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

Zambian Women Are Dying From Preventable Complications

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

Top 8 Fulbright Students’ Must Pack Items

Lusaka, Zambia – One needs to get creative at the Birdsnest Backpackers when you are not just staying for a few days, but months. The bunkbed is covered with a very necessary mosquito netting but the cement ceiling made it hard to hang from the top.

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:

  1. This is an inside look at Becky Beamer’s Fulbright adventure packing must-haves and maybes. Only about half of these made the suitcase.

    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.

  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 one up at Target.  You can grab one during the “back to school” sales for about 15.00 USD.  And then wander over to Walmart and grab the 2.00 cheap-o flip flops.  I used them at the backpackers, around the pool, in my house, and when visiting friends.  
  7. Ziplock Baggies: Nobody does ziplock like Ziplock. I cherish the large baggies with a slide zipper closure.  Those are unheard of in Lusaka.  I brought 10 and I’ve reused each one about 30 times.  I keep bread, cheese, veggies, meat, chips, cereal and more in my baggies.  I wash them and reuse them another time.  I bet you don’t do that in the states.
  8. Journal: Books and paper are expensive.  In Zambia, it’s very difficult to find nice writing paper or a blank journal.  Throw one into your bag.  You will love the way your moleskine journal feels in your hands compared to what you can find in some cities.

Atlanta, Georgia – This sunrise was only made possible thanks to a delayed flight. The 39 hour long flight to Lusaka, Zambia just got 24 hours longer.

Yes, every country appointment is different but, these items should be a consideration for all. Please consult your specific country’s representative to see if they agree with this list. And put them on the spot with a couple questions like  “What do you and your colleagues purchase when you come back to the USA? What everyday items are super expensive there that I might want to bring with me?”.

 

Happy travels to all,

Becky

www.beckybeamer.com

 

Some of my first impressions of Zambia. The vibrant color is obvious. I wish I could send the feeling of growing in the heat of September.

Some of my first impressions of Zambia. The vibrant color is obvious. I wish I could send the feeling of growing in the heat of September.

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

The Fulbright: Why and When

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 luego!

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

A Note on the Application

Fulbright_blog_1

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go? Will I be able to adjust to a certain culture?

And there we have it! A rough guide to thinking through the country selection process. All that’s left is to fill out the application. No big deal, right?

Who knew one cup of a coffee with a friend and former Fulbright ETA could alter my life plans so drastically. I am so glad I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone and plunge headlong into this new adventure! In a little over a week from now I’ll be leaving Dallas and flying to the Czech Republic to begin my year as an ETA.

“Czech” out my next blog post to learn more about where I’ll be living and how I’m preparing for the upcoming year! (I would like to say that I’ll stop making the painfully cheesy “Czech” jokes, but we all know I won’t.)

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