Fulbright Amizade Participants Travel to Appalachia for Service Learning

Jul 09, 2018
The Fulbright Foreign Students participating in the 2018 Amizade service-learning seminar representing ten countries

From April 28 – May 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsored ten Fulbright Foreign Student Program participants to engage in a week-long service-learning program in Williamson, West Virginia led by Amizade Global Service-Learning. The selected Fulbrighters, emerging leaders in a variety of fields, have all demonstrated a commitment to service in their communities. This is the third year that Amizade and Fulbright will work together in West Virginia.

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 meaningful connections 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 to maintain their cultural framework while also creating a realm of new opportunities.

During their week-long program in Williamson, the group of ten 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 Fulbrighters will be working with during their program. 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 Amizade 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 is the third year that Fulbrighters will visit Williamson to participate in Amizade’s service learning program. Reflections from 2017 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!


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