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ETA Life in Budapest

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 in Europe, Teaching | 0 comments

Living in Bulgaria as a Fulbright scholar has been an immense gift. Whether it is teaching my 12th grade business English students about economics and teamwork or working with 8th grade students on poetry, each day is a new challenge and experience. The country has welcomed me with open arms, a bitter winter, and phenomenal food. Some of my highlights have been coaching a Speech and Debate team, weekly folk dancing lessons, and being a part of the Fulbright community in Bulgaria. It is an honor to be a part of a community with so many incredibly intelligent and world-changing individuals.   Posted by Erica...

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All is Well in Greifswald!

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 in Europe, Research | 0 comments

All is well in Greifswald! From September through December of 2017, the machine at which I am working, the Wendelstein 7-X, was in operational phase 1.2a, during which I was working in the control room to help operate and collect data with specially filtered cameras. At the end of November, we ran the experiment that I am working on, in which we tested specifically designed new magnetic field configurations to mimic situations we might reach in later phases. OP1.2b should begin in late summer, and then the hardware I am preparing for, the scraper elements, will be installed in the machine and we will repeat the same experiments to see how the scrapers affect the plasma. In the meantime, I am analyzing data from the previous phase, preparing multiple presentations on my work, and learning to operate probes which can be used to measure the temperature and density of the plasma near one of the installed scraper elements. From this Saturday to next Wednesday, I am attending the Fulbright mid-year seminar in Berlin, and I will be giving a five minute “Ted Talk style” presentation on my research there. In mid-April, I will be flying back to the United States for a “working group meeting” at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where I will give a 20-30 minute presentation on the scraper element project. Then in the beginning of July, I hope to attend the European Physical Society’s 45th Conference on Plasma Physics in Prague to present a poster on my work and to learn more about recent advances in my field. When my Fulbright scholarship ends in mid-July, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory will be taking over my support and employing me as a summer student so that I can stay in Germany and continue working on my project until the beginning of September. At that time, I will be moving to New Jersey to begin a PhD program in plasma physics at Princeton University. Here are two photos of me here, one of me working in the control room with a few colleagues and a recent one taken of me in my supervisor’s laboratory. Post by Alex...

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Zambian Women Are Dying From Preventable Complications

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Africa, News, Program, Region, Research | 0 comments

I am humbled and grateful that I have so many healthcare options, which are not available to most women in Lusaka, Zambia. Childbirth never seemed dangerous or scary to me. But, how would I know? I have never been pregnant. These are reflections after my time as a Fulbright Student Scholar in Lusaka, Zambia. I completed a documentary short as the research element of my appointment. I was embedded on the labor ward at the University Teaching Hospital.  The hospital’s visuals are very different from my hospital experiences in US.  But, the human connection between doctors and patients is hauntingly similar. Those narratives resonated with me. The final  film, WARD B12,  offers a hyper-realistic behind-the-scenes view of the low cost labor ward, B12, at the University Teaching Hospital. Follow patients,  doctors, caregivers, and midwives as their days intersect and unfold into a powerful narrative about determination, strength, life, and loss.  The film highlights the need for improvements in women’s healthcare and the powerful personal narratives that beat all odds. The film tackles globally significant, easily relatable, issues that bridge borders and have the potential to deliver a new, significant point of view to an international audience. Watch the trailer for the film, WARD B12, on vimeo now.  https://vimeo.com/206996681 While in Zambia, I made connections that I will continue to grow.  And I hope that my documentation will add to a public discourse on the subject of women’s health and specifically encourage institutions and individuals to give available resources. Every adventure supplies new inspiration for artistic expression, content and process.  I believe in the immortality of art & collaboration. With so many stories to tell, there’s no reason to stay in one place. BIO: Becky Beamer is a freelance documentarian who is currently searching for screening and speaking opportunities related to this project, WARD B12.  For Becky Beamer’s contact information and other projects visit her  website....

