Category Archives: Fulbright

Zoom! A virtual Happy Hour keeps our community together

Virtual Fulbright Chicago Happy Hour, April, 2020

FOLLOWING THE SOCIAL distancing guidelines and our mission to serve the Fulbright community, the Chicago Chapter organized a Happy Hour that took place on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

Using the current virtual technologies, Zoom came to the rescue and for 90 minutes, 30 participants, that included alumni, students, scholars and board members of the Fulbright association shared stories and talked about different topics at this time of global isolation.

Among the strongest topics in this online exchange were the current situation of the Fulbright program (after it was suspended) and state of newly returned Fulbright Scholars.

Fulbright Association Executive Director John Bader

Our special guest, John Bader, Executive Director of the Fulbright Association in Washington D.C., addressed the concerns of Fulbrighters and brought hope for the continuation of the Fulbright Program. The Chapter members had the opportunity to address their questions directly to the Director and got firsthand responses.

The discussion continued with topics ranging from mental health during isolation and medical insurance coverage to daily activities of Chapter members. The participants shared stories of their daily lives and how they have coped with the current state of the nation, and also appreciated being able to share and discuss the social aspects which are getting them through these times. The recently published COVID-19 Resource Guide that the Chicago Chapter board produced as an informational support for the local Fulbright community was a great resource which the Fulbrighters used for guidance and actionable information.

“The COVID-19 Resources and Guidelines played an integral role in providing accessible information to our Chapter, but also brought about a way to personally connect and communicate with our Chapter members,” said Dr. Edel Marie Jose, Chicago Chapter president.

There was also conversation about the survey’s results that the association put together to gather information on how to serve our community better.

The attendees are looking forward to another “social” Happy Hour to further discuss life in general among fellow Fulbrighters and enjoy live music performed by their colleagues. 

The board is currently reviewing the scheduling and programming of upcoming events to adjust them to the current situation. We hope that soon we will return to our usual “normal” one way or another, to continue fulfilling our mission, face to face. In the interim, however, we all remain connected.

Happy Hour! Get your glass and device ready!

I’TS TIME TO get social! The Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association invites you to a «Happy Hour» where we can connect, discuss, and enjoy socializing with our fellow alumni, students and scholars. Bring your beverage of choice and come join us for an evening of conversation and insightful tips to cope with the COVID-19 situation.


DATE Thursday April 23, 2020
TIME 6:30-8:00pm
CONNECTION Zoom Meeting ID and password have been emailed. Check your emails! If you didn’t get it, email fulbrightchicago@gmail.com


The event will be held via Zoom Conference and we will be discussing the questions posed to the chapter from the recent survey you had all responded to. Please check your emails for the Zoom meeting ID and password. We thank all of you for the great feedback and for connecting with us through the survey. There will be a number of board members attending, and we will open the floor to the discussion of these important topics and continue into the evening with the social hour.

And not to cut the gathering short, the Zoom line will remain open for those who would like to continue socializing and enjoying their beverages throughout the evening.

If you have not had a chance to look over the COVID-19 Resources on the Chicago Chapter website, there is invaluable information for everyone on a broad range of topics from official information on the pandemic to food, education, and mental health, to name a few. I encourage you to take a look. COVID-19 Resources and Guidelines.

In the meantime, we would like to respond to some urgent questions posed in the survey:

INSURANCE Responses regarding health insurance/co-payment showed to be your primary concern in the survey.
As a Fulbright scholar you are protected by a specific insurance company ASPE (Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges). The ASPE has a deductible of $25 for each claim. Seven Corners, Inc is the program administrator of ASPE. The Chapter would like you to consider to:
Call your program advising manager in the Institute of International Education (IIE) Midwestern Regional Center-Chicago, if it is your sponsor in this country. If so, your program adviser is taking phone calls from any student who needs advise on insurance issues; or
Call Seven Corners, Inc (1-800-461-0430). This toll free number is exclusively for grantees in the United States.
Below are two links that will help you navigate the questions and or concerns related to your health insurance in the united States.
https://fulbrightonline.org/covid-19#foreign-students
https://us.fulbrightonline.org/current-fulbrighters/health-benefits-summary

FOOD RESOURCES The recent Food Resources posting in the Chicago Chapter Website has information indicating the options available in the city, as to where to go and which organizations are distributing free food. There are also university food pantries that are an option if you live near a university campus. Here is the link below. Check out this LINK. I highly suggest going through the COVID-19 Resources section on the website for invaluable information and resources.
There are also several grocery delivery apps that could be helpful. One is Instacart, which allows you to select the grocery items you would like and then have them delivered to you. Users can add their zip code and you’ll find the local stores delivering to your neighborhood.

