One World, Many Voices. That was the theme of the 2018 Fulbright Association Conference and an idea that truly resonates with me. We are all part of this one world, yet we all have our own unique stories and voices. It is important to come together and use our personal knowledge, experiences, and voices to make this one world a better place. This is the mission of Fulbright and it was beautifully communicated at the conference in Mexico this year.
“We are all part of this one world, yet we all have our own unique stories and voices.”
This past November, the Indiana Fulbright Chapter was able to use grant funds to send me to present my research at the Annual Fulbright Association Conference in Mexico. I had conducted educational research in Helsinki under the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching program in 2015 and it was great to be able to share my research. My presentation was titled 11 ways Finland Teaches US less is More, which can be found on my blog Filling My Map.
This conference was held in Puebla Mexico, a city that I had not heard of before the conference, but one that will now be forever imprinted on my heart. Puebla is a vibrant historic city full of gorgeous churches, fabulous art museums and was absolutely dripping in culture. The colorful city was even more vibrant during my visit because it was celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. I arrived on October 31st and the streets were filled with lovely families, street food and beautiful marigold covered ofrendas celebrating family ancestors, personal histories, and Mexican culture. Kids were running around the streets with their face painted with skulls asking for candy, while the smell of delicious Mexican Street Food hung in the air. It was fun, vibrant and full of love, life, warmth, music, and culture. I felt like I had walked into the Disney movie Coco. It was everything I dreamed Mexico would be.
“The information, encouragement, and support gleaned from these chapters have proved to be extremely valuable to our Indiana Chapter….”
The Conference itself was an eclectic mix of Fulbright Alumni from all around the United States as well as Mexico. Fulbright Mexico has recently focused on developing its Fulbright Association chapters. It was great to see the hard work they were doing to build a thriving Association and it was nice to be able to support and encourage them as they develop themselves as an organization. It was also wonderful to get to meet so many brilliant people with similar mindsets who have come together in a spirit of collaboration. I was able to attend the Chapter Management Seminar and it allowed me to get ideas, support, and encouragement from leaders and members of some of the most successful and thriving Fulbright Association Chapters. The information, encouragement, and support gleaned from these chapters have proved to be extremely valuable to our Indiana Chapter and I hope to be able to use what I have learned and the connections I have made to improve our home chapter.
“He communicated words of warmth and appreciation towards the American people.”
The entire conference was beautiful and meaningful. The city of Puebla, The Mexican Fulbright Association, and the leaders at UPAEP did a fabulous job of playing host to the Fulbright conference. One of the Keynote speakers at our opening reception was Jorge Alberto Lozoya, Minister of Fine Arts and Culture and a former Mexican Ambassador. He communicated words of warmth and appreciation towards the American people. I found this to be exceptionally beautiful considering current diplomatic relations between the two nations. He stated that when America is happy and thriving, the whole world thrives. He also said that he has noticed a sadness that has started to cover the US and it was his mission to make Americans smile again- And that he did.
Those of us who had the amazing opportunity to attend the conference in Puebla Mexico left with full hearts. We learned so much from each other and the kind generous people of Puebla. We got to experience a beautiful, charming, historical city full of incredible architecture, art and culture. We saw the love and warmth of the people of Mexico and also got to be inspired to promote global peace and understanding.
“Those of us who had the amazing opportunity to attend the conference in Puebla Mexico left with full hearts.”
The biggest takeaway I got from the conference was a renewed passion for Fulbright and what this organization stands for. More, now than ever, our country needs to be investing in understanding different perspectives, seeking mutual respect for other cultures, sharing ideas, and a renewed dedication towards cultivating lasting and meaningful international relationships. Fulbright members are ambassadors for hope, cooperation, and understanding. We are soldiers of peace, ideas and goodwill. This is how we build a stronger world.
“Fulbright members are ambassadors for hope, cooperation, and understanding…This is how we build a strong world .”
It was so empowering and encouraging to see so many wonderful people meeting together to celebrate the good in this world and sharing what we have learned from studying it. We have but one world, it is up to us to all use our own unique voices and experiences to collectively protect it. Many voices can sound chaotic, destructive and dissonant if we do not work together. However, through understanding and collaboration, many voices can create a glorious melody, a symphonic Choir and a collective voice of change. Fulbright was created to unify the many voices in this one world to create a choir whose song is a song of hope. That is why I am so thankful I got to attend the conference in Mexico dedicated to the idea of: One World, Many Voices.
Kelly Jo Day
Fulbright Distinguished Teacher
Mathematics, Westfield Washington Schools