Dr. Brian Culp: Thursday’s featured fulbrighter in celebration of International Education Week #IEW2014

 

Health is a Ball of Wealth

Dr. Brian Culp, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in The Person and Society 2014-2015, Concordia University

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My work revolves around understanding why people move and how to break down barriers for those who cannot, due to the lack of opportunity or other barriers. My excitement at being chosen as Fulbright Chair in the Person and Society at Concordia University was primarily because of emerging trends that are impactful for other cities in North America. First, Montreal is striving to meet the challenge of preserving the local heritage amidst the growing trend of internationalization. Second, people aren’t participating in near enough health-enhancing behaviors, particularly as it relates to physical activity and increasingly as it relates to physical activity among indigenous populations, persons of color and immigrant groups.

An emerging body of research has attempted to identify reasons for this. These include language barriers, policies and regulations that have worked against underrepresented populations, and the lack of health initiatives that are culturally responsive. In a lecture that I gave a few weeks ago in an intervention in human systems course, I began talking about this using a simple object: A beach ball.  Why?

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A beach ball is an object that most of us can relate to. It’s relatively inexpensive. Most of us have experienced hitting a beach ball in a recreational format or seen one being hit among a group of people. When the group is small, you have a better opportunity to participate. There is a feeling of accomplishment when we strike the ball and if it makes us feel good we want to do it more.

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Adding more people to the group gives fewer opportunities for participation. This adds to the level of frustration for many. If you ever witness a group of people involved in this sort of activity, invariably, you will begin to see the following: 1) the few who have the knowledge and means of communication to strategize for control of the ball 2) others who feel as if they cannot compete but are not compelled to change the task and 3) those who leave after realizing that they do not have the knowledge and cannot compete in a task they felt initially confident about. The beach ball being hit is health, which many of us take for granted. In theory, health-enhancing behaviors can be demonstrated by all, but we have not had a history of effectively engaging diverse groups in providing this knowledge over the course of North American history.

As simple as this example sounds, it is at the foundation of the two projects that I am currently involved in. The first is a collaborative effort between the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan to try to promote Healthy Active Living among Indigenous Youth at a Tipi Camp in Saskatchewan. Indigenous youth are Canada’s fastest growing demographic and have health risks that are impacted by the structure of physical activity in schools and community, economic practices and access to knowledge on healthy behavior. The overall goal is to promote interventions that decrease sedentary behavior while providing agency and leadership opportunities for youth.

The second project is a recent initiative with PHE Canada. We Belong is a program that engages community groups to participate in newcomer youth engagement through physical activity. In particular, it engages sport and physical activity as a means of health, integration and socialization. Community groups in common geographic areas will be gathering on a weekly basis for face-to-face meetings and asset building activities.

Both of these projects have been enhanced by the Fulbright Canada experience. I am confident that this work will help us shed light on interventions that can provide a social benefit through the promotion of health enhancing behaviors in communities.

I guarantee you’ll never think about a beach ball in the same way again.

Brian Culp, Ed.D.
Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in The Person and Society 2014-2015, Concordia University
Associate Professor, Kinesiology
School of Physical Education and Tourism Management
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

Simone Bernstein: Wednesday’s featured fulbrighter in celebration of International Education Week #IEW2014

Fulbright student and passionate volunteer

By Simone Bernstein, Fulbright Canada student 2014-2015

As we recently celebrated Veteran’s Day, I give thanks to my dad and all other service members worldwide who give back and make a difference. To show our support for these individuals, I encourage youth to volunteer for organizations supporting these service members. Watching my dad leave for deployment and volunteering has changed how I view the world. Volunteering gives young people hands-on opportunities and the tools to address societal challenges, problem solve, and heal divisions within the world.

Simone in Traditional home Magazine, Classic Woman Awards 2014

Simone Bernstein, featured in Traditional home Magazine, Classic Woman Awards 2014

While young people increasingly seek out service opportunities, many struggle to find organizations willing to allow their help due to age restrictions. To help young people seek out projects in their community, my brother and I created a volunteer-run, non-profit organization called VolunTEEN Nation as a platform for teens to connect with service projects. Since the site’s establishment in 2009, more than 75,500 young people have engaged in more than a million service hours packaging letters and healthy snacks for military members, teaching violin and guitar to students in low-income school districts, providing technology lessons to older adults, growing gardens to donate produce to food banks, and taking on volunteer roles in their communities.

