U.S. Fulbright Applicant
Community and Affiliation
The Day of the Ancientsby Roman Yavich, 2006-2007, Nicaragua
We are born, we grow up, we work, we raise kids, we work more, and then we grow old. If we are lucky, we are born in a place with opportunities, where we can grow up safely, find work, raise healthy educated children, and retire to enjoy our golden years. In many places around the world, however, people are not so lucky. In Nicaragua, for the majority of the population, few opportunities exist. Safety, work, education and healthcare are not taken for granted, and very few people have the luxury to retire. The first thing that visitors to Nicaragua notice is the extreme poverty. Entire neighborhoods are living without electricity or running water. Houses exist without floors and are made entirely of roof zinc. Children walk around barefoot. The next thing that most visitors notice is how friendly, happy, and welcoming Nicaraguans are. This disconnect between a lack of basic necessities, and the quality of life is a complete shock to most tourists.
After living here for four months, I have found that the key to being happy with almost no financial resources is human resources. Said in a less confusing manner, it is the people around you: your family, your friends, and your community.
In San Juan del Sur, a fishing village/tourism bonanza town in the southwestern part of Nicaragua, many people are related. If not, they still call each other tía (aunt), primo (cousin), or even hermano (brother), because even though they are not related, they feel as though they are.
Children rarely move out of the house until they are married, and even then they build an extra room rather than leave. Neighbors don’t just wave to each other out of the window of their cars, as in the suburban United States, they sit with each other for hours, rocking back and forth on wooden rockers, exchanging rumors and telling jokes. Here, I learned the true sense of the word “community.” Becoming a part of this community has been an incredible experience.
One of the highlights has been volunteering with the A. Jean Brugger Foundation which, with the support of Pelican Eyes, the largest hotel in San Juan del Sur, organizes community building events, among other activities. One such event is the Día de los Ancianos, (translated literally as the Day of the Ancients) which brings together most of the elderly in town for lunch and activities (usually bingo) once a month. Seeing the life, joy, and wisdom in a room of 200 Nicaraguan grandpas and grandmas was overwhelming. Seeing them beat a piñata was even better. All of the people in the room were living with their families (there are no nursing homes in Nicaragua), almost all of them knew each other, and, in my opinion, all of them were having a better time than their counterparts in the richest country in the world.
Studying sustainable tourism here, I can’t help but be proud of Hotel Pelican Eyes Piedras y Olas for having started and continually supporting the A. Jean Brugger Foundation. Contributing to cultural and community preservation in a place literally exploding with tourism is a noble feat. By having the opportunity to research tourism development here on a Fulbright grant, I also had the chance to realize that by having a close relationship with those around you, you do not pass from one phase in life to another and then grow old. You just live.
Establishing a Host Affiliationby Jermaine Jones, Program Manager, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
Applicants must carefully read the criteria for host affiliation requirements in the summary for the country to which they are applying. Countries differ in the kinds of host affiliations that are acceptable. Depending upon the country, the host affiliation can be an academic institution, a research institute, a non-profit organization and/or individuals at any one of these or other types of relevant agencies. In some cases, particularly in the arts, the affiliation may be a person such as a writer, musician, or artist or an arts organization or foundation. Applicants should pay special attention to the requirement in some countries to attend/affiliate with an academic institution.
Identifying a Potential Host
countries will obtain affiliation for the
Fulbrighters, while others leave the
responsibility for securing host affiliation
entirely up to the grantee. Others will work
somewhere in between, expecting the grantee to
identify a host affiliation and make initial
contact, but will then help to formalize the
affiliation after the grant is awarded. Make sure
you know what is expected of you as an applicant
by reviewing the country summary carefully.
Letters of Support
most competitive candidates will include
documentation of contacts with potential host
affiliations with the application. This could be
of a letter of invitation from the host
research support or allowing access to facilities
to the applicant; or, it could be a letter
indicating that the admitting institution provides
courses in the applicant's areas of study. IIE
refers to these letters synonymously as: letters
of support, letters of affiliation, letters of
invitation and/or letters of admission.
If your plan is to complete a
Master's or other degree or to attend a
structured degree program, make sure that you
apply for admission to the host university by
their deadline. Do not wait for the Fulbright
decision to come through or you may be too late in
gaining admission into your chosen university.
Video Focus: Alex Hurd, Fulbright Binational Business Program - Mexico, 2002