In 1948, the first academic exchanges between the United States and Belgium and Luxembourg under the auspices of the Fulbright Program occurred, and in 2018 the Fulbright Commission in Brussels recognizes 70 years of continued successful exchanges. As part of the celebrations, the Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States, Belgium, and Luxembourg is highlighting the stories of alumni from the past 70 years, emphasizing that it is the people who make Fulbright what it is. The stories of American, Belgian, and Luxembourgish grantees showcase how the interpersonal connections Fulbright fosters create transformative experiences for the grantees, leaving a lasting impression on their lives, both professional and personal, and how they continue to impact their wider communities. These stories also illustrate how Fulbright itself has evolved over the decades, adding programs and adjusting as travel, technology, and education shifted on both sides of the Atlantic.
As the anniversary year progresses, we’re asking you to join us in meeting our interviewees. Fulbright involves nearly every conceivable discipline in the arts and humanities, commerce and finance, science and technology, education, journalism, media, and government. Our alumni have come from all over the US, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and they have studied in places as disparate as Austin, Texas, Brugge, Luxembourg City, Berkeley, California, Namur, and even Lamoni, Iowa. They traveled by boats, planes, trains, buses, and cars, saw sights from the Grand Canyon to 13th century convents, and witnessed monumental events from segregation to the fall of the Berlin Wall. They’ve made lifelong friends and remade their careers. They’ve all been transformed by their experiences, and now they will share them personally with you.
We’ve collected all these adventures in an oral history project. Historian Dr. Jane Judge has interviewed dozens of alumni, recording their stories and cataloging their memorabilia to understand and document their stories in more detail. The interviews were conducted within the rigours of oral history practice, giving alumni the freedom to tell their stories how they chose, accentuating the parts of their experience they have found most powerful, memorable, and fun. Ultimately, the Commission hopes to publish the collection of accounts by the end of the year. In the meantime, each month, we’ll share our interviews with an alum or two, taking you through this history of the program as we go.
Check back here for updates as we add more Fellows throughout the year! And be sure to subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube accounts so that you never miss a new story!