A Fulbright Filmmaker in India

Delaney Ruston
Independent grantee to India, 2012-2013

The convergence of both professional and personal experiences led me to make films on community mental health workers in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Grantee.

It was not that long ago that the thought of mental health care in a global context was a topic very foreign to me. This was true in spite of the fact that I am a doctor with experience in international health. Global mental health was just not discussed, either in my academic or social circles.

Then I read that the World Health Organization estimates that 450 million people around the globe have mental health issues including conditions such as autism, depression, dementia, and many others. I wondered why we never heard more about these stories.

I experienced the silence of the stigma surrounding mental health issues in my own family. I grew up under the shadow of my dad’s schizophrenia. The impact of his illness was enormous and hiding it was devastating. I knew my story was not unique because as a physician working in clinics for the underserved, I saw time and again the impact of stigma on individuals and their families. I decided to do my small part in fighting this stigma by making a personal documentary around my relationship with my father. (Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia, on PBS).

When I eventually lost my dad to his illness, I realized I needed to fight the silence on a bigger level.

I packed up my video camera and started traveling, looking for personal stories in China, France, the U.S., Africa, and India. The stigma was so great that it took a lot of effort to find people willing to share their lives on film.

As part of my Fulbright grant I completed the film, Hidden Pictures, which had its world premiere through the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, in April 2013.

While making Hidden Pictures, I was always on the lookout for solutions to the silent epidemic of untreated mental illness. That quest led me to Dr. Vikram Patel and the Public Health Foundation of India. Dr. Patel is a world leader in global mental health, who for years has been studying how lay people from Indian communities can be trained to provide basic mental health services.

I became passionate about understanding how such programs function. What exactly were these community members trained to do? How widely were such approaches accepted?

I have now spent the past eight months traveling to various NGOs in India to film these community mental health workers in action. In the future, I will make at least three short documentaries. Stepping in for Mental Health was recently completed. To know more about these films and Hidden Pictures, join the Hidden Pictures Film Facebook page. Also, visit, www.hiddenpicturesfilm.com.

Filmmaking through Fulbright

Kavery Kaul
India, 2012-2013

Five months in India! The possibility of a long-term experience abroad inspired me to apply for a Fulbright. This motivation was also predicated on the discovery that a Fulbright Scholar could be a filmmaker, like me, and is not limited to just researchers and professors. Creative expression, documentary exploration, non-academic field research – these fields are welcome in the Fulbright program. And Fulbright even allows families to accompany the grantee, which was important in my case.

With a Fulbright grant in hand, I flew to Kolkata to make a documentary about the American writer Fatima Shaik, whose grandfather sailed from Kolkata to the United States in 1893. Mohamed Musa was one of the first Indians in the U.S. He was also the only Bengali Muslim in Fatima’s African-American Christian New Orleans family.

I took Fatima on her first trip to India in a reverse journey that tells a story of the Indian diaspora and the making of America. It’s also a look at present-day Kolkata and New Orleans, as well as an insight into intercultural/interfaith differences that merit recognition, but need not keep us apart.

For me, it was a return to the city where I was born. I was able to have many cups of tea with the filmmakers, writers, historians, artists, and philosophers of this city. I spent time roaming the streets of Kolkata and the villages of Hooghly to prepare for the principal cinematography I completed with an international Indian and American production team.

In Kolkata, I was affiliated with the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI) where I spoke to students about my work and theirs. In fact, the production team of my documentary included SRFTI faculty in major roles, with students as assistants.

For my children who were in Kolkata with me, there was a warm reception at the neighborhood stores whenever they went by themselves. They were inspired by the places they visited. For all of us, it was an opportunity to develop close professional and personal relationships—the ties at the heart of a deeper, lasting friendship between peoples.

My Fulbright Experience in Aligarh, India

Afzal A. Siddiqui, PhD
Grover E. Murray Distinguished Professor
Texas Tech School of Medicine
India

Through a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grant, I went back to my alma mater, Aligarh University, after over 30 years to spend six months teaching and researching. This turned out to be the most productive and rewarding experience of my life. So much has changed in the years I have been away from India. There is now a tremendous amount of Western influence in every walk of life that was not there when I left India in 1982. The benefits of free-market economy can be seen all over India – indeed this great country is definitely on the path of tremendous growth and development. This has also resulted in the expansion of academic institutions, many of which are now privately owned. I visited and gave seminars at several of these and was impressed by the outstanding talent.

My host institution has a top notch faculty specializing in a very important area of research, parasitology. The research they are carrying out is very relevant to India. They are developing newer and more sensitive methods to diagnose parasitic infections that cause high mortality and morbidity both in humans and animals. These faculty members also excel in teaching- still doing it the old fashioned way with chalk and a blackboard. I found the students to be attentive and dedicated. Students still stand up when the professor walks into a classroom to show their respect.

On the administrative front, the United States-India Educational Foundation staff is extraordinarily efficient, friendly and helpful. USIEF is headed by Adam Grotsky, a brilliant, pragmatic leader who has expanded the Fulbright Program in a very constructive manner. USIEF staff, Diya, Vinita, and Bharathi, have stellar organizational skills and they are always there to find a way for things to work smoothly for the Fulbrighters from the United States.  The impact of their hard work with the Fulbright Program can be seen in so many areas and this continues to influence academia in India in a positive manner.

