Last Thursday the Fulbright Commission welcomed twenty-three 2017-2018 American Fulbright grantees to Belgium and Luxembourg to the Royal Library for U.S. Grantee Orientation.
As part of their orientation, grantees received a briefing on Grantee Rights and Responsibilities from the staff of the Fulbright Commission here in Brussels and learned about research and outreach opportunities available at the U.S. Embassy to Belgium, the Fulbright Commission, and the Royal Library’s Center for American Studies. The second half of the morning provided grantees with a cultural introduction to life in Belgium and Luxembourg. They discussed everything from opening bank accounts and finding housing to tackling cultural differences in the classroom and workplace.
The twenty-three attendees at this year’s U.S. Grantee Orientation included twelve study and research grantees to Belgium and Luxembourg, ten English Teaching Assistants to Belgium and Luxembourg, and a Brussels-based Fulbright-Schuman student researcher. The Fulbright Commission will welcome three additional researchers to Belgium in January at the start of the spring semester for a total of eighteen grantees to Belgium and seven grantees to Luxembourg in the 2017-2018 academic year. The group of twenty-five includes two returning Fulbrighters whose 2016-2017 grants were extended for the current academic year. This year’s grantees hail from all over the United States and flew to Belgium from as far away as Oregon and Hawaii!
Over lunch on the top floor of the Musical Instruments Museum, grantees enjoyed panoramic views of Brussels and listened to remarks by Dr. Jerome Sheridan. A Professor of International Relations and the Director of the American University Brussels campus, Dr. Sheridan spoke to grantees about the history of Belgium and the country’s contemporary political situation.
In the afternoon, grantees took a walking tour of Brussels and visited several of the city’s most popular sights, including the Place Royale, the Grand Place, and — of course — Manneken Pis. In addition to providing important information about their grants, U.S. Grantee Orientation also gives grantees an introduction to the city of Brussels! While several grantees will remain in Brussels throughout their grant period, the majority of U.S. grantees to Belgium are based outside of the capital in Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Leuven, and Louvain-la-Neuve.
The walking tour came to a fitting conclusion at Cantillon Brewery. Here, grantees took a trip back in time as they learned about the history of beer and the traditional brewing methods employed by this historic family-owned brewery. After a long day in an atypically tropical Brussels, everyone was happy to learn that Cantillon ends their guided tours with a tasting!
The staff of the Fulbright Commission was delighted to finally meet the grantees with whom we have been communicating for the past several months. We wish them all a successful first week in Belgium and Luxembourg and look forward to sharing their adventures. The Commission would also like to thank its colleagues at the U.S. Embassy to Belgium, the U.S. Embassy to Luxembourg, and the U.S. Mission to the European Union for their participation in orientation events and their continued support of the American Fulbrighters.
More photos can be found on our Flickr photo stream.