April 19, 2014: For Fulbright scholars who sometimes find themselves surrounded by concrete more than they are used to, a day at the Lenape Village provided a great way to get away from NYC. Winakung, meaning “Place of Sassafras” in the Lenape language, is a re-created Lenape Indian Village, where scholars enjoyed the opportunity to get closer to nature, in much the same way that the original inhabitants did thousands of years ago.
April 13 – 16, 2014: Lousiville, KY World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana
Mayor Greg Fischer has made supporting Louisville’s compassionate community one of the three major goals for his first term as mayor. He has stated that “being a compassionate city is both the right thing and the necessary thing to do to ensure that we take care of all of our citizens.” As a former entrepreneur known for his business savvy, the choice to put compassion on the same level as innovation and job growth may seem surprising at first.
Throughout the seminar, Mayor Fischer, speakers and community leaders addressed the scholars to discuss the importance of nurturing a compassionate community, how Louisville is challenging citizens and government alike to commit to this cause, and the benefits as well as difficulties in doing so.
April 12, 2014: The visit with Friends of the Los Angeles River provided much insight on the environmental issues Los Angeles faces, especially drought, water resource management and recreational facilities. The scholars walked along a portion of the river and listened to a water specialist discussing the accomplishments so far and future plans and challenges. Scholars benefitted by learning what is being done to protect and restore the natural and historical heritage of the Los Angeles River.
March 27, 2014: The scholars and their family members began the evening with a meal and had a chance to mingle with old friends, meet new friends, and generally enjoy a relaxing time before heading to the concert venue. The concert was performed by international students who attend Berklee College of Music. Their performances showcased music from their home countries, as well as other international music. The quality and professionalism of the performers was outstanding. The last performers were a trio of professional Mexican musicians (Los Rumberos de Boston) who played lively music causing the entire concert hall to be filled with dancing students, Fulbright Scholars and more!
March 19 – March 22, 2014: The University of Texas at Austin
Austin ranks among the top cities for business start-ups, long-term job market growth and education. On the frontline of a new wave of businesspersons, many attribute social entrepreneurship as a key component for Austin’s success. While in Austin, Fulbright Scholars from all disciplines had the opportunity to meet with business entrepreneurs as well as faculty and students from the University of Texas at Austin to explore the seminar theme of Social Entrepreneurship.
March 21, 2014: The evening opened with a leisurely stroll around Glen Echo Park with American Fulbright Scholar Robert J. Mathis. Mr. Mathis told the group about the Park’s long history (playing a role in the local struggle for civil rights in the 1960s) and how it evolved to become an artist colony and sought-after destination for social dancers on the East Coast. He also explained how American contra dancing started several hundred years ago as a way to introduce newcomers to a community and continues to have a vibrant following today. The group them moved on to a dance lesson and after were welcomed by the crowd of over 200 enthusiastic contra dancers and guided through the steps with great fun and goodwill.
March 16, 2014: Fulbright scholars met at the Times Square Visitor’s Center to begin the day’s program with a tour of the Broadway theater district, led by a professional theater actress. The tour itself was a combination of interviews, theater music, and historical narratives played through the headsets as well as the guide’s comments regarding local architecture and history and her personal accounts of working in the theater industry. Among the sights the Fulbright group visited were the famous Iridium Jazz Club, as well as the Brill building, where some of America’s biggest musical hits were produced, and the Winter Garden Theatre, where popular Broadway musicals like Cats and Mamma Mia! played for decades. As part of the historical overview, scholars also learned that Broadway began during World War I, during which migrants from Europe brought their musical theater traditions across the ocean.
The tour was followed by a Gospel Brunch at the world-famous B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, located in Times Square. Scholars eagerly took this opportunity to relax, socialize, and taste a large selection of authentic southern soul food. The interactive Gospel performance engaged the audience in cheering, dancing, and clapping along, regardless of faith. For many of the scholars like Daniel Reitzer, who noted that his home country, Slovakia, did not have Gospel music, the performance was a cultural eye-opener helping them to “get to know American culture.” The final highlight of the show occurred when one of the scholars’ five year old daughter took the stage upon invitation from the host, and left with not only a unique experience but a stuffed elephant, given as a gift for her participation. For many scholars, the gospel brunch was their favorite part of the event, since it provided a “first-hand experience of religious and musical life” in America, a comment left by Sean Lei from Taiwan.