What’s On Your Wish List?

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What’s On Your Wish List?

Do you have something on your wish list that you’ve always wanted to do? Well, don’t worry. There’s still time to do it.

My best friend, Donna, and I grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Our mothers were pregnant with us at the same time, but Donna is two and half months older. We are such good friends, I remind her of that every year on her birthday.

My earliest, most specific memories of us together are at her three-year-old birthday party. I can describe every detail, down to what she was wearing, what we ate, and the games we played. I’m sharing this information with you so that you can be as amazed as I am: Donna just ran for a position on her State Board of Education. Launching a campaign is grueling, expensive, mind boggling, and enormous, but she did it. I know I couldn’t do that, but she did.

Unfortunately, she was running against someone already entrenched in the position and did not win; however, she had a very substantial showing. People listened to her. People believed in her and used their votes to support her. She’s my hero.

I on the other hand have a different goal.  I am in the process of applying for a Distinguished Scholar Fulbright Award at Queen’s University Belfast, teaching, making presentations, and researching in Creative Writing for six months, beginning January 2022, while writing my multi-cultural book: Mia, Ruth, and Sinead: Rome, Newark, Belfast. 

For years, I talked about wanting a Fulbright. I received multiple emails as an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Fairfield, CT about Fulbright Information workshops, but they always seemed to be when I was teaching. I asked for notes and information from the meetings, which I am not so sure I even read, and that was about it.

My Fulbright journey began March 2020 after hearing Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth speak at the Westport Library in Westport, Connecticut about her amazing adventure, researching and writing her incredible book on a one-year Fulbright in Kamchatka, Russia. This debut novel, Disappearing Earth, was named on The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of the Year; National Book Award Finalist; National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize Finalist; Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Finalist; and Finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award.

Meeting and listening to her was all the inspiration I needed to take immediate action to apply for my own Fulbright Scholarship.  I contacted the Fulbright representative at SHU directly, met with him, and together we found the Fulbright Scholarship of my dreams. The first hurdle was creating a proposal package requesting an invitation to apply and receiving the invitation from QUB to apply. All of which I did and now I am applying.

Is it easy? No. Almost every person I meet tells me how competitive and difficult it is. I know, I’ve heard that before. I decided to let everyone I know I am applying, which has led to introductions all over the United States to former Fulbrighters who are the most helpful people ever, and Ireland, to a new best friend who is tutoring me on how to become Irish.

I read the Irish Independent, Irish Times, and Belfast Telegraph. I watch the “Derry Girls” on YouTube, although I can barely understand their Irish English, every little bit helps. I am as proud of myself for trying as I am of my best friend Donna for running. What’s your dream? What haven’t you done, yet, that there’s still time to do? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

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