Exploration to an American Indian Village

Visiting Fulbright Scholars in the New York area escaped urban life to learn about the daily life of the Lenape tribe prior to the arrival of the European settlers through a visit to Winakung at Waterloo. Winakung means “place of sassafrass” and recreates what life in a historic Lenape village was like.

Scholars learn about Lenape cooking.

Scholars learn about Lenape cooking.

During a tour of Winakung, participants visited 12 interactive stations about aspects of Lenape life, ranging from cooking, fishing and hunting to medicine, courtship rituals and religious beliefs. Scholars also took part in hands on activities that allowed them to experience how the Lenape lived.

Scholar Khaled Taktek from Canada tries Lenape-style target practice.

Scholar Khaled Taktek from Canada tries Lenape-style target practice.

Scholars were impressed by Lenape culture, learning that it was a matrilineal society where women had considerable rights including property and divorce. Lenape had a deep respect for the environment that influenced how they ate, made clothes, hunted and fished. They knew how to preserve meat and used all parts of the animals.

Scholars, Bin Jin from China La Lashvili from Georgia touch a deer pelt.

Scholars, Bin Jin from China La Lashvili from Georgia touch a deer pelt.

The day at Winakung was extremely valuable and exposed a part of American history and culture rarely seen by visitors.

Fulbright Scholars and their families at Winakung at Waterloo.

Fulbright Scholars and their families at Winakung at Waterloo.

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A Meaningful Stroll Along the Los Angeles River

Los Angeles area Fulbright Visiting Scholars enjoyed a relaxing tour and picnic along the Los Angeles River where they learned about the river’s history and current restoration efforts.

The Los Angeles River runs through downtown Los Angeles near several local landmarks and has been featured in a number of classic American films including Chinatown and Grease. Today, the river is undergoing a $1.2 billion restoration and revitalization project  to make it an attractive and central part of the city.

Scholars in the Courtyard of the LA Music Center.

Scholars in the courtyard of the LA Music Center.

Throughout the river walk, scholars enjoyed a variety of sites including the Los Angeles Music Center, bridges with beautiful 1920’s style architectecture and a quiet rural park. Enjoying their picnic lunch in a park, scholars remarked at the contrast between urban and rural areas they were able to see along the river.

Scholars pose in front of one of several bridges built in the 1920s

Scholars pose in front of one of several bridges built in the 1920s

Scholars were able to witness how a community has come together to restore a little known part of Los Angeles.

Scholars enjoy a picnic lunch in a riverside park.

Scholars enjoy a picnic lunch in a riverside park.

Day at the United Nations in New York

For Fulbright Scholars, international work and cooperation is a given, and earlier this month they explored these ideas at the United Nations (UN) Building in New York.

The Fulbright group in front of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s famous globe sculpture entitled “Sphere within a Sphere”

The Fulbright group in front of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s famous globe sculpture entitled “Sphere within a Sphere”

Scholars were treated to two private briefings, the first of which was on sexual violence in conflict, led by La Niece Collins. Sexual violence as a weapon of war has been used in recent conflicts in the Congo, Somalia, and former Yugoslavia, and there is rarely justice for the survivors. In fact, the perpetrators may even be in positions of authority, and the UN is working to rectify these situations. It was fascinating for scholars to hear about negotiating international law and traditional customs when mediating these types of issues.

The second briefing covered working with the UN in matters other than policy. Former Fulbright grantee Anton Botha, currently an industrial psychologist for the General Secretariat, discussed various ways of working with the UN such as volunteering or interning, and the UN employment strategy which includes support staff in a variety of fields.

“The two briefings helped me understand the challenges of working in the organization and how it requires a lot of motivation and commitment to work in extreme and dangerous environments around the world,” said Ussama Yaqub, Fulbright Student from Pakistan. “I was impressed by the conviction and dedication with which La Neice spoke about her cause and Anton’s talk motivated me to think about volunteering for the UN.”

Fulbright scholar Daan Bauwens from Belgium and Dren Pozhegu from Kosovo inside the General Assembly Hall

Fulbright Scholars Daan Bauwens from Belgium and Dren Pozhegu from Kosovo inside the General Assembly Hall

Following the briefings, the group toured the rest of the UN building. They were able to see important rooms such as the Security Council and General Assembly rooms, as well as view artwork from many different countries that had been donated to the building. It was a truly valuable experience for scholars and students alike to be able to take an inside look at this notable organization!

The tour guide discuses UN peace keeping operations

The tour guide discuses UN peace keeping operations

On Open Waters with Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating

What better to do on a warm spring day than go sailing! This month Fulbright Scholars in the DC-Maryland area had the chance to meet with Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), an organization that provides accessible sailing opportunities to those with physical or developmental disabilities.

