Each year the Fulbright Program offers U.S. Fulbright Students in Europe opportunities to attend professional development and enrichment opportunities through gatherings like the EU-NATO Seminar in Belgium and Luxembourg and Fulbright Germany’s Berlin Seminar. These meetings allow Fulbright grantees, alumni, and guests to engage in intercultural and cross-disciplinary dialogue. More recently, Fulbright Bulgaria, in collaboration with The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, offered a timely conference on media literacy. This year, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Berlin Seminar was canceled.
EU–NATO Seminar, Belgium and Luxembourg
Highlights of the annual seminar included visits to the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, the U.S. Mission to the EU, and NATO Headquarters.
The EU–NATO Seminar (February 4–8, 2020) is an annual event hosted by the Fulbright Commission in Belgium and Luxembourg. The four-day seminar, which takes place in Luxembourg City and Brussels, focuses on the European Union and NATO and provides for cultural enrichment and networking among Fulbrighters across Europe. Each year, the Fulbright Commission in Brussels invites other Fulbright offices within the EU to nominate American grantees to travel to Belgium and Luxembourg for the four-day seminar, where approximately 45 participants learn about the structure and function of European institutions and NATO and how these institutions affect their academic, professional, and personal lives.
Fulbright Greece nominated U.S. students Maria Beaulieu (Economics), Ellen Furgis (Human Development and Environmental Science), and Ethan Marcus (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics), all of whom attended the seminar and benefited from the exchange.
For many participants, the most memorable aspect of the seminar is the unique opportunity to engage with fellow Fulbrighters from a variety of academic backgrounds and grant placements across Europe.
At the end of the week, the participants emerge with not only a better understanding of the role and importance of the European Union and NATO, but also with a greater appreciation for the scope of the Fulbright Program and the work of their fellow scholars.
Here is what participants had to say:
Ellen Furgis commented, Overall, I left the conference feeling so energized! It was such an incredible concentration of smart young people, and I enjoyed befriending people and hearing about their experiences in their host countries. Additionally, Fulbright Belgium conference organizers (Erica and Elisabeth) did an incredible job, and they were fun people to talk to and learn from!
Maria Beaulieu stated, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans gave a speech about how science is important for discovery, yet there may come times when calculations fail and basic reasoning skills are needed to complete the task. I talked with Ambassador Evans individually during the reception, and he said that if we knew 60 years ago what we know today, we would have never been allowed to land on the moon. He said, ‘Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith.’ This is exactly what I’ve done by coming on my Fulbright journey to Greece.
Fulbright Bulgaria organized the Second Media Literacy Conference in Sofia (November 7–10, 2019).
The topics covered teaching media literacy, potential responses to misinformation, outsmarting trolls, and using technology to develop autonomous learning, among many others. The keynote speech was given by Dean Starkman, Fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society, with the title Structural Challenges to Public Interest Journalism.
The full cohort of the 2019–2020 Fulbright/HAEF–Athens College Teaching Fellows were given the opportunity to participate in this conference through support by The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State. Media literacy in the classroom, a top priority for the ECA, brought together English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and former Yugoslav countries to work with Newseum and other experts on introducing media literacy activities into classrooms. Students had the chance to network with fellow ETAs from the region, exchange best practices, and most importantly, gain exposure to evaluating news and media and how to implement these skills in the classroom. Among the guest speakers was 2019–2020 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Greece, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Dr. Russell Frank, Associate Professor of Communications at Pennsylvania State–University Park, who delivered an inspiring presentation on Fake News.