A Fulbright research stay in Washington D.C.

I began my stay in the US as a Fulbright Scholar in August 2016. My project was to complete a book based on my PhD, and I had a contract and a deadline to submit the book to the publisher by December 2016. That meant I had planned a short stay in the US, and planned it to be efficient and focused. I was hosted at the School of International Service, American University, Washington DC. My hosts were ready to receive me, and arranged all the administrative procedures so I could begin accessing resources and start working immediately. I was lucky to get my own office at the SIS building which is not something I expected given the space constraints. After a few weeks in DC I began receiving information from the IIE. They offered a range of cultural activities that bring together Fulbright Scholars. DC is special in that sense. There are literally hundreds of Fulbrighters participating in various programs, as well as a local Chapter of Alumni. In practice it means that there is always something happening and you never get bored socially or culturally. I could write pages about my stay in DC, and outline in details all the social, cultural, and academic activities I’ve experienced as a Fulbrighter. These were mostly arranged by IIE and by the National Capital Chapter of Fulbright Alumi. I especially enjoyed the Enrichment Seminar in Alabama about Civil Rights. As a researcher whose work has a particular focus on US history and politics, I had substantial knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement, the events that took place in Montgomery and Selma, and the impacts of those on US society. I never thought I’ll have the chance to visit Alabama, go to the sights, talk to people that participated in the civil rights struggle, and walk with them the streets of Montgomery and Selma while they recount their memoirs. It was a unique fulfilling experience, and I am grateful for this arrangement. In addition I had the pleasure of meeting 80 scholars from across the world through this specific seminar. I learned so much about other fields of research, cultures and experiences both inside and outside the US. I also had a chance to talk about Norway and about my experiences. We formed bonds and connections, and I am already in touch with some of these scholars forming plans for future academic collaborations, as well as continuing the friendships we formed. Academically, I had the opportunity to complete my book (co-authored by my former supervisor and Fulbright Alumni, Prof. Bill Derman): US Assistance Policy in Africa – Exceptional Power. The book is currently with the Production Editor at Routledge, and is expected to be in print in August 2017. My stay in DC allowed me to complete elements of the text dealing with the second Obama administration, access archives, speak to scholars, and present my book in two distinguished forums: The Centre for Advanced Studies in Development (CASID) at Michigan State University, and to the Faculty of the School of International Service at American University. The constructive comments and advice I received allowed me to improve and streamline the text of my manuscript. In addition, I received funds from the Norwegian Council for Higher Education (SIU), to coordinate a four years collaboration project between my institute and the School of International Service. While I applied for these funds on behalf of my institution before I began my Fulbright stay, we received the news that the project was granted while I was at the SIS. This allowed me to begin discussions on implementation, and anchor our collaboration relationship in education and research for years to come. In sum, I thoroughly enjoyed my Fulbright experience. It was a unique opportunity for personal and academic enrichment. I was impressed by the program and the IIE working hard to make our stay smooth and pleasant. I’ve experienced the Fulbright Foundation as a professional organisation that works hard for ensuring that we have every option and opportunity to make the best out of our stay in the US. My only regret is that I stayed only four months and not the full year. But I’m sure that if my professional conditions will allow, I will attempt to apply again in the future to participate in this program. I am now looking forward to organise a book launch later this year, and will be honoured to associate this book with my Fulbright Scholarship.