“In 1997, I began developing a Ph.D. dissertation project that focuses on the 1917 apparition phenomenon at Fátima as a means for explicating some of the complex sociocultural dynamics that helped to structure regime change in Portugal during the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Being awarded the Fulbright grant during 2000-2001 provided me with the opportunity to conduct the research necessary to complete this project and it exposed me to influences that impacted my life and thought in truly significant ways. I cannot begin to take account of or fully express the value of these experiences here.
What I would like to express here is that for me, receiving the Fulbright grant affirmed that the Luso-American Educational Commission is actively interested in supporting research aimed at generating new dialogues and understandings in and about Portugal as part of the larger Fulbright mission of fostering international and inter-cultural exchange and cooperation. This fact was regularly re-affirmed in my dealings with the staff at the Luso-American Educational Commission office in Lisbon, who expressed a sincere interest in my project and who offered unflagging assistance and encouragement throughout the course of my stay. The sponsorship and support I received to press forward and examine what were often culturally and politically sensitive issues strengthened my commitment to the work and what was at stake in it, and it raised the bar of expectations I felt obliged to live and work up to.
These factors all played important roles in making my experience as a “Fulbrighter” in Portugal so motivating, instructive, and rewarding. I cannot say enough about how my dealings with the Luso-American Educational Commission and its associates positively affected both my research and my experience of Portugal over the course of the past nine months.
Finally, it has been said that experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with it. From this perspective, my Fulbright experience will not end with my return to the U.S. Rather, this experience will be translated into my life and work in numerous ways that I hope will positively reflect the spirit of cooperation and the commitment to promoting mutual understanding and respect that I both benefited and learned from as a Fulbrighter in Portugal during 2000-2001.”
Fulbright Student Researcher in Portugal, AY 2000/2001