Many Cultures, One Neighborhood: A Fulbright Adventure to Harlem

On a sunny day in early May, Visiting Fulbright Scholars and their families located in the greater New York City area trekked to a famous neighborhood in their host city. Although not publicly known for tourism, Harlem proved to be a rewarding and unique area to visit.

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

The group was guided by a specialist in African-American history through the vibrant streets of Harlem. Beginning at the famous Apollo Theater, Fulbrighters learned about events such as the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance. Eventually the scholars landed at their midway destination, the First Corinthians Baptist Church, where they listened to beautiful Gospel hymns and listened in to a service on the need for justice in the black community. Reverend Lekisha related this necessity to the social unrest unraveling in Baltimore.

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

After the moving experience at the church, the group toured a part of Harlem known as “Little Africa,” named for the presence of West African immigrants. In this area, scholars passed the mosque Masjid Malcom Shabazz, where they seized the opportunity to discuss Malcom X’s philosophy of unifying Muslims from all cultural backgrounds.

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

At the end of the outing, scholars were treated to discover American “soul food,” with delicious samplings such as fried chicken, candied yams, macaroni & cheese, and sweet tea. Overall, scholars were amazed at how safe and lively the streets of Harlem were, which is typically stereotyped as a poor and dangerous neighborhood of the city.

Advertisements

Sailing Down the Hudson

Fulbright Visiting Scholars in the Greater New York City area were fortunate enough to go on a sailing adventure on the Hudson, one of the rivers that surrounds the island of Manhattan that creeps through the state of New York.

Fulbright scholars learning how the Sloop’s crew navigates along the Hudson River

Fulbright scholars learning how the Sloop’s crew navigates along the Hudson River

To begin the day on the water, scholars and their families were taken to the old capitol of New York, Kingston. This city was once a transportation hub for railways and ships. The group then had a three-hour long sailing experience with local non-profit, Clearwater, an organization that influences environmental policy and heightens awareness about ecological issues. The Fulbright crew learned about the river’s relationship to New York City, its role in supporting local ecosystems, and the environmental issues it faces. They also had the chance to drop a fishing net into the water, man the sails, and navigate the Hudson. Beyond the beauty of the Hudson Valley, Fulbrighters also saw an American Eel!

Fulbright scholars helping to raise the sails of the Clearwater

Fulbright scholars helping to raise the sails of the Clearwater

After getting back their land-legs, the group took a stroll on the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, known as the Walkway Over the Hudson. The participants were astounded at how beautiful their ecosystem was, especially considering that the big city was only a few miles away. With a landscape that gorgeous, who wouldn’t want to preserve its wonder?

The Fulbright group on Walkway Over The Hudson

The Fulbright group on Walkway Over The Hudson

Dutch scholar Mathijs Van de Sande, Irish scholar Ailbhe Kenny and her husband Richard getting their bearings

Dutch scholar Mathijs Van de Sande, Irish scholar Ailbhe Kenny and her husband Richard getting their bearings

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.

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

NY Scholars Learn Emergency Preparedness Skills at the American Red Cross

February 20:  Scholars had the opportunity to learn hands-on emergency preparedness skills at a visit to the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross (ARC), provides disaster relief and emergency education within the U.S. and the New York Chapter is its largest and most active.

The day began with a warm welcome from Mr. Edmund Torraca, the Brooklyn disaster Program Manager. He introduced Scholars to the wide range of disaster relifef services that the organization provides, from responding to small home fires to large natural disasters such as Hurrican Sandy. The ARC works closely with local police and fire departments to provide shelter, food, and health services imediately after disasters happen.

Edmund Torraca, Brokklyn Disaster Program Manager, shows Scholars a map of incidents the NYC chapter responded to last year.

Edmund Torraca, Brokklyn Disaster Program Manager, shows Scholars a map of incidents the NYC chapter responded to last year.

