One of the great activities conducted for first-year Fulbrighter is known as Fulbright Enrichment Seminar. I had an opportunity to join this seminar on March 8 – 11, 2012. All first-year Fulbrighters were selected randomly; therefore, those who could go to this event would have a great time to experience meeting with scholars from other countries. In that seminar, there were scholars who came from, roughly, 75 countries. They brought different perspectives and thoughts to the seminar. However, although there were so many differences that the scholars had, eventually, they were blended as one. They share something in common among them. To me, attending this seminar was absolutely an enriching experience, not only in terms of expanding my horizon but also in terms of widening my perspective beyond the border that I usually have as an Indonesia citizen. In order to share my perspective on this seminar, I would spare a bit of my time to write about this. This would be a way for me to express what I thought as the most important thing from the seminar. I hope that the things that I write here will bring advantages for people who read this post. However, if you are also parts of this seminar, you are more than just welcome to add something to my post by commenting on it. Your comment and feedback would be important for this post and for all people who will read your comments as well.
The scholars who attended the seminar came from different backgrounds, namely countries, as well as from different major in their studies. Some of them studying at universities located in the east, the west, and the mid-west of the United States. This has made the seminar rich, especially when it was viewed through the diversity of thoughts and emotional scene that they personally had. During the seminar, there were a lot of things that all Fulbrighters could learn. I would say that each Fulbright scholar would have a different thing that he or she has in mind after attending this seminar; nevertheless, the most important thing to bear in mind after attending this seminar (in my perspective) is to have the mutual understanding and cross-culture understanding beyond borders become more enhanced. As the head of the seminar had pointed out, Joey Ham, the seminar was conducted as a way for all these bright scholars to engage in world-leaders activities and outgrow international mindset in fostering well-peace relationship among different countries. This statement would seem to be hard to perform solely or individually; nonetheless, the good relationship between countries is actually started from the good relationship between person to person and people to people. As a result, this sort of relationship will eventually transform into a good relationship between countries due to the application of mutual understanding. If the relationship between people is good; the possibility for good relationship between countries will be far from its stake in the future.
Why was the seminar held? In order to answer this question, I would refer the answer to the information mentioned in the book provided in the seminar.
The Denver Fulbright enrichment seminar was one of nine enrichment seminars hosted across the United States by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as part of its flagship Fulbright program. These enrichment seminars, an integral part of the Fulbright experience, benefit first-year Fulbright foreign students and support the overall mission of the Fulbright Program – to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
The purpose of the seminar was great. As someone who came from outside the United States, the purpose of the seminar really made sense. A lot of students who came to the United States to study met in one place, which was known as Denver Fulbright Enrichment Seminar. It was such a great event for all participants of the seminar to see and understand how similar we were in terms of commonalities that we have, although we came from different countries.
A statement which was meaningful from the seminar for me is this:
Today, Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by people of partner nations. The program actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.
From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which other countries and governments work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed in ensuing decades, but the fundamental principles of international partnership and mutual understanding remain at the core of the Fulbright Program’s mission.
The above statements clearly depict the good intention of the government of the United States: to make students from countries around the world be connected in a specific event and in a special circumstance through Fulbright scholarships. Those students might share different perspectives and ideas with American students and international students who came from other countries. This scholarship is not only giving great opportunities for the selected international students but also making good connections for American students to know and have friends who come from the world outside the United States. Because this scholarship is prestigious; therefore, those students who were selected to participate in this scholarship were prestigious students, both for academic background and personalities.
In the seminar, the participants were encouraged to engage in a lot of activities. One of the activities was a panel discussion about the growing minorities in changing the political landscapes in the United States. This panel was conducted by selected speakers in the United States. There was also an activity called as community service. All participants were divided into several groups. My group was the one that went to Montessori School. When my group was there, everyone seemed to be very happy and engaging. I became more welcoming to new friends. Another activity was joining the mock-presidential election. The demographic group in which I was participated in was the democrat. Overall, the activities in the seminar were great. This seminar is not only broadening my horizon but also expanding my point of view in understanding the system of how democracy turns into action in the United States, especially in looking at how the process of presidential election was conducted in the country. This is a great opportunity for me to learn about such a political system, though my field of study is not politics. All in all, this seminar enriches me with something beyond the perspectives that I have as a graduate student of English department.
What an unforgettable experience! To all Fulbright Students who attended the seminar, miss you all! 🙂
Below is the video to the event above. The video was inserted on March 10, 2019 (6 years after the creation of the video). I am sorry for the ‘young’ face over there. 🙂
Credit: The first picture was taken by Antonio Tahhan, a staff of IIE in New York, the United States. Together with Maha Kamal, he worked as a photographer in the event. The text typed in the picture was created by Syayid Sandi Sukandi.
This post is solely based on my perspective. It does not represent any formal documentaries of the U.S Department of State or the Republic of Indonesia. This writing is published for the purpose of sharing only. Anyone is welcomed to give his or her feedback in the comment boxes under this post, especially if you are one of the awesome Fulbrighters in the picture above. Thank you. ^_^