Almost halfway through her journey, Nan McEntire is going strong on her “Ride for Fulbright“. After completing over 1320 miles, Nan is currently in Kansas and making her way through the Midwest.
Nan’s route across America
Officially departing on May 12th, the first mission of Nan’s journey was making it through California. She enjoyed seeing a traditional dipping wheel in the Pacific Ocean on Manhattan Beach, and struggled through a gale of strong winds in Palm Springs. “The wind was constant at about 30 miles per hour,” she reports. “I don’t weigh that much, and I about got blown off the bike!” Nan stayed resolute and made it through.
Nan is riding to raise awareness and donations for the Fulbright Association, and what better way to keep true to her mission than by meeting Fulbrighters along the way? In Los Angeles, Nan was able to meet with Greater LA Chapter Vice President Jalal Awan, who treated her to dinner and presented her with a bouquet of flowers for good luck. (Nan hopes to meet Jalal’s sister as well when she gets to Kansas!) In Arizona, she met Fulbrighters Rick Szal and Nancy Currey, board leaders from the local Chapter. Nan has been grateful from the warm hospitality she has received from the Fulbright community. The opportunity to talk about Fulbright, travel, international issues, as well as share stories, breaks up the long journey and keeps her goal front and center. A Chapter president herself, the bike ride is an exciting, if unusual, chance to network with other local associations!
The Fulbright Association is so grateful for Nan’s “Ride for Fulbright” and all the support we have received so far. Fulbrighters from all corners of the network have shared words of encouragement.
“Great cause,” says John Sherwood. “Keep pedaling your velo, fahrrad, bicicletta, велосипед, 自行车, or whatever language is spoken in the countries Fulbrighters come from or travel to.”
Renee Cooper commented, “Thank you Nan for continuing the FULBRIGHT mission! As a 2013 Fulbright Lecturer Scholar I share your sentiments and passion! #StandForFulbright #Fulbright #FulbrightGNY. Ride on!!!”
“Representatives of the Greater Pittsburgh Area Chapter of the Fulbright Association are hoping to catch up with Nan in Niles, OH in mid-June,” wrote Chapter president Timothy Austin. “Looking forward to cheering you on!”
On behalf of the Fulbright Association office in DC, we would like to join the chorus and give a heartfelt “Go Nan!” If you would like to make a pledge for Nan or leave your own words of encouragement, click here.
We are excited to share important news affecting the Fulbright community worldwide. On the 22nd of May, the Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board unveiled a rebranding of the Fulbright Program, with a new logo and mission-driven language.
In coordination with all Fulbright-related organizations around the world, the Fulbright Association is joining this effort, and we are pleased to share our new logo. You will find this now on our website and all social media channels. Over the coming days, all of our chapters will make the same transition.
Why is this happening? The new logo is part of a wider effort to put the Fulbright’s mission front and center, conveying the Program’s prestige without being elitist. The messaging and the logo emphasize the impact on mutual understanding, the exchange of knowledge and solutions to complex global challenges.
How did we get here? The State Department and its partners have spent several years developing this rebranding, interviewing over 100 Fulbrighters, educators and others worldwide, surveying over 1,000 U.S. college students, and analyzing Fulbright’s coverage in the U.S. media.
We hope that you are excited by this rebranding and the new logos for Fulbright and the Fulbright Association. You can celebrate by getting your new Fulbright t-shirt, and catching up with Nan McEntire, as “Nan Rides for Fulbright” across the U.S—sporting the new brand!
You can also celebrate by taking action right now to ensure Fulbright’s continued funding by Congress. If you haven’t signed the petition, do that right now. If you have, but didn’t send a quick email, then click here to contact Congress. Both will take just a minute and help ensure the future of Fulbright!
The Fulbright Association mourns the passing of Richard Lugar, former Indiana senator and the 2016 recipient of the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding. Senator Lugar was known for his leadership in foreign policy, his bipartisanship approach to decision-making, and his passion for pursuing global citizenship. His political career, marked with compassion and pragmatism, won him the respect and friendship of Republicans and Democrats alike.
As a Fulbright Prize laureate, the Association recognized Lugar’s support of international diplomacy. Serving as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1985-87 and again from 2003-07, Senator Lugar occupied the position that Senator Fulbright himself once held. In response to the attacks on September 11, 2001, he co-sponsored the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study Program, which awards scholarships to students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study in the United States. He was a strong supporter of nuclear nonproliferation, and co-sponsored the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
“It’s important because the Program is fundamental, not only to the foreign policy of the United States, but to the building of relationships among nations,” said Senator Lugar on his strong support for the Fulbright Program. “The opportunity for students – who are going to be leaders – to be in other environments, to understand different disciplines, different histories, is a remarkable explosion of talent and interest. The momentum of this must continue.”
He was awarded the Prize in a ceremony that was followed by the opening ceremony of the 2016 annual conference in Washington, DC. Representative Joaquin Castro (Texas District 20) attended to give a speech in his honor. The Prize recognizes and rewards outstanding contributions toward bringing peoples, cultures, or nations to greater understanding of others. Other awardees include South African president Nelson Mandela, United States president Jimmy Carter, Secretary-General to the United Nations Kofi Annan, and most recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“When he walked across the stage at our 2016 conference, Richard Lugar carried with him the seriousness of purpose that characterized his work and a vision of hope, like that of Senator Fulbright, that we could shape a better world,” said Nancy Neill, who presented the Prize to Senator Lugar as the 2016 President of the Fulbright Association.
