Fulbright Student Creates Change in Local Education

Posted by Laura Alami
April 30, 2010
Downtown Seattle

About the Author: Laura Alami serves as a Program Officer in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Approximately 150 Fulbright foreign students from over 70 countries convened in Seattle, Washington, for a Fulbright enrichment seminar, “Global Challenges, Local Solutions: Fostering Change through Social Entrepreneurship.” The U.S. Department of State, which sponsors the Fulbright Program worldwide, hosted the April 8-11 Seattle seminar. I attended the seminar, one of 16 enrichment seminars for Fulbright foreign students across the United States in 2010, as a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) program officer.

Many of these seminars, including the one in Seattle, focus on social entrepreneurship as a model to address shared challenges in the areas of environmental sustainability, public health, education, and economic and social equity. Bill Clapp, co-founder and chair of the successful international microcredit non-profit organization Global Partnerships, gave the keynote address. During the Q and A session, one of the Fulbright students presented an idea that left me wondering. Repeating what his professor told him, he said that fostering social entrepreneurship sometimes requires convincing people to "quit their day jobs" and approach what they are doing in a different way.

Bonodji Nako, a Fulbright foreign student from Chad studying for her Ph.D. in Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, provided the response to my concern. She presented her story during a panel discussion on “Creating Positive Social Change in Education.” Before becoming a Fulbrighter, Bonodji was a teacher and curriculum coordinator at the N'Djamena English International School, one of the few English-French schools in Chad. Several years ago, the school's overseas sponsor withdrew support, leaving only the books and furniture behind. Bonodji was concerned about the lack of a bilingual institution for her children and decided she needed to recreate the school from the ground up.

With the help of the parent-teacher association and local funding and support, she successfully built a self-sustaining school where her children and over 100 other pupils learn in a bilingual environment. Bonodji will return to Chad and her home community with a Ph.D. in Education.

Fulbright enrichment seminars are an integral part of the Fulbright experience and support the overall mission of the Fulbright Program -- to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Through seminar activities, including community outreach programs, student-led activities, and panels with leaders from the public and private sectors, Fulbrighters discover how social entrepreneurs impact communities in the United States and work with their peers to explore how social entrepreneurship principles, structures, and resources can be applied in their home countries.

As the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship wrapped up in Washington earlier this week, I thought about the ways in which our Fulbright Enrichment seminars complemented the efforts being undertaken by the more than 50 countries represented at the Summit. By learning about how we are tackling challenges in the United States through social innovation, Fulbright students like Bonodji Nako return to their countries with new perspectives and ideas, allowing them to bring positive change to their communities, their countries and the world.



Heidi S.
Colorado, USA
May 3, 2010

Heidi L.S. in Colorado writes:

I am absolutely torn between the loyal citizenship I should hold so sacred, and; the truth that lies behind the betrayal of every Human & Constitutional right; my very own country has denied to me, as well as my children! I was/am a very loving, attentive, involved, and committed mother. My children are growing older now, and; it's interesting how strong their bond remains to me, through all that time and distance! My continued victimization has now become the only way of life I know, since; my mother is the continual abuser. Never mind the husband, that; put me in the hospital three times in the last year and a half! If you really want to hear the truth; I would love to share my story that exists right here; close to home. But then again; I am very familiar with the "dodge ball" approach; or a face on the other side of the globe that is suffering; and our great efforts to save the cause!!!

South Korea
May 3, 2010

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Dear to..

certain.! yes, certain. thank you to reveals the truth.
but, t`s the South-Korea`s 120 anniversary world-wide Labor Day pan-national conferences nodong.org/254514

If the condition is similar in if and thinks that only tries to invest does in election. Especially, thinks that do not forecast the works occur from Seoul.

That will to attend with will of the themselves is power in the thing two times was yellow. If concentrates to the person where the problem of the political party or the area is not thinks that there is a charm of investment.

Thank You.

May 3, 2010

Aziz in Morocco writes:

It's true that Fulbright students usually bring change to their communities.Yet,if the cjance of participating is given unfairly,then we should rethink it all.What kind of change would you talk about while you are not proving it yourself. I'm utterly mad on the fulbright preselection methods,hence don't see any change.


Gerald S.
Texas, USA
May 4, 2010

Gerald S. in Texas writes:

Well written and informative report.


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