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August 5th 2009
Published: August 5th 2009
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About Fulbright

I am just a couple weeks away from a fully funded trip to Kathmandu, Nepal to be a musician and research music education for 10 months--in short, my dream assignment. How did this come about? The Fulbright US Student program. The Fulbright program gives selected applicants (winners) a chance to go to another country for an extended time (usually 7-12 months, depending on the country) and do a project of their own design. The idea is to promote exchange between countries, foster goodwill, and fund projects that will benefit this world in some way.

The Fulbright program website has the details, and you can get to it by searching for 'Fulbright Student IIE' and following your intuition.

To apply, you have to come up with a fantastic project that utilizes your background and strengths and sum it up in two pages or less with as many specific details as you can fit. You also have to write a one page narrative biography of yourself, and fill out the online application form. It is incredibly important that your three pages be absolutely perfect, as they will be competing with everybody else's three pages.

Apply! Please! Listen to your spirit of adventure! Be warned that the application is hard and frustrating and takes 100s of hours to perfect, but be consoled that the rewards are fantastic and lasting. Also, if you have type 1 diabetes, take heart! You won't be rejected for that reason. At least not to Nepal. Please contact me if you want any more personal information about the program:

As per Fulbright request, I state that this is not an official Department of State website, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State.

Now What

I leave for Kathmandu in two weeks, and at the moment I'm running around and collecting all the things I'm going to need for the project and for living in a new climate for 10 months. I've got some lists going:

For the project: Clarinet, reeds, sound recorder, batteries, computer, speakers, microphone.

Medical supplies: 3 months each of insulin, test strips, synthroid, pump cartridges, pump sites.

Books: Lonely planet guide, Nepal culture guide, Suitably Modern about Nepal middle-class, Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark, Into Thin Air about Everest, assorted journal articles about Nepal, music, and education.

Clothes: Jeans, nice black pants, lightweight cargo zip-off pants, shorts, Tshirts, button-up shirts, longsleeve shirts, socks, underwear, long underwear (hard to find in Texas in July), gloves, jacket, swimshorts, hiking shoes, sandals, nice shoes, old shoes, hats.

Assorted items: Camera with cables, important documents, wireless internet router, passport photos.

More importantly, I'm planning what to do when I arrive in-country. Here are some ideas:

Make an appointment to speak with my project affiliate Dr. Dhrubesh; ask him about popular music, music education, and area musicians (I'll include a list of specific questions later). Dr. Dhrubesh is a professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu and is a prominent member of the music community.

Find a madal teacher and buy a madal. Madal is a popular drum in Nepal; it looks like a cylinder with a drum head on each side, placed sideways on the lap so that a head faces to the right and a head faces to the left. The heads are tuned a 5th apart, and each head is treated in its center with a thick black layer to produce different overtones.

Go see some shows! Walk down the streets and find music venues. Talk to musicians.

Find or set up a free regularly occuring jam session. Every city needs one of these.

Hire a tutor to teach me Nepali. Fast.

Take care of Fulbright administrative obligations.



6th August 2009

Long Underwear
Oh good, you did end up finding some long underwear.

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