To celebrate Fulbright alumni at Illinois State, Dallas Long, Milner Library, recounts his days in the program and the impact it made. #Fulbright@ISU #FulbrightPrgrm
Where and when did you complete your Fulbright?
I received a Fulbright Specialist award, which are designed for short-term projects. I was placed at the Qatar National Library in Doha, Qatar for 30 days in September and October 2017.
Please describe your project.
I was principally designing and providing training to the staff at the Qatar National Library, a new institution that will serve as the State of Qatar’s first significant public library. The QNL will also fulfilling the mission of a national library by collecting and preserving cultural works and objects relevant to the nation’s heritage. Because Qatar does not have a very long history of librarianship or libraries, the majority of the library staff had little or no prior library experience or training. In order to help the staff be better prepared for working with members of the public for the first time, I developed hands-on training activities to simulate common experiences at the service desks and helped them begin to formulate plans or policies for their services.
How do you believe your Fulbright experience changed your work after you returned?
Too soon to tell since I’ve only just returned, but I do hope that I’ve made lasting connections with the staff at the national library. I am eager to hear their stories after the library has its grand opening next month!
Travel can be referred to as the gift of the unexpected. What was the most unexpected thing you saw or experienced?
Truthfully, the most expected thing I experienced was the weather in the Persian Gulf. It was autumn moving into winter, but it was still between 100-110 degrees each day. I was not prepared for the oppressive heat and humidity, at least not at that time of the year! On the plus side, it was wonderful to have a little beach time and listen to the waves of the Persian Gulf on the seashore. I was also surprised when a colleague took to his home, and his neighborhood had a “pen” for the camels – almost like a stable of horses. It seemed strange to see that in a residential neighborhood.
What do you most wish people could understand about the Fulbright experience?
It isn’t a vacation! In fact, I’ve never worked harder. Because you’re recognized as an expert (and because people are curious about you), you’ll receive many invitations to provide guest lectures, meet students, receive tours of important buildings, meet persons of cultural or political importance, and generally just represent your country and your institution in a very positive light. You have to be flexible, gracious, and be willing to roll with the punches and deliver a lecture at a moment’s notice. So it’s definitely hard work, but it’s some of the best work out there.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for Fulbright?
The application process is easier than it seems, and the experience is so incredibly rewarding professionally and personally. It is well worth the investment of your time!