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Top 8 Fulbright Students’ Must Pack Items

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Africa, Program, Region, Research | 0 comments

Congratulations to all Fulbright recipients for 2017-18 school year.  I fully understand the intensity of the application process and then the excitement of receiving the appointment.  You will surely have an unforgettable adventure.  I am taking a moment to reminisce about my time last year preparing to depart to Lusaka, Zambia. I wish I had a list of recommended items to throw in my suitcase.  And then I really wished I had that same list even more once I arrived and spent a lot of money on some items that are much cheaper in the USA. So, without further adieu – I give you my list of Top 8 Items to Pack for your Fulbright Adventure! Top 8 Items to Pack for your Fulbright Adventure: Headlamp : Ugh, I always pack my headlamp.  I take it to the beach.  I take it to youth hostels and I take it camping.  I can’t remember a documentary shoot in 10 years when I didn’t have my headlamp.  But, I forgot to take my headlamp to Zambia. Zambia suffers from regular load shedding (or planned power outages) across the city.  I broke down and had to buy one since I had no light in the neighborhood. Crystal Light Single Serving Packets : Nothing gets older to drink than bottled water for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Well, it was water or drink super sugary soft drinks and juices.  I’ll be feeling the effects of this bad choice as I try to lose the 10 pounds I packed on from poor eating habits.  Everything here is full fat and full sugar. It’s something to think about before you put on a couple extra pounds like I did. Now, I truly appreciate the options for healthy and safe eating that we have in the USA Fast Drying Camping Towel : Like many budget travelers, I found myself bunking in at a backpackers when I first arrived. I was so thankful that I could wake up to a towel the first day I arrived. It also packed easily into a backpack when I went on small journeys or sat by a pool. Carabiner : I attach things to things to things.  I packed pretty light and so, I couldn’t afford to misplace anything. So, I attached my shoes, umbrella, and bag of food to my backpack.  Also, in a pinch, I found that it could be used as a trade.  Carabiners are impossible to find in Lusaka so it’s a hot commodity on the crafts market. Extra Battery Pack for Phone – Solar If Possible : I mentioned before that Lusaka regularly has power restrictions.  As a technologically based project and person who likes my computer, a lack of power slowed me down.  I regularly sat in the dark doing literally nothing but, being mosquito food. I wish I had brought a power block.  If power is questionable in your Fulbright location, splurge for power now. Also, I did have the forethought to bring rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.  That has saved me a lot of money. Cloth Folding shower caddy / Flip Flops: This item is probably not at the top of your list of things to buy before you leave.  But, if you are sharing a bathroom at any point in adventure pick...

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Thoughts one month before departure for Poland!!!!

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Europe, Research | 0 comments

Hey all. My name is Pandora White and I am a 4th year chemistry doctoral candidate at the University of Alabama. I have been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Grant to Poland for the 2016- 2017 cycle. Currently, I am less than 30 days away from my scheduled departure. I am currently engaged in packing and preparing for departure. So, I will tell you my thoughts about this process. First of all, let me inform you of some of my traits that heavily influence my packing process. I am an African American with natural hair, plus size, and a solo traveler. In America, this may not seem like a big deal. However, when it comes to other countries this seems to be an incredible mixture of traits. I have travelled abroad to 7 countries and have spent months in a few of them.  So while preparing to depart, I always ask myself these questions: Will my race/nationality cause a problem? In countries like Jamaica or Ghana where the majority of the population are members of the African diaspora, I did not have any problems with race. However, in some of the other countries I’ve visited, I felt my blackness. People stare at me, take photos of me, or ask me tons of questions. So in general the normal responses I get when people see me are: In some countries I have travelled to, some people have not seen African Americans and they want to document it in some way. Some people ask to take my photo and sometimes they just do it without permission. It makes me feel like I have my own paparazzi.  I have started taking photos with the people who ask to take my photo to document it. I generally respond kindly to these requests, and the people leave me alone.  Here are a few photos of this: Confused/ Misinformed/Ignorant. These people are generally not a problem.  They just do not know of my culture, history and how to approach me. I consider those as teaching moments, but sometimes they anger me.  Recently, I was in the Philippines and a guy from Amsterdam asked me “Why are Negroes in America so violent?”  This was during the time when BLM protests were happening all around America. Instead of responding angrily, I explained to him the events that led to the protests and hopefully that influenced him not to think that African Americans are violent. Anger/racism. Although, I have never had anyone openly attack me. I have had a couple of altercations. I am always concerned about racists. What to do about my hair& skin?A lot of study abroad programs tell you that you can just pick up shampoo anywhere so you do not need to pack it. However, in my case I cannot do that.  My hair is all natural. A lot of the things I use are not available in certain countries like Taiwan.  In those instances, I make my hair care and skin products from raw ingredients. So I have been compiling recipes and gathering some of the ingredients that may not be readily available such as Shea butter. Will they have clothes my size? Being both plus size and tall in America, there are specialty stores and tons of options which makes it easy...

