November 8: Boston area Fulbright Scholars and their family members discovered New England history on a tour of Salem, Massachusetts. Through visits to local museums scholars gained a deeper appreciation of New England history, maritime traditions and the colonial origins of Halloween.
The tour began with a visit to House of the Seven Gables.The house, built in 1668 by sea captain and merchant, John Turner, was made famous through American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel, The House of the Seven Gables. Scholars enjoyed a guided tour of the gardens, house and many of its secret passageways.
Visiting Scholars at the House of the Seven Gables.
Next, scholars walked to Pickering Wharf, a historic seaside area, where they shopped, ate lunch, and explored nearby attractions. Several Scholars visited the U.S.S. Friendship, a reproduction of a 1797 trading ship.
Scholars explore Pickering Wharf.
Scholars then visited the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States. Scholars freely explored the museum’s collections of art from around the world and even had a chance to make some jewelry.
Fulbright family members proudly display their handmade jewelry.
The day ended with a visit to the Salem Witch Museum, which introduced Scholars to the tragic events of the 17th century Salem witch trials. The museum also included an overview of the evolving concept of witches throughout history.
Waiting outside the Salem Witch Museum.
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) Tore Bjorgo from Norway, Amakai Kefas from the United Kingdom and Asli Ozyar from Turkey.
February 19: Visiting Fulbright scholars in Los Angeles enjoyed an evening of food, music, and dance held in their honor at UCLA. The event continues a 40 year tradition started by Anne Bodenheimer, the former Los Angeles Fulbright Enrichment Coordintor for 29 years.
The highlights of the evening included performances and addresses by two Fulbright Scholars. Hungarian scholar and pianist Tunde Kraznai performed pieces by classical Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Indian Scholar and dancer, Swarnamalya Ganesh, demonstrated Bharatantyam dance, one of the oldest forms of South Indian classical dance.
Support for the dinner was generously provided by the UCLA Affiliates Network.
Tunde Krazai, Hungary, performs Rachmaninoff.
Swarnamalya Ganesh, India, performs the Dance of Shiva.
October 19: Boston-area Fulbright Visiting Scholars and their family members spent a day taking in the New England fall colors at a nearby nature sanctuary and festival.
Scholars began the day at the Audobon Society’s “Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary,” a former farmstead surrounded by woodlands, wetlands and meadows. Naturalists led the group on a tour of the farmstead and surrounding nature, where they had the chance to see a giant boulder deposited by an ancient glacier. Children had a chance to feed the farm’s sheep and enjoyed running in the fields and playing with the milkweed fluff that blowed around them.
Scholars see an ancient glacial rock at the Audobon Sanctuary.
Walking the trails at the Audobon Sanctuary.
Next Scholars went to the Wachusett Mountain Applefest where they enjoyed food, rides, games, shopping and performances. They ended the trip with a Skyride lift to the mountain summit where, surrounded by fall colors, they enjoyed a clear view all the way to Boston and New Hampshire.
View of New Hampshire mountains from the Skyride.
February 8: Scholars danced and sang to upbeat gospel music as part of a Sunday morning service at First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church of Los Angeles. The church is the oldest African-American founded church in Los Angeles. Started in 1872 as a small congregation by Ms. Biddy Mason, a California entrepenuer, philanthropist and former slave, the church now has over 19,000 members.
The church’s pastor, Rev. J. Edgar Boyd warmly welcomed Scholars to the worship service.The service included dance performances, gospel singing and a powerful sermon from Rev. Boyd.
After the service, FAME graciously hosted scholars for lunch, which gave Scholars the chance to interact with the community. Scholars learned from the church’s youth about what Black History Month meant to them in a discussion following the lunch. Overall, the visit allowed scholars to experience unique aspects of African-American religion and culture and understand the significance of Black History Month.
Members of FAME Church perform a cultural dance.
Rev. Boyd warmly welcomes Fulbright Scholars.
Fulbright Scholars take part in the service with FAME community.
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) Megan Davies Wykes from the United Kingdom and Martin Loucka from the Czech Republic
Asli Ozyar Mizrahi from Turkey
December 18: Fulbright Scholars in New York enjoyed a tour and performance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where they learned about the intersections between African-American history, modern dance and social activism. Founded in 1958 by African-American choreographer, Alvin Ailey, the company was one of the first racially integrated modern dance repertory companies in the United States. Scholars toured the Alvin Ailey School where an impressive 90-100 dance classes are offered every single day.
Scholars enjoy a tour of the Alvin Ailey School
At the end of the tour scholars attended a private talk with professional dancer, Slim Mello, who originally came to New York from Brazil through Ailey’s scholarship program. He shared his personal story of how the Alvin Ailey School impacted his life, which was met by applause from Scholars.
Farida Ryskulueva from Kyrgyzstan with dancer Slim Mello.
After the tour Scholars saw performances of three dance pieces: Memoria, Odetta, and Revelations. The premiere piece, Odetta, celebrates the life of singer and civil rights activist, Odetta Holmes. Revelations, Ailey’s most famous piece has been performed more times than the Nutcracker.
A scene from Odetta.
Scholars remarked on how much they enjoyed the performance, which was enriched by understanding the Company’s history and significance. Scholars understood, through this experience, why Congress has called Alvin Ailey “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world.”
(left to right) Asli Ozyar from Turkey and Zainab Riaz and Nadhra Khan from Pakistan.