Additionally, there are a lot of restaurants in Chicago offering delivery services. Check out this LINK with a write up about specific restaurants by neighborhood. As you may know, many restaurants are still offering take out and contact-less pick up and delivery.

We look forward to seeing you all there! Be safe and be well!

Education resources for students, instructors

IN THIS UNPRECEDENTED time, educational institutions and government agencies at all levels are providing different types of assistance and resources to help students and their families to navigate the “stay at home” order without jeopardizing their formal education development. Below you will find a list of formal and non-formal resources for you to consider.

Many educational institutions in the U.S. and worldwide have moved to online instruction, extended their spring break, shortened or adjusted their academic year, or have otherwise departed from the normal course of business, including the cancellation of graduation ceremonies. These institutions worldwide are striving to meet their students’ educational needs while working to reduce and decelerate the spread of the pandemic.

::: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). For the most updated information, click HERE and scroll down.

::: U.S. Department of Education. For the most updated information, click HERE and scroll down.

  • COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel (both K-12 and Higher Education): See guidance here.
  • Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19): See guidance here.
  • Dear CPA Letter CPA-20-01, Site Visit Exemption During COVID-19 Outbreak: See guidance here.
  • Information for Accrediting Agencies Regarding Temporary Flexibilities Provided to Coronavirus Impacted Institutions or Accrediting Agencies: See guidance here.
  • Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents: See guidance here.

FOR STUDENTS

::: College Student Travel Assistance, Enterprise. Special accommodations from Enterprise for college students to get home, by lowering the minimum rental age and eliminating fees for young renters. For more information, click HERE.

::: Free Storage for College Students, U-Haul. U-haul is offering free storage for college students impacted by coronavirus. For more information, click HERE.

::: Federal Student Aid Forbearance. According to the US Department of Education, “to provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Sept. 30, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose.” For more information, click HERE.

::: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE,) issued guidance on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Non-immigrant Students. To read the memo, click HERE.


FOR EDUCATORS

::: Resources for colleges and universities. To access a database of resources and information for colleges and universities in response to COVID-19, click HERE.

::: Hope Center guide. To download a guide for supporting students during COVID-19 from the Hope Center, click HERE.

::: Teacher2Teacher. This organization is a growing community where instructors can connect to share resources, learn from one another, and collaborate, especially now. For resources and reflections, click HERE.

::: The Office of Postsecondary Education, issued a COVID-19 FAQ and Guidance for interruptions of Study related to Coronavirus. To read the memo, click HERE.

::: The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in English and Spanish. For more information, click HERE.

::: The Office of Postsecondary Education, issued Information for Accrediting Agencies Regarding Temporary Flexibilities Provided to Coronavirus Impacted Institutions or Accrediting Agencies. To read the memo from the Department of Education, click HERE.


At Home Non-Formal Education Activities

::: Department of Defense. To learn through videos about careers in STEM fields, click HERE.

::: Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES Kids’ Zone provides information to help learn about schools; decide on a college; engage in several games, quizzes and skill building about math, probability, graphing, and mathematicians; and to learn many interesting facts about education. To access the Kids’ Zone, click HERE.

::: Department of Energy

» For games and activities for children, click HERE.
» For games and activities for kids of all ages, click HERE.

:::  Environmental Protection Agency. For games, quizzes, and videos about the environment, click HERE.

::: The Library of Congress. For presentations and activities to help students learn about history, click HERE.

::: NASA

» For interactive lessons about space, Earth, solar system and universe, click HERE.
» For STEM-related activities for students of all ages, click HERE.

::: The Kennedy Center

» For Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, click HERE.
» For a Tour the Kennedy Center with The Pigeon, click HERE.

::: The Smithsonian

» For free Smithsonian STEM Games and Simulations, click HERE.
» To Meet the Animals of the National Zoo, click HERE.
» For 3D Exhibits and Virtual Tours of museums and collections, click HERE.
» For the Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour, click HERE.
» For the Digital Smithsonian American Art Museum, click HERE.
» For Distance Learning Resources, click HERE.

::: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For students to use real-time ocean data to explore today’s most pressing environmental issues, click HERE.

::: US Geological Survey. To learn from home about Physical science, Geography and Maps, click HERE.