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Near the Halfway Mark

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 in South America, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Near the Halfway Mark

I am now almost halfway through my time in Brazil as a Fulbright grantee, and I have had a great experience so far!  A lot has happened since my last blog post, but I’ll try to fill you in. In the end, I ended up being assigned to the city of Belo Horizonte in the middle/southeast of Brazil, which was one of the two cities I requested as preferences.  So that worked out perfectly!  Belo Horizonte may not be as famous as Rio or Sao Paulo outside of Brazil, but with about 2.5 million people it is the 6th largest city in Brazil and the capital of Minas Gerais, one of the largest and richest states in Brazil in terms of history and culture.  I am finding that Belo Horizonte has everything you expect from a huge city in terms of things to do, while also maintaining the smaller feel and particular culture of the state of Minas Gerais, which is known for its warm and receptive people, comfort food, and colonial history.  I really could not have been happier with my city placement, given the wide variety of options in a country as large as Brazil. Of course, there is so much more to this year as a Fulbrighter than how much I enjoy the city I was placed.  As an ETA (English Teaching Assistant), the vast majority of my time during the week revolves around attending and preparing classes in the Ingles sem Fronteiras (English without Borders) program here at the Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG.  My role in the classroom varies depending on the class.  All of the English classes here have a professor who is responsible for organizing and teaching the class, so it is up to them how to use me as a teaching assistant in the classroom.  Sometimes I attend classes just to help lead activities and participate in whatever the students are learning that day, and other times I am asked to prepare a specific presentation or “workshop” to lead myself.  I work with 4 professors, each of which has 3 classes, and so I only go to certain classes each week because otherwise it would be impossible for me to attend every class.  So actually my schedule changes from week to week, based on which classes my professors ask me to attend or when I have a language or cultural workshop scheduled in advance. One very positive experience I have enjoyed so far has been my development of a “pronunciation workshop” that I have created for the English classes here at UFMG.  It is basically a 2-hour interactive presentation about English phonetics and pronunciation, mixed in with lots of participation from the students, explaining and practicing tons of sounds and words that can be difficult for Brazilians speaking English.  I have done this 2-hour workshop about 15 times this semester in many different English classes, constantly modifying it as I think of better materials or examples, so this has been a major project for me and I have gotten great feedback from both students and professors.  As a result, I have also started weekly informal meetings for students to show up and practice their conversation and pronunciation with me, and yesterday I had a workshop proposal approved to share my pronunciation materials with...

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My Fulbright App: Going Back to Brazil

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in South America, Teaching | 0 comments