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Through these opportunities, I developed critical thinking skills that led to my interest in studying abroad through Fulbright Canada’s student program. As a Fulbright Canada student at the University of Toronto, the first three months of my exchange have been filled with incredible learning and networking experiences.  I have had the opportunity to learn from scientific leaders, have met students with varied interests, have been exploring my host city and continue to volunteer.

During orientation in Ottawa, ON, I enjoyed meeting other fulbrighters, visiting the National Art Gallery of Canada to listening and attending lectures from scholars in various fields.  In the evenings we engaged in late night discussions about world issues and possible solutions.

The excitement from orientation led to my first week at the research laboratory at the University of Toronto. I work with scientists to understand various aspects of aging. From reading various academic journals to processing data from multiple brain scans, I am learning various skill-sets and establishing ideas for future collaborations and studies. I am also attending many on-campus lectures and conferences from leaders in the field.

My experience with Fulbright Canada is providing me with the ability to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make a difference in the community. As an avid volunteer in both my hometown and host community, I wanted to get involved in youth-led organizations in Toronto. Currently, I am organizing STEM garden service-learning projects for youth in low-income areas of the city.  I am excited for the next six months as a Fulbright student.

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To learn more about VolunTEEN Nation, check out the  November/December issue of Traditional Home Magazine, where the organization was honored for supporting young people worldwide in their service efforts.

James Crispo: Tuesday’s featured fulbrighter in celebration of International Education Week #IEW2014

*Le français suit

Fulbright in Philly: A Student’s Dream Come True

By James Crispo, 2014-15 Fulbright Student

Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine; however, had often seemed out of reach due to the high costs, logistical challenges, and the ‘need to get on with my career.’ How could I finance learning abroad? Which visas would I require? What opportunities were there for Canadian PhD students to study in another country? After hearing about Fulbright Canada from colleagues, and feverishly navigating Fulbright’s website to learn about program requirements and the application process, it quickly became apparent that Fulbright was a fit for me – a Doctoral Student in the University of Ottawa’s Population Health Program.

Skip ahead nearly eighteen months and I find myself living in the heart of ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ (aka Philadelphia, or Philly), researching Parkinson disease and risks associated with antiparkinson drug use, alongside some of the brightest minds at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Photo: James at the University of Pennsylvania

Having only been in Philly for three short months (of nine), I am making the most of it. To date, I have attained my first study objective and prepared a manuscript on antiparkinson drug use in response to clinical practice guidelines and drug availability, have submitted abstracts to present my findings at two international meetings, and have travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to participate in a clinical research in movement disorders workshop. Additionally, I have become actively engaged in my host community by volunteering with a hospitality organization that provides nightly meals to those in need. This volunteer experience has allowed me to meet many new people and learn more about this incredible city. During my leisure time, I find myself travelling to new places along the east coast, such as New York City, and enjoying the outdoors.

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Photo: James (left) and a colleague in Buenos Aires, Argentina while attending the Clinical Research in Movement Disorders Workshop

My Fulbright experience thus far has been nothing short of spectacular and is truly a dream come true. I’m looking forward to what the next six months have in store, as there are many new people to meet, stories to share, and experiences to be had!

 

James Crispo, M.Sc.
Canadian Fulbright Student, University of Pennsylvania
PhD Candidate, Population Health, University of Ottawa
Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Office 729
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Étudiant Fulbright à Philadelphie: Un rêve devenu une réalité

