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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations. 

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

Continue reading "Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year"

EU Foreign Policy Chief in Favor of Talks with the Taliban

Javier Solana, the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and a Spanish Fulbright Alumnus, said according to AFP that he backed the new Pakistani government's moves to hold talks with Taliban militants, but ruled out any negotiations with Al-Qaeda.

This puts Europe at odds with the United States, not just with the Bush administration, but also with all remaining presidential candidates. Even Barack Obama, who is willing to meet with Iran's President Ahmadinejad, seems to be against negotiations with Taliban. He wrote in Foreign Affairs last summer:

Our strategy must also include sustained diplomacy to isolate the Taliban and more effective development programs that target aid to areas where the Taliban are making inroads.

I agree with Niklas Keller, who argued in the Atlantic Community that "negotiations with the Taliban may be the West's most effective tool to successfully 'divide and conquer' the Afghani insurgency."

German Tourists Are Told To Criticize Human Rights Violations

Many Germans lecture Americans about their country's alleged wrong-doings. The foreign ministry's human rights envoy apparently wants to utilize our penchant for lecturing others. Guenter Nooke appealed to the 44m Germans who travel overseas every year: 
"Too many travellers are uncritical, or have a false solidarity with the governments of the countries they visit," he said, arguing that visitors should talk to "people in authority" at airports, museums or hotels in ­countries where abuses of women's or children's rights occur or where the death penalty is practised. (...)
Tourists to destinations such as Turkey which attracted 3.7m Germans last year should be aware of the limits on press freedom and "deficits in the country's legal system", and could engage with local people on these issues. Equally, visitors to Egypt where 1m Germans travelled last year could ask hotels for information on why emergency powers have been in place since the early 1980s. Tourists visiting the Olympics in China next year could organise "private meetings" with local citizen groups, although he warned against actions that endangered visitors or locals. Regine Spöttl, of Amnesty International, said she was "thrilled" by the appeal and said visitors to luxury hotels in Dubai, for instance, should confront hotel managers over the working conditions of low-paid Bangladeshi women staff, who regularly faced rights abuses.
Continue reading "German Tourists Are Told To Criticize Human Rights Violations"

More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum

Molly Hennessy-Fiske has interviewed several Iraqi Fulbrighters, who want to stay in the United States, but are told to honor their Fulbright contract: "Before foreign Fulbright scholars arrive in the U.S. they sign a contract promising to return to their homes for at least two years before pursuing permanent U.S. jobs or residency."
Other exchange programs are less restrictive, but the Fulbright program's mission is that the grantees return to their home countries and apply the skills they learned in the US. The Institute for International Education (IIE), which is contracted by the Department of State to run the Fulbright program, cannot give advice to Fulbrighters on seeking asylum.
The IIE, however, runs another program called the Scholar Rescue Fund, which is financed by the federal government and some foundations. The Scholar Rescue Fund "has helped resettle 100 academics since 2002, and members of Congress want to set aside millions in Iraq war funding to aid more," but Fulbrighters are not eligible.
Continue reading "More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum"

New Fulbright Chapter in Maine

Maine is the last state in New England to form a Fulbright alumni chapter, writes the Portland Press Herald.
Why took it so long? Must be one of those mysteries that Maine is famous for. ;-) Anyway, congratulations! Here is a quote from the above mentioned article:
Somewhere in Macedonia, people know a little bit more about performance reviews because of Beth Richardson. The Fulbright Program sent the business professor from Saint Joseph`s College to the Balkan nation to teach graduate students about ethical business practices and human resources management. These are vital tools as the country tries to modernize and gain acceptance into the European Union. But Richardson said she got as much as she gave to the educational exchange program, which the U.S. government funds to improve relations with the world. For several months last year, she lived in the capital of Skopje, woke to the Muslim call to prayer, walked among locals at the outdoor market. ``I want others to have the experience that I had,`` she said. ``It was pretty great.`` To promote her experience, Richardson recently helped to found a state chapter of the Fulbright alumni organization.
The US Fulbright Alumni website has some information about the Maine chapter's activities.

Fulbrighter Killed at Virginia Tech

The shooting on the Virginia Tech Campus started in the Introductory German class. The first victim was Professor Jamie Bishop, 35, who was a US Fulbright scholar to Christian-Albrechts University at Kiel, Germany. More information at Dialog International.
Our condolences to the families of all the victims of this tragedy.