Lance Hinrichs, VP of CRAB’s Board of Directors, speaks with the group about adaptive sailing

Lance Hinrichs, VP of CRAB’s Board of Directors, speaks with the group about adaptive sailing

The day began at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland, where Lance Hinrichs, the Vice President of CRAB’s board of directors introduced the organization’s mission. He spoke about the spinal injury that led to his own disability, and how sailing can be made into an adaptive sport for fun and active recreation for all.

Scholars from Azerbaijan, Egypt, Armenia, and Turkey come back from a successful trip on the water

Scholars from Azerbaijan, Egypt, Armenia, and Turkey come back from a successful trip on the water

Scholars then got into sailboats with CRAB participants and volunteers and set out on the Chesapeake Bay! For many scholars, this was their first experience sailing, and the event was particularly special in honoring the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This hands-on learning about adaptive recreation was a wonderful way for scholars to engage with the community while trying a new sport.

Entire group with David Levin posing on the Marina, in front of CRAB’s sail boats

Entire group with David Levin posing on the Marina, in front of CRAB’s sail boats

Fulbright Scholars Give Back at the Westside Food Bank

Scholars in California recently took the time to give back to their community and help the homeless. They began the day with a visit at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organization that researches topics relevant to public policy. For this program, they provided insight based on their research on homelessness and homeless populations in the United States, a relevant topic to the work of several scholars.

A scholar responds to the RAND speakers

A scholar responds to the RAND speakers

Following this thoughtful briefing, scholars went to a Santa Monica homeless shelter to hear about their work at the shelter and with low income housing placements. The discussion was inspiring for scholars, who responded in turn with diligent efforts at their next location, the Westside Food Bank. Here, scholars assisted in boxing oranges for distribution, and left the event feeling that their actions had made a difference.

Sorting oranges at the Food Bank!

Sorting oranges at the Food Bank!

Ideas Bloom in D.C. at the Japanese Stone Lantern Ceremony

Springtime in D.C. means one thing for residents and tourists alike: cherry blossoms! These beautiful trees were a gift to the U.S. from the people of Japan as a symbol of friendship, and they bloom along the Tidal Basin every spring. A lesser known aspect of this historical gift was the Japanese Stone Lantern that later accompanied it. Standing at a monumental 8.5 feet tall, this lantern was carved in Japan nearly four thousand years ago during the Tokugawa period.

Once a year during the Cherry Blossom Festival, there is a ceremony to light the lantern, which scholars had the opportunity to attend. The ceremony is highlighted with music, including the American and Japanese national anthems, and a keynote by His Excellency Kenichiro Sasae, the Ambassador of Japan to the United States. The lantern was then lit by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing the Embassy of Japan.

After the ceremony, scholars were given a brief overview of the cherry blossoms by a CIES staff member and local Washingtonian, and even got tips on the best spots to visit during the season. For scholars and their families, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about Japanese American culture in the United States, and a picturesque way to spend a warm spring day.

Scholars and CIES staff pose in front of the Tidal Basin after the Ceremonial Lighting of the Japanese Stone Lantern

Scholars and CIES staff pose in front of the Tidal Basin after the Ceremonial Lighting of the Japanese Stone Lantern

Traversing Tulsa: The Role of Land in American History

Earlier this month, Fulbright Visiting Scholars had the opportunity to learn about the “Wild West” through the lens of history and diversity in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa offers a variety of cultural resources that scholars experienced during their four-day stay in the state.

The seminar started with a riveting keynote on “Finding the American West,” led by Dr. James Ronda of the University of Tulsa, who discussed the landscape and the impact of humans on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. This address was followed by a western swing band performance that showed the lively and upbeat side of the Americana style.

Wild Bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Wild bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

The following day was filled with exploration around the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Scholars travelled the Prairie by bus with guides who covered relevant topics such as the ecosystem at the preserve and hydraulic fracturing. During lunch, Dr. Bob Pickering delivered a riveting talk on the importance of bison as an icon of the West. Scholars also visited the Osage Tribal Museum to learn about the lifestyle, history, and traditions of the Osage Nation.

Lou Brock addressing scholars at the Osage Tribal Museum

Mr. Lou Brock addressing scholars at the Osage Tribal Museum

With an early morning the next day at the Gilcrease Museum, scholars attended panels on topics ranging from the experience of minority groups in the area, to the influence of land on popular music, to the future of the West and what it holds. Between panels, volunteer docents also provided tours for participants to see the art and artifacts on display at this fascinating museum.

The final day of the seminar started with a volunteer activity at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Scholars got their hands dirty for a good cause by planting herbs and repackaging food items for the community. It was a valuable activity, and shortly after Dr. Doug Price and Dr. Cheryl Mather led the scholars in a closing discussion on the impact of what they had learned the past four days. Scholars departed with a new, nuanced understanding of the American West, as well as fun photos of the people (and bison!) they’d met at the seminar.

Scholars volunteer with a local community food bank

Scholars volunteer with a local community food bank