot of great things about the Fulbright, in fact, I
            couldn’t even imagine not doing it. But, I mean, take a really realistic look. I
            mean, if you haven’t lived abroad, flexibility is going to be the key thing that
            you’re going to really need to hone. This is not even bus schedules, we’re talking
            you may need to rework a whole aspect of your research proposal because you
            didn’t quite realize that it was a sensitive issue at the time to ask 500 Muslim
            women about their divorces, which is a problem that I kind of got into. Not easily
            of course. I ended up working through the university and everyone was incredibly
            helpful. Because I basically went with the assumption that I just wanted to learn
            as much as possible about the U.A.E. and try and really understand what the
            courts were doing. And I think your genuine interest will ultimately shine through
            and people will be more than willing to help you. The only other thing is that , to
            those of you who are applying at large, don’t be afraid. I actually did it from
            Egypt, and doing it fro abroad is pretty difficult considering that a lot of the
            countries you’ll go to… well, I guess it doesn’t matter whether you’re broad or
            not. A lot of the institutions you want to work with may not have email addresses
            and even when they do they probably don’t check them very often. And so you
            really want to make sure that you kind of know where your project is going and
            who you want to work with and how realistic it actually is. But, basically, if I say
            one thing today, for those of you that are applying at large, you should really
            probably persuade a friend to also apply with you because you’re going to need
            someone to go over your stuff and really analytically look at what you’re doing,
            because if you do it by yourself, you’re going to get really lost. So, it’s a great
            experience, I really liked it. It fit perfectly into my career goals. I’m applying to
            PhD programs now, and I’m ultimately using the research that I did, working with
            the courts in my PhD program and it’s really great. I wouldn’t have exchanged it
            for the world.

            I hope that was good! Here you go.

Jermaine:   It was very good Dominic, thank you. Thank you all actually. Thank you very

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