The Joy of Visitors: The Enriching Impacts of the Outreach Lecturing Fund

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Nirmal Goswami, Professor, Political Science, Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Outreach Lecturing Fund Host

It started almost twenty years ago, with a reference to a place which I wanted to learn about — Calabria, Italy. Now, of course, I don’t even remember what got me interested in Calabria in the first place, but while reading up on Calabria, I stumbled upon a reference to Dr. Matteo Marini from the University of Calabria, who was to be in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in 1997.  I immediately became interested in having Dr. Marini visit our campus and contacted the Fulbright Scholar Program in Washington, DC to discuss that.

Fulbright referred me to what was then known as the Occasional Lecturers’ Fund and what is now the Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF). The application process to the OLF went fairly smoothly, and Dr. Marini came to our campus. His visit was a big success and the OLF Program has been a boon to our university ever since!

Karen Devine, Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Ireland, at TAMU-Kingsville in 2013

Through OLF, we have hosted Fulbright Visiting Scholars from Australia, Egypt, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Africa, the UK, and many other places. They have participated in department and program specific events, made in-class presentations, spoke to community-wide audiences, talked with student groups, and interacted with colleagues across all disciplines. Scholars have also been featured in local radio programs and newspapers. Since 2011, an annual College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Colloquium at our university has largely been organized around keynote speaking engagements by Fulbright Scholars supported by the OLF.

Our university is located in a rural region in the far southern part of Texas, off the beaten path of most overseas visitors to the United States. OLF has greatly benefited our students and the greater community by bringing the world to us, by opening up opportunities, and broadening the horizons of our students. Links forged with the Fulbright Visiting Scholars I met through OLF have led to the development of the Political Science Global Programs at my university. This initiative has established varied learning opportunities for our students in Asia, Africa, and Australasia.

We have always tried to provide our Fulbright guests with the “Texas Experience.” We have had them visit ranches, ride horses, and taken them to stores where some bought boots and Stetson hats to take back! All of them, without fail, wrote back from their home countries and referred to their Texas visits as one of the highlights of their Fulbright experiences. I can only hope that they all went back feeling as enriched as they enriched us.