UPDATE: Uwe Koch, president of the
German Fulbright Association, has sent the following Letter of Condolence to Virginia Tech and to the international mailing list for Fulbright Associations as well as posted it on the Memorial Site:
Dear Dr. Steger:

Senator W. Fulbright's idea was to build up a world of tolerance, mutual understanding - and even better - friendship; instead of animosity. If one lifts these ideas on a bigger scale, how can anyone see a reason in killing another person in an amok run like this. No one who bears Senator Fulbight's ideas and spirit in his own character can see any sense in this tragedy.

Members and Board of the German Fulbright Alumni Association convey their sympathies to the families of Professor Jamie Bishop (Fulbright scholar to Christian-Albrechts University at Kiel, Germany), Professor Liviu Librescu and all those who suffered from the Virginia Tech killings. In such a time of bereavement, it might be comforting to feel that one is not alone and that people all over the world also sympathize with these families.

Our most sincere condolences especially to Stefanie Hofer

On behalf of the board

Uwe Koch
Fulbright Alumni e.V.
German Fulbright Association

New Fulbright Documentary and Fulbright Discussion on Iraq

The J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center has a new homepage and presents a new documentary highlighting Senator Fulbright's "role in the founding of the United Nations, his opposition to the McCarthy investigations, and his questioning of American policy in the Vietnam War."

And Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith questioned American policy in the Iraq war in a speech to Fulbright Alumni at Harvard last week. According to the Harvard Crimson, Galbraith predicted that Iraq would not be able to weather the ongoing civil war and would eventually split along sectarian lines:
Galbraith—who was never a member of the Fulbright program—was invited because of his support for the program during his 14 years as a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The Iraq war has not served a single national security purpose,” Galbraith said. “Iraq cannot be put back together again—there is actually no way to stop the civil war in Baghdad.”
Despite the fact that most of the assembled scholars strongly backed Galbraith’s comments, one Iraqi woman took issue with his prediction that Iraq would fracture along ethnic lines. She said that the fault for Iraq’s divisions lies with politicians who are dividing people for their own ends, and that the populace is less divided than Galbraith claimed. "We are all Iraqi,” she added. But an Iraqi Kurd said that he supports autonomy from the Baghdad government for the Kurd-controlled region in the north.

Fulbright News

• "Fulbright India had enough," writes Judith Apter Klinghoffer in History News Network. Interesting article, which also links to many other interesting articles about Fulbrighters calling Secretary Rice for help, and about "amazing anti-Americanism exhibited by the Indian elite" and other topics.

• Marin Marian-Bălaşa writes about the Romanian Fulbright Alumni Association's plans for
a series of public talks about "What is and isn't the USA".
Each meeting will be devoted to a different topic (politics, culture, society, etc.), will surely be reflected and covered by the media, and we hope that every occasion will succeed in defeating prejudice, bringing a refined knowledge about the US, and helping the audience and those hearing about it to handle a subtler way of thinking about USA, democracy, society, cultural production, consumerism.
Marin also describes "how the axe of reality works" in his volunteers organization:
Colleagues come to our “Romanian Fulbright Alumni” association always, I mean yearly, with the same “let’s do it” ideas, “why wouldn’t we” (i.e., well-doing) intentions, desires for serving, job searching tentative, and societal fitting. In the course of time they surpass the critical phase encountered on their return, and then their social soul succumbs in favor of individualistic needs and careers.
Senator Fulbright is sometimes mentioned in discussions about Iraq: Senator Edward Kennedy on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace
KENNEDY: But we have to understand that there is absolute chaos that is taking place there. This country is falling apart. The bottom is falling out of this thing. And we have to — as the number-one issue is the protection of the American troops, and not let them be in a sinkhole. And that is our commitment.
Carl Levin has said he'll have the hearings, weekly hearings, on Iraq. This reminds me of those kinds of hearings that Senator Fulbright had on the Vietnam War. This country will be tuned into this. And the manner of the stubbornness of the president of the United States will not be able to resist what I think is the movement in this country to ensure that we're going to protect our troops and recognize how limited our influence really is.
WALLACE: Do we have any moral obligation to the Iraqis who have risked their lives, counting on our word that we're going to be there? And do we have to ensure that we're going to be safe from the possibility of terrorist attacks coming from Iraq?
KENNEDY: We have an enormous moral obligation to those Iraqis who have worked with us. And we are failing them. We are failing them.
• Updated directory of Fulbright projects: Fulbrighters make the world a better place

• List of blogs written by Fulbrighters.