Following the introduction, Scholars participated in a hands-on emergency preparedness workshop. Award-winning actress and Health and Safety Services Instructor, Lipica Shah, spoke on the importance of putting together an emergency communication plan and safety kit. In the second part of the workshop Scholars learned and practiced basic cardiopumonary rescuscitation (CPR) skills.They also learned how to respond to everyday emergencies such as choking, burns and seizures.

Fulbright Scholar Romain Maitra from India volunteers to play the role of victim, while American Red Cross instructor, Lipica Shah, demonstrates how to stop heavy bleeding from a deep wound.

Fulbright Scholar Romain Maitra from India volunteers to play the role of victim, while American Red Cross instructor, Lipica Shah, demonstrates how to stop heavy bleeding from a deep wound.

Many Scholars had been familiar with the Red Cross’ work in their own countries, but were surprised to find out about the organization’s work on a local level with first aid training and blood drives. They were also impressed to learn that the ARC is 90% volunteer run. They greatly appreciated being able to learn basic emergency skills that they could use both in the United States and in their home communities.

(left to right) ] Amakai Kefas from United Kingdom and Marta Manczuk from Poland, practice their CPR skills.

(left to right) ] Amakai Kefas from United Kingdom and Marta Manczuk from Poland, practice their CPR skills.

 

New York Winter Holiday Celebration

December 11: Fulbright Visiting Scholars and their family members joined with Fulbright Students and Staff at SoHo’s Pomegranate Gallery in New York to celebrate the winter holidays. The event marked the year’s end with food, drink, community and art. For some Fulbrighters this offered an opportunity to say farewell to friends at the end of their grant. For others it was an opportunity to catch-up with eachother and share their experiences.

The event was made more special by the presence of the gallery’s owner, Iraqi artist, Oded Halahmy. His non-profit foundation supports artistic expression and cultural understanding of the Middle East. The Pomegrante Gallery displays the work of Irqai artists. Throughout the evening he warmly welcomed the group and spoke with grantees, sharing his passion for cultural exchange.

Scholars appreciated the chance to gather at the end of the semester and take in the gallery’s beautiful atmosphere.

(left to right) Beulah Shekhar from India, Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan, Zainab Riaz from Pakistan and Evetla Londo from Albania with her son, Piro.

(left to right) Beulah Shekhar from India, Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan, Zainab Riaz from Pakistan and Evetla Londo from Albania with her son, Piro.

(left to right) Tore Bjorgo from Norway, Amakai Kefas from the United Kingdom and Asli Ozyar from Turkey.

(left to right) Tore Bjorgo from Norway, Amakai Kefas from the United Kingdom and Asli Ozyar from Turkey.

Scholars Cheer on the Brooklyn Nets at Basketball Game

February 2: Scholars watched the Brooklyn Nets basketball team take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. They were joined by native Brooklynite and basketball expert, Shayna Jeffers, who chatted with scholars about the rules of the game, its place in American culture and the Barclays Center’s role in the local community.

The game opened with a Gospel rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” performed by the Mcdonald’s Gospel Super Choir followed by an intense neck-to-neck game.

Scholars enjoyed taking in the game’s festive atmosphere including local food, enthusiastic fans, entertainment, and audience participation. They even took part in wildly cheering on the Nets. The game ended with a winning basket in the last seconds with a 102-100 victory for the Nets.

The event also offered Scholars an opportunity to see the role of basketball in bringing Americans together. One Scholar from Turkey remarked on how impressed she was to see people of all types, men, women, children, and couples enjoying the game. Another Scholar from China spoke on how the game allowed her to understand the “American spirit of courage and collectivism,” very different from the common perception of American culture as purely individualist.

(left to right) Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan, Zainab Riaz from Pakistan & Rebeca Adami from Sweden

(left to right) Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan, Zainab Riaz from Pakistan & Rebeca Adami from Sweden

(left to right) Megan Davies Wykes from the United Kingdom and Martin Loucka from the Czech Republic

(left to right) Megan Davies Wykes from the United Kingdom and Martin Loucka from the Czech Republic

Asli Ozyar Mizrahi from Turkey

Asli Ozyar Mizrahi from Turkey