—> Illustration by Elio Leturia

In times of distress, supporting local news sources is more important than ever

By Suzanne McBrideTHE HUNGER WE HAVE for news and information at this chaotic and confusing time demonstrates the important role the media plays in helping us navigate our ever-changing world. Now more than ever it’s imperative that each of us look for reliable information that has been confirmed by credible and authoritative sources we trust.

Where did your family member get the information he posted on Facebook? How did your friend get the information she posted on Twitter? Did the that information come from trained journalists reporting on the coronavirus? Or was your relative or friend simply sharing something they heard somewhere?


The “free” information that many of us get when we go online each day is not actually free.

This is the time when the importance of journalism, especially at the local level, is clear, and that’s why I’m asking each of you to make a commitment to support one local media outlet that’s helping you stay informed in this critical time. Whether it’s one of Chicago’s daily newspapers, a radio or television station, or an online site that covers your community, each of these outlets depends on your business to keep going and be able to provide the invaluable information you’ve come to rely on.

Well before the coronavirus crisis hit, hundreds of local newspapers over the last decade had closed, and many more now are in jeopardy. The “free” information that many of us get when we go online each day is not actually free. Journalists have to shift through a great deal of information; interview reluctant or fearful sources; confirm facts that are often complicated and convoluted; verify the veracity of video and photos submitted to them; produce coherent stories on deadline – and then do it all again later sometimes that same day.

At most media organizations, advertising, subscriptions and/or memberships used to cover the costs of reporters, photographers, editors and other journalists, but that’s not the case anymore at many places. Throughout the United States, news outlets have laid off employees, slashed their workers’ pay, furloughed staff members or had to shut down altogether. Your help is needed to prevent that from happening here in Chicago. Your support of even a few dollars a week can make all the difference.

Here are some of the many local news organizations I hope you’ll consider subscribing to or becoming a member. Please know this is not an exhaustive list:

» Block Club Chicago
» Chicago Defender
» Chicago Public Radio/WBEZ
» Chicago Public Television/WTTW
» Chicago Reader
» Chicago Reporter
» Chicago Sun-Times
» Chicago Tribune
» South Side Weekly

In a time of so much uncertainty when many of our budgets are already strained, I appreciate your willingness to support media institutions that help keep us informed about our democracy. Thank you!


Suzanne McBride is Chair of the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago and an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She is also editor and publisher of AustinTalks.org, an online news site that covers Chicago’s West Side. She had her Fulbright in Ireland.

Sheltering in place increases risk, danger for abuse victims of all ages

By Teuta PejaDURING THE COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuously told to self-isolate and stay at home because home is the safest place to be while the virus rages outside. But for victims and survivors of domestic/family violence this may not be the case. Some abusers may take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to exert further control over the victim. Self- isolation with abusers and social- distancing may increase isolation and family violence of more vulnerable groups.

If you are a victim or survivor of domestic violence, or if you are a support-group to a domestic abuse survivor and need more information how to act or help during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find more information in the links below.

» Domestic Violence service in Chicago
» Resources for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence During COVID-19 
» Tax Filing Barriers for Survivors of Domestic Violence
» Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide 
» Legal Resources for survivors of Domestic Violence during COVID-19 quarantine

Teuta Peja moved to Chicago from her hometown, Pristina, Kosovo in 2015, when she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to pursue her MA in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Currently, she is continuing her doctorate studies in Criminology at University of Illinois at Chicago. She refers to the Fulbright community as her international family.

Icons made by flaticon.com

Mental health: Dealing with loss and isolation

By Dr. Marilyn SusmanRIGHT NOW, IN ADDITION to the major losses of life, jobs and income in society, each of us is experiencing individual losses such as the end of Fulbright grants, separation from family and friends, missed graduations, and other lost opportunities. We have also lost the predictability that we take for granted such going to work or class, having our favorite foods available in the grocery store or going to a local restaurant to meet friends.

Dr. Marilyn Susman

I have been in the field of psychology for many years as both an academic and clinical psychologist. I was fortunate to be a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, Cyprus and Indonesia, where I developed long lasting relationships across borders. That is what we stand for as Fulbrighters—bridging cultural divides to build a global community. This pandemic is testing our core values, as we are now forced to shelter in place and avoid actual contact with family, friends and colleagues.

