May 31, 2014: On one of the most beautiful days of the year, the group set out on a bus from Washington, DC to Annapolis, MD. There they met Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff who took them out on a day-long trip on a 112-year-old skipjack. Lunch was held at an old waterman’s hangout, where guests set the sails, dredged for oysters, talked about the history of the local waterman’s culture, and the current environmental challenges of the Chesapeake Bay.
May 17, 2014: Scholars and their families took a three-hour sail down the Hudson River aboard the Clearwater, a replica of a traditional Dutch sloop that was common during the 18th and 19th centuries. During the trip, scholars had the opportunity to work with the crew to raise and lower the sails and navigate the boat on the water. Scholars explored the sleeping, living, and cooking quarters below decks and heard stories of life aboard the vessel. The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a non-profit organization that has been at the forefront of environmental efforts to clean the heavily polluted river, set up stations aboard the boat to teach the scholars about the river’s relationship to NYC, its role in supporting local ecosystems, and the environmental issues it faces.
On the tour, scholars and their families learned that the fort at West Point was built during the Revolutionary War by George Washington because of its strategic location on the narrowest point on the Hudson River. The West Point motto of “Duty, Honor, and Country” was truly reflected in the architecture, design and monuments throughout the campus of the USMA and our tour helped to situate this revered establishment within the context of U.S. history.
May 12, 2014: The Huntington Library, besides having one of the world’s finest collection of rare books, has a new science wing closely allied with Caltech which is five minutes away. The Fulbright group was treated to a tour by the curator of the restoration room, printing labs and visiting scholar library by the curator. The group then focused on the rare book exhibition where we saw an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Chaucer volumes, the Book of Hours, on up to Lincoln letters and the Federalist Papers. It was exciting to see the new science wing of the Library. From the Library, the group went to the Caltech Athenaeum for lunch hosted by Astrophysics Professor George Helou and then heard him give a riveting lecture about exploration of outer space with infra-red photography.
May 10, 2014: This event took the scholars out into the country to see three farms that are representative of U.S. farming today. Scholars visited two dairy farms – close in location but worlds apart in their modes of operation. One was an organic farm operated by a father and son representing five generations of family farmers who have worked this land. The cows roam freely and the father and son team are passionately committed to the idea of farming “the old-fashioned way.” Over the years they have tapped into a growing organic niche in the US market.
The other dairy farm was much larger in scale, and used a more conventional approach to farming. Using a carefully calculated mixture of purchased grains and grasses produced on the farm, the cows are kept mainly indoors in a controlled environment. They are bred and cared for using techniques that maximize milk production. This is also a successful family operation that goes back many generations and today targets a different segment of the US dairy market.
Finally, we visited a large orchard, again run by a family who had also been farming their land for generations. The 80-year-old patriarch instructed his son to drive us through the property on a hay wagon while he played the harmonica and his wife served us fresh cider and cookies – all to the great enjoyment of the Fulbrighters. All the visits represented a significant departure from the city lives that these Fulbrighters were accustomed to seeing. They saw some of the diverse lifestyles that exist within a short distance of Washington.
May 2, 2014: Fulbright scholars and their guests convened outside Central Park for a 3 hour guided tour by noted social and architectural historian Justin Ferate. From the 1916 Fabbri mansion to Central Park’s blossoming Conservatory Gardens, the tour brought scholars one step closer to the elegant tastes of New York’s historical elite.
April 30, 2014 (Standford University): Scholars gathered at Stanford University where Candace Thille, Director, Open Learning initiative, discussed the state of the art in online learning, how people learn digitally and how to adapt the design of online courses. Lunch was followed by a tour of the Main Quad and Memorial Church at Stanford then on to afternoon meeting at the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD). SCPD has been offering online advanced degrees in the School of Engineering since 1997.
April 26, 2014: Prior to the baseball game, scholars met with Michael Gibbons, Executive Director of the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore, who explained the rules, history, and cultural context of baseball in the US. After lunch, the group walked to Nationals stadium where they were thrilled to see the Nationals claim a 3-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.