Cruising Altitude: A Fulbright Scholar’s Time in Bahrain Enhances Teaching and Research

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Vedapuri Raghavan, Distinguished Professor of Finance, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
2018-2019 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Bahrain

Fulbright U.S. Scholar Dr. Vedapuri Raghavan began his time abroad with excitement and nervousness: “When you embark on a journey like this, you always have a thousand questions spinning in your head: How will you be received in the host country? Will you miss your family? Will you achieve your academic goals?”

His questions were answered with an amazing experience that changed his perception about the Middle East and enriched his teaching and research.

Dr. Raghavan received a warm welcome from faculty and administrators at the University of Bahrain, as he spent two weeks preparing for the international finance management course he would teach there. On his first day of teaching, he was pleased to see that about two-thirds of his class were female students, proving wrong his initial fears about education access inequality. His students were eager to learn and interact, ensuring that his program year was off to a good start. 

In addition to teaching the course, Dr. Raghavan also spent his year in Bahrain conducting research on the use of Islamic financial products in the aviation industry, with a special focus on aircraft finance. To deepen his understanding of Islamic finance, he attended classes, traveled on a regional grant to the United Arab Emirates to meet with industry professionals, and attended regional conferences.

Like all Fulbrighters, Dr. Raghavan had many opportunities to build connections with the local community. He joined the Bahrain Tennis Club and played tennis with locals. He visited many Bahraini landmarks, including the Bahrain National Museum and the King Fahd Causeway -- an engineering marvel built over the ocean and linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. He also had the chance to meet several influential figures, including the CEO of the Bahrain Islamic Bank, at a holiday open house hosted by Justin H. Siberell, U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain.

As he returns to the United States, Dr. Raghavan has been incorporating his Fulbright knowledge and experiences into his academic work. He is currently working with faculty at American University to develop a graduate certificate in Islamic Finance. He is also enriching his teaching by incorporating Islamic finance into his International Aviation Finance course at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and will include a chapter on the topic in the next edition of his book, Aircraft Leasing and Financing: Tools for Success in International Aircraft Acquisition and Management. Finally, he is looking to deepen international ties at his institution by connecting the Provost of Embry-Riddle with the Director of International Relations at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, in hopes of developing an exchange program between the institutions.

Dr. Raghavan’s time in Bahrain both expanded his cultural horizons and gave him the knowledge and experience to further his work. He is grateful for his time as a Fulbright Scholar and says that his experience abroad “forever changed my perception about the Middle East and enriched my teaching and research.”