Par: James Crispo, Étudiant Fulbright, 2014-15

J’ai toujours  rêvé d’étudier à l’étranger. Toutefois, ce rêve me semblait inatteignable à cause des frais élevés qui y sont associés, des défis logistiques, et d’un sentiment imminent de devoir compléter mes études et de débuter ma carrière. Comment pourrais-je m’organiser financièrement afin d’étudier à l’étranger? Comment pourrais-je me procurer un visa? Existait-il un moyen de permettre à un étudiant canadien au doctorat d’être formé à l’étranger? Toutes ces questions m’ont été répondues lorsque j’ai découvert les programmes d’études de Fulbright Canada. En débutant ma demande, je me suis rendu compte que la fondation des échanges éducatifs entre le Canada et les États-Unis offrait une opportunité hors pair me permettant de pouvoir étudier à l’étranger et d’être formé parmi les experts dans mon domaine d’étude. Somme tout, ceci offrait un excellent partenariat entre un programme éducatif et un étudiant au doctorat de l’Université d’Ottawa dans le programme de santé des populations.

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Photo: James au campus de l’Université de Pennsylvanie

 Dix-huit mois plus tard, je me retrouve au cœur de la ville de l’amour fraternel (ou plutôt Philadelphie) acharné à travailler sur ma recherche portant sur la maladie du Parkinson et les risques associés à l’utilisation de médicaments antiparkinsonien. Le tout parmi les chercheurs les plus distingués du domaine, et ce, à l’Université de la Pennsylvanie. Je suis à Philadelphie depuis que trois mois, mais à tous les jours je m’efforce d’en tirer profit. À date, j’ai accompli mon premier objectif d’étude qui était de rédiger un article portant sur l’utilisation de médicaments antiparkinsonien en relation aux lignes directrices de pratique et à la disponibilité des médicaments. La rédaction de cet article m’a permis de soumettre deux résumés à des conférences internationales. De plus, au mois d’octobre j’ai entrepris un voyage à Buenos Aires afin de participer à un colloque sur la recherche clinique des troubles neurologiques du mouvement. Je me suis aussi impliqué au niveau de la communauté en faisant du bénévolat hebdomadaire avec une organisation qui offre des repas aux gens en besoin. Cette expérience de bénévolat me permet de rencontrer plusieurs gens et d’en apprendre davantage sur la ville de Philadelphie. Dans mes temps libre, j’ai voyagé à New York et autres villes de la côte est afin d’explorer et j’ai aussi tenté de profiter d’expéditions de plein air.

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Photo: James (gauche) et un collègue à Buenos Aires en Argentine lors du colloque sur les troubles neurologiques du mouvement

Mon expérience en tant qu’étudiant du programme d’études Fulbright est exceptionnelle et un rêve devenu une réalité! J’ai hâte de voir ce que les prochains six mois me permettront de découvrir, de vivre, et de partager!

James Crispo, M.Sc.
Canadian Fulbright Student, University of Pennsylvania
PhD Candidate, Population Health, University of Ottawa
Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Office 729
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Frédérick Gagnon:  Monday’s featured fulbrighter in celebration of International Education Week #IEW2014

Canadian scholar Frédérick Gagnon is holding the Distinguished Fulbright Chair in Québec Studies at the Institute on Québec Studies at SUNY Plattsburgh until December 2014.  He is also a political science Professor at University of Québec in Montreal.

Dr. Gagnon’s project this Fall has been to evaluate the impact of Québec on the 2014 elections in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  In Dr. Gagnon’s words: “The literature on Québec-U.S. relations has never really documented what I call the ‘electoral connection’ between both societies, and particularly the weight of Québec on electoral debates in the four states that share a land border with ‘La Belle Province’.  Furthermore, I wanted to challenge the idea the Québec has little influence on U.S. electoral debates.”

FG Concord

Between September and November 4 (election day in the U.S.), Dr. Gagnon visited a dozen of campaign offices and interviewed Democratic and Republican campaign staffs in cities like Plattsburgh and Glens Falls (NY), Montpelier and Burlington (VT), and Concord and Manchester (NH).  Focusing on a sample of thirteen congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial races, he aimed at identifying the main issues of Québec-U.S. relations that were on the agenda and that mattered in the races.