Among Senator Lugar’s many other accolades, former president Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Along with Senator Joe Biden, his partner on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, received the Crescent of Pakistan in recognition for his multifaceted support for Pakistan in 2008. In 2005, the American Foreign Service Association awarded him the Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. His legacy continues in the Lugar Center, a nonprofit and bipartisan public policy institution established to provide research-based advice on some of the issues most important to the senator: global food security, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, foreign aid effectiveness, and bipartisan governance.
Senator Lugar will be remembered as a dear friend to the Fulbright community.
“My Fulbright in 2010 in Ireland was an outstanding experience,” says Nan McEntire. “I want to make sure that Fulbright continues to provide a strong and viable professional program for teachers and scholars throughout the world.”
Nan’s route across the United States
Many Fulbright alumni share Nan’s passion for promoting and protecting the Program. But not many go through such great lengths – literally – to do it. To raise money and awareness for the Fulbright Association’s mission, Nan plans to cycle coast-to-coast across America in a six-week journey. She will meet Fulbrighters and other friends of the Program along the 3400-mile trip.
At 72 years of age, Nan is a veteran cyclist. “A bicycle has been my number one mode of transportation for most of my life,” she says. “I rode a bike to Indiana State University for all of my teaching years because I was to cheap too pay for an annual parking permit, and I also ride everywhere here in Salt Lake City.”
As the President of the Utah Chapter of the Association, Nan also is serious about giving back to the Program from which she received so many priceless experiences. She has led the Chapter through a range of activities, from potlucks to hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Nan is riding with CrossRoads Cycling, an organization that gives participants the option of raising money for non-profit causes of their choice. Her cycling team will embark from Los Angeles on May 11, and plan to finish their long journey on June 29 when they ride into Boston. As they pass through 15 different states, covering an average of 90 miles per day, the group will take in the local sites and landmarks.
Would you like to support Nan’s ride? Click here to make a pledge. All donations will go directly to the Fulbright Association.
Fulbrighters love a challenge. We imagined an adventure overseas (which also means coming to the U.S.) as an optimistic act of discovery and diplomacy. We then tackled the unexpected problems of living that adventure, and then we returned, eager to give back to the communities—and the taxpayers—who had funded our grants.
Our current and ongoing challenge is how to help the Fulbright Program steer through the stormy waters of this political era. And, like shipmates tossed about by a squall, we know the answer to that challenge is to work together and throw our full and collective energies into weathering that storm.
As of this writing, over 3000 of you have signed the petition—and we want to reach 10,000. Nearly 500 have sent a communication to Congress, and we hope for many more. Writing directly to your representative, using this link, is a powerful opportunity to tell your own story to those who make funding decisions. Please do so, even if you have signed the petition already.
You can also join us for Advocacy Day on October 24, connected this year to our Annual Conference here in Washington, DC. Look for our registration announcement on May 15, and then join what we hope will be the largest group of Fulbrighters and friends ever to visit Capitol Hill at one time.
Our spring Advocacy Day, scheduled for February, was cancelled due to a second possible government shutdown. Sometimes it is better to avoid a storm. The cancelation was an inconvenience to many registered advocates, and we apologize.
President Trump eventually signed a spending bill for the State Department that included $271.5 million for the Fulbright Program. This 13% boost in spending from $240 millionwas a budgetary wash, however, as it represents a transfer of funds for the Fulbright in Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Association members in New Hampshire, Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri visitedstate and district congressional offices in April. We thank them for taking the time to speak directly to these offices about the Fulbright, telling stories of the impact of the program here and overseas. (Inspired by this work, folks in Kentucky and Missouri are starting the process of opening the first Association chapters in those states.)
It is not the custom of this newsletter to mark the passing of Fulbrighters. Perhaps we should, as the world is diminished each time we lose a member of our extraordinary community.
But sometimes, that loss is so painful, when that person is young, that we should pause, grieve and remember. This is one such moment, which I share for personal reasons—and so ask your forgiveness.
On April 23, a bright light was lost, a “sunshine” extinguished with the death of Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick, a Fulbrighter to Hungary. Charity was an exceptional soprano with a promising career when, 15 years ago, she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a fatal condition that made singing nearly impossible.
She later told the story of the journey that followed—barely surviving one double lung transplant and then another, enduring family tragedies, and then suffering from skin cancer—in her memoir “The Encore.” And yes, she did sing again, gloriously.That story is documented better than I can by the Washington Post, the BBC, CBS News, CNN, and NY Daily News.
I first met Charity when she came to my office at Johns Hopkins University to ask my help to apply for a Fulbright to Hungary. She came from a prominent Hungarian-American family—her grandfather was longtime congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, a native of Budapest—and she wanted to study at the Liszt Academy there. It took two attempts, but she did go on that Fulbright.
Like many of us, she did not expect the experience she lived. While she did study voice at the Academy, she gained insight into the challenges posed by a repressive political regime. In 2017, she shared that experience—and her extraordinary singing talents—as the keynote speaker at the Fulbright Association’s annual conference.
In her address, she saw the parallels between the physical challenges of her transplants and the cultural challenges of international exchange:
As we engage in the communities we visit, the Fulbright tempers the immune system and the fellow is the transplant, allowing foreign to sit with the native, bringing vital tools for the future and reciprocating with a chance for a new understanding of life.
She wrote to me later, thanking the Association for the chance to “share the evening with the Fulbright family…There were so many bright, decent people working to do good in the world.”(Please click here to see a video recording of her speech and singing performance that evening.)
I saw her one last time, only months ago. She clearly was losing her battles, but it never occurred to me to worry or to say goodbye. It was impossible to think that someone so vivacious, so optimistic, so thoroughly joyous to be alive could ever die. Yet here we are, and the Fulbright world is less bright today as we lose one of our most extraordinary talents, taken from us far too soon.