This past Friday afternoon, I returned to the Commission’s office to join a round-table discussion about the Fulbright program that included Ambassador Hans Klemm and Mala Adiga, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs. Most of the hour was spent with four grantees (two current Americans including me and two Romanian alums) talking about their Fulbright experiences.
I talked about my first month here in Bucharest as well as my previous grant to Kosova and the challenges faced by American Fulbrighters. More importantly, I addressed the long-term rewards of participating in this program, not just for me (or any Fulbrighter) but for our students and colleagues here and back home in the U.S. as well as our friends and families. It’s quite difficult to summarize in a handful of minutes what, for most of us, is a life-changing experience.
I was struck by Mala’s friendliness and enthusiasm and was delighted to learn that she was headed next to Kosova. Her interest in and appreciation for the program was evident throughout, and I wish we had had more time to spend together. As fate would have it, her job with State will end in a few months as the new president makes her own high-profile appointees.
Now in his second year in Romania, Ambassador Klemm focused more on tangibles and logistics, particularly how to increase numbers of grantees, the accessibility of opportunities, and diversity among participants. He noted that the Gilman International Scholarship assists students with Pell Grants to travel overseas. (This could be the ticket for several of my Sam Houston students, who are so desirous of seeing the world!)
Overall, the afternoon was pleasant and productive and a very satisfying way for me to end a busy fourth week in Romania.