The following post is written by Humberto Madeira, a Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Brazil. Humberto was one of the scholars who attended the highly-praised Seminar in Reno, Nevada in early November. Many thanks to Humberto for his willingness to share his own experience and many thanks to Eileen Grench of NNIC for coordinating such a successful event.
“I was privileged to attend the Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Reno, Nevada, along with other 75 Fulbright scholars. “U. S. Elections in Battleground State: Observing Democracy in Action” was the theme of the four-day seminar (Oct. 31 – Nov. 3) which was truly an immersion into the American democracy. We were able to experience a few of the last days of electoral campaign in Washoe County. Activities ranging from a discussion panel with candidates and current members of the Reno City Council to a visit to a local reservation to have a grasp on the tribal government of Native Americans provided us an unforgettable experience. The contact with candidates for various local and state offices, as well as people directly involved in grassroots movements, gave me a valuable insight into the nuts and bolts of campaigning. It also allowed me to fully appreciate the commitment of common people to the political process, driven by the will to accomplish something good for the community. Without the risk of sounding corny, a strong bond was made among many of the scholars and organizers as a result of an almost magical atmosphere we experienced. The interactions we continue to have in a Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/renofulbrightseminar/) and the e-mails we have been exchanging since are a testimony of that. The perfect organization, the diversity and multinationality of the people attending, and why not, the concentration of bright minds all contributed to the great success of the event.”