Fulbright Amizade Participants Travel to Appalachia for Service Learning by Fulbright
In April 2017, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will sponsor six Fulbright Foreign Student Program participants and six Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni to engage in a week-long service-learning program in Williamson, West Virginia led by Amizade Global Service-Learning. The selected participants, emerging leaders in a variety of fields, have all demonstrated a commitment to service in their communities. This activity will support the Fulbright Program’s overall mission of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by forging a meaningful connection between these Fulbrighters and an American community with valuable lessons to share. The focus on service learning highlights the importance of volunteerism in the United States and how local communities in Appalachia are pioneering and engaging in thoughtful work in order to maintain their cultural framework while also creating a realm of new opportunities. During their week-long program in Williamson, the group of twelve Fulbrighters will participate in community service activities and learn about the town and its history. Williamson is a small, rural coal-mining town in Mingo County that was once home to 10,000 residents and a thriving coal economy in the mid-20th century. However, in recent years, Williamson has experienced a collapsed coal mining industry, a series of devastating floods, and de-population. Now with a population of 3,000, Williamson residents have joined together to create Sustainable Williamson, the local organization with which Fulbright students and alumni will be working. Sustainable Williamson works to increase access to fresh foods, initiate active living programs, and teach healthy lifestyle choices. Amizade, through its partnership with Sustainable Williamson in the Appalachia region, will offer Fulbright participants enriching service opportunities throughout the week relating to education, agricultural and economic sustainability, community health and how these aspects of a community are interrelated. This will be the second year in which Fulbrighters visit Williamson to participate in Amizade’s service learning program. Reflections from 2016 Fulbright Amizade participants can be found here. This year’s Fulbright Amizade participants will chronicle their experiences on the Fulbright Student Program blog, as well as on social media using #FulbrightAmizade. We invite you to follow along!