My Fulbright App: Going Back to Brazil

Fulbright for me was something that all happened rather quickly.  In the summer before my senior year, I returned from 5 months studying abroad in Florianópolis, Brazil, without a clear idea of what I wanted to do a year later after graduating.  I was an international studies major, I knew I had at least a vague interest in working abroad, but I also had ideas of going to graduate school.  It was actually in the first couple weeks of classes last fall, when I overheard one of my friends talking about his plans to apply for a Fulbright grant to teach English, that I started thinking about Fulbright seriously for the first time.  Once I did more research and discovered that the application deadline was just a couple weeks away, I quickly got in touch with the wonderful Dr. Beverly Hawk, attended one of her useful information sessions in BB Comer, met with her 1-on-1 in her office, and quickly got working on the application. Teaching English in some fashion had always been a dream of mine, so I knew I wanted to apply for an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant instead of a study or research grant.  So for me, deciding the country was really the main choice to be made.  I loved my semester in Brazil, I had even done a little bit of volunteer English teaching in Brazil before coming back home, and I had devoted significant time and effort to learn Portuguese.  So did I want to continue following my interest in Brazil by teaching English there through Fulbright, or did I want to see another part of the world and go to a different country for a different experience?  In the end I decided to apply for Brazil, knowing that my background would make me far more competitive for a grant there than anywhere else, and feeling confident that I already loved the country and its culture. Dr. Hawk guided me excellently through my application process, and then the final piece was the interview here on campus, in order to be recommended by UA to the national committee.  Although I was nervous going in, it turned out to be quite enjoyable – the UA interview committee just wanted to get a better feel for me as a person and as an applicant, so that they could help me show myself as best as possible.  I was also able to ask my own questions to get a better picture of how Fulbright works and what its mission is all about.  It wasn’t long before I knew that Fulbright was far and away my main dream for post-graduation, so during the next several months, I just waited anxiously and excitedly to find out the result.  In January I found out I had made the final cut, and in March I found out I was offered a grant.  The feeling of relief, triumph, and anxious excitement was incredible. Having graduated in May, I am now working at UA in both the Education Abroad office and as a Portuguese language trainer in the Critical Languages Center, through the end of the fall semester.  I leave for Brazil with Fulbright in mid-February, where I will remain through the middle or end of November (a 9-month grant).  Now the next...

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The Fulbright: Why and When

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Europe, Teaching | 0 comments

The Fulbright: Why and When

Choosing to apply for a Fulbright grant was the easiest part of the application. The steps that come after that initial choice certainly lend themselves to considerably more effort and significant reward. I decided that I wanted to apply for a Fulbright grant in my sophomore year of college. I set the application as one of my goals (I still managed to procrastinate on starting it) and kept the Fulbright in mind throughout my college experience. I chose to apply for the English Teaching Assistantship in Spain and I made this choice early on. I am fluent in Spanish and had studied abroad in Spain and visited once before. If you have been to Spain, you can probably understand how it was an easy choice. It’s hard not to fall in love with the culture, the art, and the people. However, my love for all of those things is only superseded by my love for Spanish language. The opportunity to live in a place that is the origin of the language that I love was irresistible. The only other passion that I have that parallels my love for the Spanish language is my passion for teaching and helping others. The ETA Fulbright position offered me the opportunity to incorporate all of the things I truly care about, and the decision to apply for this type of grant was hardly even a choice. The application process comes a lot more easily if you choose what you love. I began my application about a month before it was due, which I would not recommend. There is no such thing as having too much time to work on something. Although I regret waiting to start the application, I’m a notorious procrastinator and there is a 100% chance that I would do it the same all over again. With the help of Dr. Beverly Hawk, I completed my two essays, my application, and secured my three recommenders within the month of application period that I had allowed myself. After months of waiting to hear back about my Fulbright grantee status, while I was in California over spring break, I decided to check my email. I normally have a policy that while I’m on vacation, I don’t check email, but I had a feeling, and following that feeling led to my discovery that I had received a Fulbright grant to be an English Teaching Assistant in Spain. My last semester of my undergraduate career flew by from that moment, with me completely euphoric (aside from the visa process, which you will definitely hear about later on). I cannot wait to be living my dream of teaching and living in Madrid, Spain and that journey starts in 8 days. An anomaly for me, I am packed and ready to go. I am still in utter disbelief that I will be living this experience in a little over a week, but thankful for the opportunity and those who encouraged and supported me on the way. I’m looking forward to updating in my next blog post, straight out of Madrid. ¡Hasta...

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A Note on the Application

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Europe, Teaching | 0 comments

