16 janvier 2022 ~ 0 Commentaire

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It is difficult to explain or quantify the social benefits of the Fulbright Scholarship, and it seems arrogant to assume that our individual experiences contribute to some broader societal benefit. But after seventy years, it is impossible to deny that the personal relationships forged because of the Fulbright Program play a greater role in society than we can fully grasp as the individual beneficiaries of these Scholarships. I don’t remember if we finished the Lamington trail that day in 2014. I do remember Ali teaching us to cook damper, an Aussie campfire bread cooked in a tinfoil right on the flames.
Being a Fulbrighter has been the greatest, most positive experience of my life, on so many levels. On a personal level, the joy of finding out that I was awarded a scholarship was exhilarating, and gives me goosebumps thinking about it to this very day, despite the many years in between. No Helium Balloons Another highlight was the first time I met other Fulbrighters at a Fulbright conference in Chicago, not long after I had arrived. I remember thinking that, wow, here I was, with all of these interesting people from diverse backgrounds, but all with something fantastic in common!

I interviewed 15 people from organisations with whom BHI had partnered at some time over approximately an eight year period. The people I interviewed had different roles within the organisations from leaders to service providers but they all spoke emphatically about the value of evaluation. They explained that, through ongoing monitoring and evaluation, they could make sure that the help that was being delivered really was experienced as help by the service recipients. They also emphasised the importance of having buy-in from the leadership of the organisation and of embedding systems within daily routines so that “the right thing to do is the easy thing to do”.
It was an astonishing engineering feat; sadly anything like this would be politically inconceivable in the U.S. today. Things picked up when I moved into Melbourne University’s Graduate House, a modern and friendly coed facility, at which resided graduate students from Australia and around the world. The long serving full time Graduate House Secretary was a gentleman of aristocratic bearing named William E. F. Berry, always fastidiously groomed and impeccably dressed. I would like to extend my thanks to the Australian-American Fulbright Commission and the University at Albany for providing me with this life-changing opportunity. In the years since my Fulbright experience I have been fortunate to be able to turn many of these ideas into action. I have worked with a wide range of individuals and organisations in all sectors as an adviser, facilitator, coach and mentor.
Climate aside, I quickly made my home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and learned a great deal about classroom pedagogy and teacher leadership from thought leaders in the field. The learning ran deeper than the lessons in the course outline. My grant enabled me to observe exceptional teachers creating rigorous and engaging learning experiences every day. Sometimes I was the learner, put through my paces as I grappled with unfamiliar concepts in organisational management and critical race theory.

Once a week, we all gathered around the one television set there to watch the “Mavis Bramston Show,” a quite terrific political satire revue far ahead of its time especially for Australia. It was the best thing on Australian television, nothing else being even close. The nearest equivalent today in the U.S. is Saturday Night Live. Travel from the U.S. to what we used to call Down Under is not to be taken lightly even now, but the challenge was more daunting by far back then.
Everything has to be bigger in Texas while having their politicians time limited was viewed by some Texans as a good way to avoid big-government and over-regulation. True to their proud independent nature, unlike a lot of US states, Texas has few points of interconnection to its neighbours despite having the highest electricity demand of any state in the Union. Many people I got to know in the industry and academia only half-jokingly said this was because Texas could one day secede from the Union and revert to being a republic, as it had been in the mid-nineteenth century.

I should also mention that the goal of attending the Sydney Olympic games came true. I attended the qualification track meets leading up to the games as well as the Sydney Olympic games themselves. Obviously, I did not get to run on the track during the races, but took time to reflect on the remarkable journey that brought me to the Sydney Games. It’s not often that you come across people whose professional careers have seen them transition between sectors.
I was moving forward on a project that would bring drama exercises to the pediatric ward. The project was part of a psychosocial pain therapy approach that helped children distract their attention from the fact that they were in the hospital setting. In parallel, I was realizing that I needed a deeper understanding of the mechanisms mediating pain relief. I heard about the United States Fulbright fellowship program through our UCI scholarship office and was encouraged to apply. The benefit of the Fulbright was the opportunity to train in almost any country in the world.

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