February 20, 2014: This was an introduction to Gallaudet University for the Visiting Fulbright Scholars. Despite the fact that this is a world-renowned institution, none of them even knew it existed. Upon our arrival, the group received a warm welcome from Charles Reilly, Executive Director of the Office of Research Support and International Affairs and learned about the concept of DeafSpace as pioneered by Gallaudet and applied to its campus design. The group then took a tour of the campus focusing on the history and culture of Gallaudet as a one-of-a-kind institution, and then learned of the newest developments in the area of visual language and learning. All of these meetings were accompanied by two excellent American Sign Language interpreters.
February 15, 2014: Fulbright Scholars and their families were led by a Chinatown native and an SF City Guide on a historic and cultural walking tour of Chinatown. The tour began in Portsmouth Square, the “community gathering spot” for Chinatown and from there was led through side streets and alley ways of this most densely populated section of the City. After the 2 hour tour the group went to the Far East Café for a Chinese “Family” Banquet. After the banquet, the group had the opportunity to enjoy shopping in Chinatown and they day concluded with attending the longest Chinese New Year’s Parade in the USA.
February 12, 2014: Fulbright scholars and their families were invited to attend a Brooklyn Nets basketball game at the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, to watch the home team take on the Charlotte Bobcats. As always in American sporting events, the game opened with the National Anthem which, on this particular evening, was performed by the Greater Central New Jersey Community Choir who sang a truly soulful rendition of the classic tune, giving scholars a small peak into the gospel tradition. Lifelong Nets fan & basketball expert, Christopher Hayes, was invited to join the scholars during the game. He proved to be an especially helpful addition to the group as he was able to answer a wide array of questions, including when it’s appropriate to yell “defense!”
February 9, 2014: In honor of Black History month, scholars visited the First African American Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church for a Sunday service followed by a meeting with the church leaders to learn about the history of the church. Following the meeting, the group joined the FAME Preparation Teen Church to meet with their teen-age members for a discussion where scholars introduced themselves and talked about their countries and lives in their home countries, as well as their work and impressions of the U.S. This was a wonderful chance to learn about a special part of American life. African American churches have a long tradition of “soul” music and the FAME church has a renowned gospel choir like the one that performed at the Obama presidential inauguration.
January 18 & 20, 2014: Scholars and families attended the 26th Annual Joyful Noise Concert by the Harlem Gospel Choir. This wonderful concert was accessible for all ages and showed an exciting and unique part of American culture. Participants received a fun exposure to gospel music and also included a number of renditions of songs by American music legend Stevie Wonder. The rousing performance by the Harlem Gospel Choir encouraged many of our program’s participants, and many audience members, to dance in the aisles and fully enjoy themselves. The choir’s tradition of touring the world and introducing gospel music to new cultures made it a perfect fit to acquaint our visiting scholars with Martin Luther King Day.
“Many Helping Hands” was an afternoon service project held in Cambridge, MA to benefit needy people in Cambridge. There was a children’s chorus, a speech about Martin Luther King, Jr, and other presentations to kick-off the afternoon after which the FVS went across the street to the Cambridge Senior Center where they were welcomed and given a brief description of the volunteer opportunities. These ranged from making Valentines, stuffing care bags, and creating scarves and blankets.
Saturday, January 11, 2014: This event brought Visiting Fulbright Scholars together with three very knowledgeable “home chefs” to learn about the historical origins of some classic American dishes, ingredients native to various U.S. regions, and current trends in American Cuisine. Scholars received cookbooks containing the recipes prepared and measuring cups so that they can make these dishes for their friends and family members when they return home.