The universal connections of music and Fulbright

The universal connections of music and Fulbright

In my never-ending pursuit of becoming the best musician, I can possibly be, Fulbright, aided me in successfully taking my next step. In the last couple of months, I have become friends with people from all over the world, including the U.S., Korea, New-Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Trinidad, and Tobago and Paraguay. People in and out of the music field, searching for knowledge, personal growth, global connection, and fulfillment. As much as I had to fight to get to this point in my life, it is nothing in comparison to the amount of purpose and fulfillment I currently feel. Yet, with the current health crisis, the collapsing economy and the uncertain future that a lot of us – and in particular fellow musicians – face, I want to zoom in on the one thing that has connected us all. The love for doing what we do and the urge to collaborate, in whatever way we can, is something […]

Be open and tolerant, so that you can learn and teach

The Fulbright program is not only about what you will have accomplished at the end of the year. Rather than a goal, the Fulbright program is a process. As a Fulbrighter, you will be equipped for studying abroad: a Pre-departure Orientation in Brussels and a Gateway Orientation once arrived in the United States will prepare you for your time here. Your Fulbright mission starts at that moment.

A frame, a mirror, and a canvas: Thoughts on New York

Every city in the world can be described by one of these three metaphors: a frame, a mirror, or a canvas. Rome, a perfect mirror, is a place where nobody comes as a stranger. Layers and layers of history laid upon each other produce a strange genealogy of time. There is always a piece of you in Rome to be discovered. You have been there already in distant reflections of a mirror-city.

Women and War in Belgium

Gabrielle Petit stares defiantly into the distance, under gray skies in Brussels. Almost every morning, I walk beneath Petit’s stern gaze on my way to the archives, thinking about her last moments and about the long history of women and warfare. Gabrielle Petit was a Belgian woman who became swept up in the chaos of the First World War (1914-1918), after Germans overran Belgium in August 1914 and occupied the country. Petit fled as a refugee but then returned to Belgium as a spy for the British Army, gathering information on German military dispositions across Belgium beginning in August 1915. German soldiers soon became suspicious of Petit’s movements in occupied Belgium and arrested her for spying in February 1916. A German military court tried her for military espionage and condemned her to death. Gabrielle Petit allegedly say: “I will show you how a Belgian woman dies,” before being executed by firing squad on 1 April 1916. The bronze statue commemorating […]

A reflection on racism with Mary Wilson

Throughout my time in Belgium, I have recognized how differently Belgians see and perceive issues of diversity compared to Americans. In the United States, we are confronted with our race more often than Europeans, sometimes subtly with racial identification, such as on a form or survey, or through bolder individual acts where our background is questioned. In Belgium, improving diversity means looking at disparities in class and language, but the issue of race is often overlooked. It has been incredible to be a part of Fulbright’s commitment to inclusion across race, gender, age, religion and identity. The Fulbright Belgium Commission has been very proactive in seeking events to continue conversations about this topic, including the special opportunity to discuss the intersection of the American civil rights movement and Motown with Mary Wilson of the Supremes at European Parliament. After a meeting a week prior with the Fulbright diversity initiative, founded by Sangeetha Ramakrishna and Rianne Delacruz, I was eager to […]

Which Language for Local Food in Wallonie?

I just returned to my dissertation fieldwork site after 38 years thanks to a Fulbright Scholar’s Grant.  Back in the 1980s I examined the use of the regional Gallo-Romance dialect, Walloon, in Liège, Belgium and particularly in the puppet theater.  Over the past couple decades I’ve gotten increasingly interested in how people resist the global industrial food system. Upon arriving at the Liège train station last week, my interest was piqued by the poster announcing a show of local alimentary products called CBon, CWallon (http://www.cbon-cwallon.be). It took a minute to understand that they were not using aberrant initial consonant clusters, but the practice of using a letter (or number) to stand in for the name of that letter, like the francophone usage of K7 for “cassette.” I went to the C’est Bon, C’est Wallon Fair today, wondering whether the Walloon language would appear as well as the products of Wallonie. One of the first booths I saw was a beer […]

Decently Athletic…Definitely Not a Runner

That’s how I usually describe myself. That’s how I described myself when I first got to Luxembourg, sitting on Ingrid’s balcony, chatting with the other ETAs about our college experiences. Alexis played tennis. Ev started a running club. I was on the Bates club sailing and equestrian teams. As I said, I’m decently athletic, but definitely not a runner. And then I found the 10K. On my original application to be a Fulbright ETA, I wrote that one way that I wanted to engage with the community was through athletics. This race, I figured, would be a great way to connect with other runners both in our Fulbright cohort and with other people I had recently met at the University of Luxembourg through Erasmus. No, I had never been in a running club before. And no, I was not in any way trained to legitimately run races, but I was going to do the Agora Red Rocks Challenge. As it […]

How a biochemist in Belgium found community through music

In high school I was definitely a band kid. I played in every musical group available to me, and my world revolved around music.  The sense of belonging and community I felt as a member of a musical ensemble was unparalleled. This was why I kept playing in college, even as I decided to pursue a career in biotechnology research. When I applied for my Fulbright grant, I proposed that I would join a local orchestra to foster the same sense of belonging with my Belgian neighbors. When I arrived in Gent, I began researching different community groups. I found the Gent University Harmonic Orchestra (GUHO), a student-run,100-piece wind-instrument orchestra. I filled out an online questionnaire, and I was invited to audition. When I arrived, I played a short audition piece and was invited to stay for the rehearsal. During this first rehearsal, I was surprised how mentally exhausting it was for me to keep up with the directions and […]

In Flanders Fields

This past Monday was Armistice Day, which commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of WWI and Germany on November 11th 1918. In Belgium, Armistice Day is a national holiday, which meant that schools and many businesses were closed. Since I didn’t have to teach, I decided to take a train to Ypres (also spelled Ieper, in Dutch), which was the center of the Battle of Ieper during World War One. Today, it is known as “the city of peace.” I’d never been to Ypres before, so I woke up early, packed my backpack with warm-weather gear, tea, a knitting project, and an umbrella, and went to Gare du Nord (the nearest train station) to take the 7:37 train. I transferred trains in Kortrijk, and in total, the trip took about two hours.  Upon my arrival, I basically just followed the crowd out of the train station, since I assumed that nearly everyone was also in Ypres for Armistice Day […]

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