Overall, Fulbright was a great experience for me both personally and professionally. I strongly recommend scientists from the United States to pursue this excellent program at least once in their life time. I would welcome anyone to contact me if they require any additional information before applying to this program.

India has approximately 80 U.S. scholar grants across four award categories for the 2014-15 academic year. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in India, also known as the Fulbright-Nehru Program, offers the largest number of Fulbright U.S. scholar grants worldwide.

Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) Seminars: Which One is Right for You?

I learned so much about the student experience, higher education, and the employment process in Japan, and I became much more familiar with Japanese culture in general – the insight I gained has already been useful on the job this year. In addition to meeting all the generous and enlightening Japanese educators/administrators, one of the unexpected highlights of the program for me was getting to know the other U.S. participants – we bonded quickly and have stayed in touch regularly.

– Sarah Langston, University of South Carolina
2012 Japan IEA participant.

The Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) Seminars are designed for U.S. higher education administrators who are interested in spending an intensive two or three week period in one of six countries: India, Japan, Korea, Germany, France or the United Kingdom.

Each seminar offers participants an in-depth look at the higher education system, culture and society of the host country and provides an invigorating opportunity for networking with international and U.S. colleagues. All seminar participants gain a new perspective on the need to internationalize U.S. campuses and insight into how it can be done.

But which seminar is right for you? There are some differences in program goals to consider, depending on the strategic needs of your institution, as well as varying qualification information.

Participants in India’s IEA seminar will spend two weeks in March in New Delhi and other major cities, attending meetings with representatives of Indian universities, private-sector agencies and organizations and government agencies. The seminar aims to achieve a balance of topical discussions, knowledge sharing, experiential excursions and exposure to societal and cultural facets of India. Applicants must be international education administrators or senior-level university administrators with substantial responsibility for enhancing the international dimension of their institutions and who wish to expand opportunities for international collaborations through faculty exchanges, collaborative research projects or pursuit of innovative curricular design.

Administrators exploring the Japanese higher education landscape for two weeks in June will participate in briefings, campus visits, appointments with government officials, cultural activities and meetings with Japanese international education professionals in Tokyo and other cities. Preference is given to those who indicate an institutional interest in increasing the number of Japanese students on their campus. Applicants must be international education administrators or senior-level university administrators with substantial (at least 25 percent) responsibility for enhancing the international dimension of their institutions.

Korea IEA seminar participants will spend a week in June in Seoul and a week visiting institutions outside of Seoul. They will attend meetings with representatives from Korean universities, private sector agencies and organizations and government agencies. This program is not a vehicle for initiating or developing a U.S. institution’s linkage programs, for student recruitment or for establishment of branch campuses. Applicants must be international education administrators or senior-level university administrators with substantial (at least 60 percent of their time) responsibility for enhancing the international dimension of their institutions.

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In October, administrators have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Germany’s higher education system. During the first week in Berlin, participants are provided with an introduction through briefings, government appointments, campus visits and cultural events. During the second week, participants are divided into small groups, traveling to other German cities. Applicants working in career services, alumni affairs and development and fundraising are welcome to apply, along with those working in international exchanges.

Senior level administrators (deans, vice presidents, provosts and presidents) wishing to spend two weeks in October in Paris, Bordeaux and Strasbourg are invited to apply to the France IEA seminar, designed to familiarize participants with France’s higher education and research system. The program consists of briefings, campus visits, appointments with government officials, networking and cultural activities and meetings with French international education professionals.

For three weeks in August, administrators will explore the higher education system in the United Kingdom through briefings, campus visits, appointments with government officials, cultural activities and meetings with British international education professionals. U.S. and U.K. administrators will have interactive sessions to share best practices in both directions across the Atlantic. Applicants should be full-time international education administrators or senior-level university administrators. Applicants with particular expertise in student advising, student services, student recruitment and admissions are encouraged to apply.

All IEA participants return to their home institutions empowered with an enhanced ability to build partnerships, encourage study abroad participation and support international students.

Korea IEA US 2011 Group Picture

Each program can have varying qualification information, so applicants should read the award description carefully. All programs have intensive, pre-arranged itineraries, but in most cases, return travel can be arranged to allow for personal meetings or travel in-country. All awards include economy round-trip travel, travel within the country, lodging and a lump sum supplement for incidentals.

The application deadlines and more information about each program can be found at www.cies.org/IEA.  If you have further questions, please contact Alexandra Squitieri at asquitieri@iie.org or Anna Valiante at avaliante@iie.org.

New Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminars in France and the United Kingdom

We are pleased to announce the addition of France and the United Kingdom to the Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminars. The IEA seminars are designed for U.S. higher education administrators who are interested in spending an intensive two-week seminar in one of six countries: India, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, or the United Kingdom. Each seminar offers participants an in-depth look at the higher education system, culture and society of the host country. The seminars also provide an invigorating opportunity for networking with international and U.S. colleagues. Participants return to their home institutions empowered with first-hand knowledge, new professional connections and an enhanced ability to build partnerships, encourage study abroad participation and support international students.

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The February 1, 2013 application deadline for the IEA Seminars in Germany, France and the United Kingdom is fast approaching.

To Apply go to the CIES Web site:http://www.cies.org/IEA/ Please contact Margo M. Cunniffe, Assistant Director, mcunniffe@iie.org, 202-686-6243 or Anna Valiante, Program Coordinator, at avaliante@iie.org with any questions.

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To find out more, check out the Webinar discussing the Fulbright-Nehru IEA Seminar

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