Within the blink of an eye, the Fulbright year 2015-2016 has flown by. To commemorate all the wonderful adventures and individuals I have gotten to experience and meet, I wanted to write a quick post sharing my top 5 favorite things (in no particular order) from the past year. J
The Fulbright Community
Some of my most fun moments this year have been with the Fulbright community. I’m so glad to have met people passionate and engaged in their respective fields. I have learned about women artists and their portrayal of the nude in the 19th century to the political representation of Islam in France to the educational challenges of children going to school in Luxembourg, and gained a much greater appreciation of other disciplines. I cannot be more appreciative for the amazing individuals I have met and hope to keep in touch with going forward. From holiday parties to weekend trips to birthday celebrations, there have been many happy moments shared with the Fulbright group this year, including many with my awesome roommates (shoutout to Joy and Andrew!).
My research group Hospinnomics
My research group has been also one of the best highlights of this year. Quite international as well, with some of our team from Colombia, Russia, and Romania, it’s been wonderful to exchange with other young researchers interested in health economics on an intellectual level. They’ve helped me to better understand the French healthcare system and its intricacies, and I’ve helped them in return with their comprehension of U.S. health policy. Outside of academic exchanges, we have gone on scavenger hunts, picnics, and even a team retreat to the southern side of the Alps for a weekend. A heartfelt thank you to my wonderful Fulbright mentor and advisor Lise Rochaix for this amazing year!
An a cappella group whose name I didn’t realize was a pun for choraleurs (or choir singers) until it was explained to me, my funky and quirky choir group has continued to help me throughout the year learn slang and occasionally offensive French words that I would never have thought to ask about.
After some failed baroque choir auditions, I found myself auditioning for a rock and pop group that sang some of my favorite songs from Queen, the Jackson 5, and the Supremes.
In addition to spontaneous outdoor concerts, our group entered into a battle of the bands competition this past year in which we sang our hearts out to the songs we prepared throughout the year. We made it past a few rounds to get to the final, getting to sing in well-known venues including le Batofar, l’Alhambra and le Trianon. I had been worried about not finding a community with my similar artistic interests, but fortunately I was able to find a diverse group of individuals from different ages and backgrounds to share music with.
Students at EHESS
I took courses at EHESS this year focused on health and social policy. It was an intensive experience diving into Master’s levels courses in French, but helped to me to get up to speed quickly on terms used in the field. It also gave me an understanding for the traditional pedagogic approach that the French took, which often included a foundation consisting of 200 years of works by famous philosophers and writers. Working in group projects, I got to know my classmates and share my perspectives about the development of the welfare program, our different approaches to questions such as social inequality, and the different ways we conducted field studies (à l’Américaine vs. à la française).
Coding workshops launched with various associations
At the start of the year, I became a volunteer with NGOs focused on helping refugees adapt to life in France. During events, I began to get a grasp on the key challenges that they had in integrating into the community. Language and cultural norms were of course a big concern, but for those who had already gotten past some of these hurdles (or were still in the process of doing so), stable employment was a pressing dilemma that was on their minds, and one that had ramifications for the economic and social aspects of their lives too. Seeing how tech skills have been in increasing demand, I decided to launch coding workshops with Singa and other partner organizations to open up professional opportunities for our participants. The first series have just finished successfully with a dedicated group, and we are aiming to continue our efforts into the following year as well!