Lac-Mégantic photo par Jackques Nadeau Le Devoir

 

Photo credits Jacques Nadeau, Le Devoir

In New York, he observed that the July 2013 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic had been a turning point in the electoral debates about oil trains travelling through cities like Plattsburgh and Albany.  In Vermont, he learned that the Addison Rutland natural gas pipeline project, proposed by a company owned by Québec’s gas distributor Gaz Métro, raised some controversy among environmental groups opposed to the project.  In New Hampshire, Dr. Gagnon paid close attention to the debate surrounding the Northern Pass, a line of transmission that would bring Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectricity to the state and that was a concern in most electoral debates in the Granite State this Fall.  In Maine, he paid attention to the reaction of Republican and Democratic candidates to the October attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, and concluded that these events raised new concerns about border security with Québec/Canada.

Talk SUNY Nov. 12

Dr. Gagnon will spend the last weeks of his SUNY residence preparing a journal article building on his Fulbright project.  He has already shared his preliminary conclusions with the SUNY community, where he gave a Distinguished Fulbright Lecture on campus on November 12.  A hundred students, faculty members and business leaders attended the event.  Dr. Gagnon has also been invited to share his observations in the Québec media on numerous occasions since September.  For instance, he published an op-ed piece in Le Devoir on November 12 (a leading French-language newspaper) entitled “Élections de mi-mandat aux États-Unis : Au moins quatre défis immédiats pour le Québec ”.  In his piece, Dr. Gagnon states that the last U.S. electoral cycle, the debates about the Northern Pass, and the Addison Rutland pipeline illustrate some of the key challenges facing Philippe Couillard’s government in the months to come.  Dr. Gagnon explains that his own personal challenges while conducting his research included campaign teams that were suspicious of him and thought he was a “tracker” or a spy from the opposing party.  To get around the issue he stated, “I tried to make sure they would hear my French-Canadian accent when I introduced myself, which helped me to convince them I was nothing more than a harmless Canadian scholar studying Québec-U.S. relations.”  “It played in my favour”, said Dr. Gagnon.

Frédérick Gagnon

Distinguished Fulbright Chair, Institute on Québec Studies State University of New York at Plattsburgh Professeur, science politique, Université du Québec à Montréal (en sabbatique) Directeur, Observatoire sur les États-Unis, Chaire Raoul-Dandurand (en sabbatique) [email protected]

@gagnonfrederick

Wind & Wings: Bat Conservation and Sustainable Wind Energy Development

2014 Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Project

By Victoria Chraïbi, 2009-2010 Fulbright Canada Student

If you hear clicking at dusk and look up, you might see a small shape swoop overhead. That means a vital member of your local ecosystem is at work – a bat, one of the most diverse and fascinating mammals. Also one at risk.  Due to habitat loss, White Nose Syndrome, pesticide poisoning, and being culturally maligned, have resulted in massive bat mortalities in the eastern US and Canada. These creatures have been misunderstood, undervalued, and understudied.

Nebraska is home to 13 species of bats, 7 of which are listed as at-risk and one of which is being considered for federal listing as endangered. Nebraska is in the process of developing large-scale wind energy sites across the state. Wind turbines cause several bat mortalities for reasons that are still being investigated. Research is being done on how to minimize the impact of wind turbines on bats, and to understand their habitat needs and migration patterns. Even with this knowledge, conservation actions that require restricting wind turbine locations or turning them off during certain times is unlikely without the influence of public support and/or regulations. We need to be the voice for bat conservation.

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Caption: The partners of Wind & Wings: Caroline Jezierski of the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Victoria Chraibi of the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership, and Lindsay Rogers of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Kickstarted by the Eco-Leadership grant, I collaborated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Project WILD and the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit’s Wind and Wildlife Project. Our goal was to provide public information in the rural Nebraska locations that are most likely to be developed, but that are also often too remote to easily access information, as well as urban areas where support for renewable energy is often the greatest. We took a multi-faceted approach to encourage bat conservation through responsible and sustainable wind energy development:

WORKSHOPS:

We hosted educator training workshops in the eastern part of Nebraska state. Attendees included formal teachers from preschool-8th grade levels, park rangers, zoo docents, library directors, and other backgrounds. The workshops had wide appeal; some attendees were local to the workshop location, others drove hours from their hometowns; we even had a group drive in from the state of Iowa!  At the workshops, speakers discussed bat ecology and opportunities for conservation. Educators tried out various teaching tools and activities:

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Picture 2: Educators try out various student activities centered around bats at the workshop.