In typical Brianna fashion, by chance I emailed Dr. Hawk at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships the day on-campus Fulbright applications were due. The night before former Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Emma Fick and I caught up over coffee, and she strongly encouraged me to apply. The program had been rather off of my radar, but I decided to take the leap of faith and send an email to Dr. Hawk. Needless to say, I was incredibly behind in the application process and threw myself into the process of selecting a country to apply for. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the mourning pouring over the requirements, expectations, and acceptance rates for countless countries. I believe deciding on a country was in all honesty the hardest part of the application process! By 3:00 AM in the morning, after a long night made slightly better by numerous cups of tea and First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold album (highly recommend!), I finally selected a country. Here are some tips: Narrow down the number of countries by selecting a particular region or two from the Fulbright website (i.e. East Asia-Pacific, Europe & Eurasia, etc.) Make an Excel document to keep track of the following information for each country: Type of placement – university, high school, middle school, elementary school, etc. Language requirements– Many countries require that you have a certain level of proficiency in the native language. This requirements helped me narrow down my options as I only speak one language at a conversational level. Expectations – Some countries require that you also submit an additional project proposal. Others expect you to be teach ACT/SAT prep classes, coach a sports team, etc. Your Role as a Teacher – Does the country specify whether you will be responsible for teaching an entire class on your own for the year? This means you’ll likely be responsible for developing curriculum, etc. Or will you be assisting your mentor teacher with speaking exercises and serving as a conversation partner? This is very important to consider, especially if you might be worried about your level of teaching experience. Also see if they specify the number of hours you’ll be working each week. Preferred Candidates – You’ll see that some countries will note that preference is given to Bachelor’s and Master’s students enrolled in particular disciplines, such as STEM disciplines and the humanities (such as Poland). Each country is looking for a slightly different applicant. Acceptance Rates – It isn’t a bad idea to take a look at your odds and see how much competition you’re likely to have for the position. Consider the country’s culture, climate, and way of life. Steps 1 and 2 should help you narrow down your choices quite a bit. Now it’s time to really delve into what makes each country unique. Aspects such as the climate are relatively easy to Google, however you would be surprised how hard it is to get a handle on a country’s culture from online searches alone. Try to read some blog posts from former ETAs or from Americans living abroad in that country to get an idea of what life is like there. How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go? Will I be able to adjust to a...

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My Fulbright Application Year

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Europe, Research | 0 comments

My Fulbright Application Year

Hi everyone!  These past few months, I’ve been toying with the idea of maintaining a blog for my experiences this coming year as a Fulbright grantee in Spain.  I’ve decided to go through with it, to document what is sure to be one of the most exciting, challenging, and transformative years of my life for myself and others.  First off, I just want to say how blessed I feel to have been given this opportunity.  I wouldn’t be where I am right now without the support of countless professors, mentors, family members, and friends.  It’s been a crazy ride getting to this point and I can’t wait to embark upon this next stage of my life. Applying for a Fulbright grant has been on my radar for quite a few years, although I can’t say I recall the exact instance in which I first heard about it.  I’ve spoken with numerous past grantees that raved about their experiences and the two main types of grants, for Graduate Researchers and English Teaching Assistants, were both very applicable for me as a future healthcare professional.  Though I did travel to several Spanish-speaking and non Spanish-speaking countries during my undergraduate years, these trips were never for an extended period of time.  I yearned to truly feel as though I have lived in, not simply visited, another country, which is exactly what the Fulbright Program would give me an opportunity to do.  It was not a matter of whether or not I wanted to apply for the program, but of deciding upon a country and grant category as well as finding the time to put together a competitive application.  Flashing back to the summer of 2014, I was simultaneously working, studying for the MCAT in July, submitting primary and secondary medical school applications, and applying for the Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program.  Needless to say, my preparations for applying for a Fulbright were put on the back burner for most of that summer.  I didn’t really start to solidify my country and grant type until the end of July, which I DON’T suggest.  Considering that the University of Alabama campus deadline for submitting the application was in early September, I had my work cut out for me. As I mentioned, the two types of grants that I was considering were for English Teaching Assistants and Graduate Researchers.  After consulting with Dr. Beverly Hawk, the campus Fulbright advisor, I decided that I was best suited for a position as a graduate researcher.  In order to apply for this type of grant, I would need to identify a host institution and mentor in my country of interest, develop a project proposal, and secure a letter of invitation from the institution.  I had previously participated in an HIV/AIDS summer research fellowship with a Principal Investigator from France, so I reached out to him about any Spanish HIV/AIDS researchers that he knew.  Fortunately, he was able to connect me with several of his good colleagues across Spain whose research interests aligned with my own.  I received offers to work at two institutes, one in Madrid and one in Barcelona, so my last decision before proceeding with the application process was choosing between the two institutes.  I ultimately decided to indicate the Hospital Ramon y Cajal in Madrid...

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