This spring, I had the privilege of attending the EU-NATO Fulbright Seminar! It was a wonderful opportunity to meet distinguished professionals at various EU institutions and to connect with other Fulbright scholars from across the continent! This experience has been one of the highlights of my year in the Netherlands, and I am so grateful to the Netherlands Fulbright Commission for making it possible for to participate in such an enriching seminar.
Planned by Elisabeth Bloxam of the Belgium and Luxembourg Fulbright Commission, this event entailed a once in a lifetime program. I had the privilege of learning from 45 Fulbright peers studying, researching, and teaching in a variety of academic institutions and disciplines and immersed in a range of unique cultural experiences across Europe. My fellow grantees were engaged, curious, and kind throughout the event. I was extremely impressed with their desire to learn from our distinguished speakers and the brilliant questions and comments they shared. Sharing a common culture and hailing from similar backgrounds allowed us to connect quickly. Meeting and learning from them was the highlight of my experience at the EU-NATO Seminar.
Throughout the week, we visited the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the EU Commission, European Parliament, NATO Headquarters, and the US Mission to the EU. At the EU Court of Justice, we met with staffers and an EU judge who happened to be a former Fulbrighter! They briefed us on the role of the court within the EU prior to us witnessing a live case hearing on asylum and family reunification procedures. Watching the court in action was fascinating, and growing to understand the judicial process within the EU was an excellent opportunity to better understand what I have learned throughout this year. After the court case, we had the honor of eating lunch with Koen Lenaerts, the President of the Court of Justice. My fellow Fulbrighters and I could not believe how lucky we were to enjoy this unique experience.
We also visited EU Commission and the European Parliament and learned about their roles within the EU. These were fascinating visits that taught us about the interactions between EU legislative bodies. We also visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels. There, we heard from North American foreign service officers who shared stories about their incredible careers in the field. We learned about the role that NATO plays in international relations and the importance of NATO in the relationship between the US and the EU. Conversations between our speakers and my fellow Fulbrighters were challenging and engaging, and seeing the intercontinental collaboration unfold in front of us was an enriching experience.
In addition to the fascinating visits and presentations, we had the opportunity to enjoy Luxembourg and Brussels. We enjoyed trying Brussels’s best Belgian fries and fresh waffles, exploring the city streets, and a lovely farewell dinner with the Fulbrighters and event organizers. I am very grateful to the Netherlands Fulbright Commission enough for selecting me to participate in this seminar.
It has been a highlight of my year in the Netherlands. I gained a greater appreciation for the critical relationship between the US and the EU/ NATO and for my role as an ambassador of the US this year. I am also incredibly grateful to Elisabeth Bloxam and Erica Lutes from the Fulbright Commission to Brussels and Luxembourg. They were welcoming and kind leaders throughout the entire seminar! Thank you for a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from distinguished professionals, visit fascinating institutions, and to connect with fellow Fulbrighters. It was a week I will never forget!