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Fulbright Commission Iceland Newsletter Issue 22

Fulbright Iceland Valsson

Fulbright Iceland Valsson

With Dr. Susan Kaplan and Dr. Genevieve LeMoine at Bowdoin College

Making New Friends and Growing Connections

Message from Executive Director Belinda Theriault

Dear alumni and friends,

I hope your summer is off to a good start. I am feeling energized after a recent trip to the U.S., where I spent a week visiting colleges and universities in the state of Maine. Iceland and Maine have been increasing ties over the past years, not least due to Maine’s position as a gateway to the Arctic and increasing business ties. Icelanders and residents of Maine, both rural and urban, share many opportunities and challenges as northern, coastal inhabitants. However, although academic cooperation has been growing, a lot more can be done in this area.

The visit gave me an opportunity to meet with representatives of New England Ocean Cluster and the Maine North Atlantic Development Office, as well as with the Honorary Consul of Iceland and a local alum. The bulk of my time was spent visiting campuses, including the University of New England, Bates College, Bowdoin College, The University of Maine, Orono, and the University of Southern Maine. The main purpose of the trip was to highlight Fulbright Iceland opportunities, especially in Arctic scholarship, through discussions with leadership, faculty and students. The visits were fantastic. I learned a lot about the great work being done by these institutions. There is no doubt potential for cooperation. I hope that we will see more applications from faculty and students from Maine and we also hope to increase interest from Icelanders to do academic work in Maine. I wish to thank my hosts at these five higher-ed institutions for setting up a great program for me and for giving me such a warm welcome.

I also spent time in Louisiana, where I met with Iceland’s honorary consul in New Orleans, attended a State Department meeting with Fulbright Executive Directors from around the globe and spent a day with Fulbright campus advisers, courtesy of IIE. These meetings inspired me and gave me food for thought, as the Board and I work to continuously develop our work. Finally, I had an incredible experience at the University of Louisiana, where my hosts certainly know a thing or two about southern hospitality. Fulbright Iceland does not have many contacts in the southern United States, so I was thrilled to get an opportunity to learn about the impressive research program in Lafayette. Once our work was done, I experienced a Louisiana crawfish boil, as well as some excellent Cajun bluegrass music –  and I learned to dance the Cajun two-step! I met such wonderful people on this trip and I am thankful that the Fulbright program affords Iceland an opportunity to increase ties across the U.S. These visits bolster my view that we need to prioritize this kind of outreach, looking also to schools and geographic areas in the U.S. where we don’t have a lot of contacts. This is an important element of the diversity of Fulbright. Making new friends and growing connections is always a good thing, as any Fulbrighter will know!

I hope you will enjoy this issue of our newsletter. Please let us know what you think and send us your news for the next issue. Finally, I hope to see many of you at the Fulbright Alumni Association Happy Hour on the 4th of July (see alumni news below for more details).