There are many practical concerns that other Chicago alumni will address. I want to focus on the mental health challenges that many may be experiencing. As the CDC says on its website, “It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry”. The challenge is how to find equilibrium in the face of all of the uncertainty in our lives. Developing routines that include the following will help you to cope with the pandemic, including the isolation and loneliness that sheltering in place causes.

A simple plan

  • Focusing on your physical well-being: Eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
  • Connecting with others: Set up virtual get-togethers with friends and/or family. Share your concerns with them
  • Staying informed, but avoiding too much exposure to news: Information may calm your anxiety, but too much exposure can be upsetting. Balancing your watching, reading or listening to news with enjoyable activities will help
  • Taking breaks: Make time to unwind. Reading a novel, going for walks, listening to music, doing an art project can be an antidote to stress
  • Calming yourself with mindfulness: Many apps exist to help you to defuse your anxiety. Some are “Headspace”, “Simply Being” and “Calm”. Each provides for some free sessions. Practicing mindfulness is also an antidote to anxiety and depression
  • Being realistic about work: If working remotely, or on a project, set aside a time and place to work alone or in virtual meetings. Being disciplined may help you to accomplish your goals and tasks, providing a feeling of accomplishment. But do give yourself leeway.

Watch out for symptoms

Despite exercising the above you may still feel unsettled. Although the pandemic itself and our sheltering in place may cause each of us to experience some of the following, be aware when these become extreme or overwhelming.

  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, loss and grief
  • Changes in appetite, energy or activity level
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions such as headaches, body pains, stomach problem or skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Anger or short-tempered
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

So, what can I do?

If you are experiencing the above symptoms and want to talk with a counselor, many resources are available. Please go to the following crisis units depending on your locality.

These resources were taken from the Open Counseling list of resources for the Chicago area. If you would like to discuss any of these resources with me or to consult me about your particular concern, you can contact me at marilynsus@aol.com

Chicago Department of Health, Bureau of Mental Health. Care that can provide supports for emotional, traumatic, or behavioral difficulties. Based on the needs identified by the consumer which includes goals, objectives and specific mental health services. For 24-hour assistance or to report a public health issue, call phone 311


Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago. According to its website works to eliminate the unnecessary loss of life due to suicide focusing on mental health for children, adolescents, emerging adults, families and veterans. Their programs uniquely covers identification, prevention and support. They also provide both a prevention plan (nutrition, environment, avoidance of food additives and other causes of mental health symptoms and illnesses) and education on brain health.
310 S Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone 800-209-8114 or 1-800-273-TALK


NorthShore University HealthSystem. The Department of Psychiatry and Crisis Intervention provides a variety of crisis related services focused on the individual patients needs:

  • 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week
  • A Crisis Hotline for those in psychiatric crisis
  • Emergency psychiatric evaluations to patients in the Emergency Department at all four Northshore Hospitals
  • Short term counseling
  • Evaluation and outpatient crisis counseling
  • Emergent medical social service calls
  • Workshops on crisis-related subjects to various hospitals and community groups.
  • Responds to community crisis when appropriate

Phone 847-570-2500


OMNI Youth Services. According to its website, their mission is to partner with parents and the community to provide innovative, transformational behavioral and educational support services to children, adolescents and young adults. Their services include counseling, 24-hour crisis intervention, substance abuse prevention and treatment, family strengthening, juvenile justice services, youth development and community outreach services. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone 847-353-1500


Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center. It takes courage to ask for help. If you or a loved one has ever been sexually abused or assaulted, ZCenter offers free, confidential services in English and Spanish to support you, significant others and non-offending loved ones on your healing journey. There are individual or group counseling for adults and children.
Zacharias 24-Hour Support Line 847-872-7799


Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Rape Crisis Hotlines provides survivors of sexual violence and their significant others immediate support, crisis intervention and referrals for the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The volunteers and staff at the hotline have received extensive training in sexual assault crisis intervention. The Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline is also the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) affiliate for the city of Chicago.
Phone Chicago 888-293-2080
Phone DuPage County 630-971-3927
Phone South Suburbs 708-748-5672


—> Information curated by Dr. Marilyn Susman
—> Illustration by Elio Leturia


 

COVID-19 around the world: Map and statistics

Worldometer

BY COLLECTING DATA from official reports, directly from Government’s communication channels, Worldometer is run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world.

To learn the current statistics of the COVID-19 epidemic around the world, click HERE.


Johns Hopkins University

IN RESPONSE TO the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, a team of researchers developed an interactive web-based dashboard (static snapshot shown above) hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.

To access the interactive map, click HERE.