Each educator received an education guide created by Bat Conservation International, a bat identification guide, a youth literature book on bats of their choice, and a bat house.

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Caption: Educators pick up the education materials provided at the workshops.

In the evening, ecologist Dr. Jeremy White from the University of Nebraska-Omaha showed the educators how bat research is done. First, he explained how bats are identified with echolocation acoustics:

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Caption: Using an echolocation acoustics detector in the field to identify bat species.

Dr. Jeremy White also set up mist nets, a way to safely and temporarily catch bats for research, and showed the kinds of data that is collected while introducing educators to one of Nebraska’s rarer bat species.

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Caption: Meeting northern long-eared myotis and gathering research data.

The enthusiasm of the teachers was infectious. Our hope was that they would take their materials and their personal encounters with bats home with them and share their newfound curiosity and appreciation of bats. Indeed, Project WILD reports an increase in requests for information and programs about bats since the workshops. One Omaha school’s fall festival was entirely bat-themed. This is a critical step in educating the public and encouraging them to care about their local bats.

SIGNS:

We wanted to reach as many people as possible, so we created a sign specialized to Nebraska’s bats and the challenges they face.

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Caption: Bat education sign created specifically for Nebraska’s bats.

We printed these signs on durable materials to be installed in state and town parks across Nebraska in areas that have both bat populations and current or planned future wind energy development.

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Caption: Map of sign locations in Nebraska.

The sign offers more information at a website that is currently being constructed by The Wind and Wildlife group. In turn, this website will make the sign available to download and print as a sign or poster for free use in more parks or classrooms. We also used the video materials from the workshops to create video modules available for educator training, making these materials widely available.

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Canada – Still a safe place to live and study

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGFriday, October 24, 2014

The recent act of violence that occurred in Ottawa on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, was shocking to our nation. While our office building here at Fulbright Canada was on lockdown, we watched the news unfold and followed the twitter feed in disbelief.

As Canadian citizens, we don’t know how to react or deal with this type of situation, and maybe that’s a good thing. Watching the news reports the day of the shooting I noticed two interesting points. First, a number of bystanders rushed to help Corporal Nathan Cirillo and perform CPR. Second, people did not have the instinct to drop to the ground; according to CBC “…people were running and hiding behind poles.” This demonstrates that Canadians are willing to help, even if it puts them in harm’s way, and that we are so seldom exposed to gunfire, at least in Ottawa’s downtown core, that we actually don’t know how to react. This may mean that we need emergency preparedness training, but to me it sends the message that Ottawa is generally a safe place to live. As Moscrop and Watson stated yesterday “…before Wednesday’s shootings, many of us assumed we would wake up in the morning and go to bed at night without physical threat. The same is still true today. Wednesday’s attack, whatever it was […] changes very little about how we conceive of the security of the state and its inhabitants as it relates to political violence” (Ottawa Citizen).

In fact, CNN reporter, Chris Cuomo, seemed surprised when he stated that there were only ‘four homicides’ in Ottawa last year. Ottawa Police’s official Crime, Police and Traffic Statistics 2013 actually states that there were 9 homicide incidents in 2012 and 2013, which is still very low for a major city. As a preventative measure to reduce firearm related violence, the Ottawa Police Service, in collaboration with Henry’s and Olympus Canada, launched the “Pixels for Pistols” gun amnesty program in 2013, encouraging residents to trade their guns for free digital cameras. In a four-week period, they had seized 1035 firearms in Ottawa alone. Unfortunately, this type of program, along with other preventative measures certainly can’t eliminate all violent crime. What happened here on Wednesday was unsettling and surreal, but

I for one still feel that Canada is a safe and lovely place to live and study. Ottawa residents have taken matters into their own hands and are sharing positive pictures and stories with the #MyOttawa hashtag.

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In the aftermath, what has affected our nation the most is the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo who was standing guard at the War Memorial. As Senator Jim Munson said “When we lose one soldier, we all hurt”. Our hearts go out to Cpl. Cirillo’s family and friends.

Michèle Phillips