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Through the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, professionals from around the world are able to expand their education, occupational experience and leadership abilities through a 10-month stay at an American university, according to Leila Bradaschia, the director of the program at Penn State since 2008.

Former president Jimmy Carter started the program in 1978, naming it after the then-recently deceased American politician Hubert H. Humphrey, Bradaschia said.

Humphrey was known as a “longtime advocate of international cooperation and understanding,” according to the fellowship’s website.

Bradaschia said the fellows are not pursuing degrees but “professional development.”

The Fulbright Board accepts approximately 180 Humphrey fellows every year, Bradaschia said, and Penn State accepted 13 Humphrey fellows for 2021-22 academic year.

Bradaschia said Penn State only hosts Humphrey fellows in the College of Education, as opposed to other universities that may host fellows in several disciplines.

Humphrey fellows take Penn State classes and attend national conferences as well as various workshops, lectures and seminars, according to Bradaschia.

Bradaschia said Penn State fellows do a “professional affiliation,” similar to an internship, somewhere in State College or Centre County.

At the end of the academic year, the fellows do an additional six-week affiliation “anywhere in the United States,” Bradaschia said.

The second affiliation pairs a fellow with a colleague who “does the same kind of work [the fellows] do back at home,” Bradaschia said.

Humphrey fellows will also partake in cultural activities together, like Penn State sporting events and shows at Eisenhower Auditorium or The State Theatre.

Bradaschia said the fellowship organizes trips to places like New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Niagara Falls, New York.

Fellows are provided “community hosts” who “serve as another person in their network of support,” according to Bradaschia.

The goal of the program at Penn State is to “develop future leaders,” Bradaschia said, specifically for the field of education.

“We have people who are teachers, school principals, university administrators, people who are high up in their ministries of education, making [policies] that will affect their entire country,” Bradaschia said.

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Bradaschia said the program also teaches its participants to “partner internationally on solving problems that exist around the world.”

Nagwa Elnwishy, a Penn State Humphrey Fellow for 2021-22, teaches and does research in environmental science at Suez Canal University in Egypt. She is staying through fall 2022, she said.

Elnwishy said her goal is to “include sustainability within the undergraduate and postgraduate programs and also in research.”

Receiving her doctorate degree in marine biology, Elnwishy said she was required to study marine life around Egypt.

However, she said she became more interested in the “bigger picture,” which includes climate change and damage to marine ecosystems caused by human activity.

For example, Elnwishy said warming ocean temperatures are disturbing the coral reefs of the Red Sea.

The decline of the coral reefs has in turn led to a “big depletion of the population of very precious aquatic environments,” Elnwishy said.

Additionally, Elnwishy said industrial waste, from the pharmaceutical industry for example, also harms Egyptian fish and other marine life.

When people subsequently eat the same fish, the pollution comes back to hurt them, Elnwishy said.

Elnwishy would always highlight issues like these in her courses, but she said she thought “it should not just be in [her] courses, it should be more.”

She said she then set a goal to convince her university to have a focus on sustainability “across the university,” in all of the courses and all research.

Elnwishy said she is using the Humphrey Fellowship to help design curricula focused on sustainability for Suez Canal University.

She did her professional affiliation at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, which she described as “very inspiring.”

“[The Sustainability Institute does] everything I was always thinking of,” Elnwishy said.

Elnwishy said via email that she has been working on “dynamic engagement projects” with colleagues at the Sustainability Institute.

Elnwishy extended her fellowship because she said she wanted to follow the progress of her ongoing projects at the institute.

“I think I became greedy,” Elnwishy said. “I loved what I did, so I said ‘No, 10 months is not enough. Let me do more.’”

Elnwishy also said she wanted time to travel to more American universities to talk about sustainability.

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She said she applied for the Humphrey Fellowship to learn how to spread her message of sustainability across a university.

Aside from students studying renewable energy and renewable agriculture, Suez Canal University students don’t hear much about sustainability, Elnwishy said.

“[Suez Canal University has] the slogan of sustainability and sustainable development available, but it sounds like a vague word to students because they don’t know how to relate this to whatever they are studying,” Elnwishy said.

Elnwishy said Egypt as a country is committed to sustainability. However, she said this effort is “not well organized,” especially within the country’s higher education.

Elnwishy said her goal is to create a “clear plan” for sustainability that addresses all of the different sectors of the school.

Elnwishy said her hope is that sustainability can be more “applied” after about 10 years, once “different generations” of students graduate with a broader understanding of the concept.

Elnwishy also said she likes how “flexible” the Humphrey Fellowship is.

“You have a project you came with. Here’s Penn State. Move around. This is the United States of America,” Elnwishy said. “Move around in all the states and all the universities. Meet people in the same sector or in different sectors so that you can see different perspectives. There is no limit.”

When Elnwishy struggled with finding people to connect with, she said the program’s coordinators were always there to link her with the right people.

She took higher education administration classes at Penn State, she said, in order to understand how to “persuade” Suez Canal University’s management to include more sustainability in its curricula.

Elnwishy said she enjoyed traveling around America, from California to Washington, D.C., both to visit other universities and to learn about American history and culture.

Many online conferences with experts from around the country also gave Elnwishy the opportunity to exchange different ideas and perspectives and to build networks.

Elnwishy said building these networks allows for chances to explain the different problems that Egypt and America face regarding sustainability and opens the possibility of future collaboration.

“Great opportunities can come out of the differences,” Elnwishy said.

Elnwishy also appreciated the diversity of the fellows, she said.

Every fellow came from a different country and culture. The one thing that bonded them together was education, she said.

“We had a great time exchanging information about how to address education from different perspectives and in different majors,” Elnwishy said.

Star Campbell, a State College resident, said she has been a community host of the Humphrey Program for 20 years.

Campbell said she has hosted 22 fellows, and there were some years when the Humphrey Program had her host multiple fellows because there was a shortage of families.

Being a host family is “wonderful,” Campbell said, because she gets to experience another culture.

“One of the best parts is showing our amazing community to them,” Campbell said.

Campbell said her husband, Mike Hottenstein, teaches the fellows to make apple pie.

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“[The Humphrey fellows] love that,” Campbell said.

The fellows don’t live with the community hosts, Campbell said. They will often live at White Course Graduate and Family Apartments or at an apartment off campus.

Campbell said host families act as “support systems” for Humphrey fellows.

Due to Humphrey fellows’ full schedules, planning time with them can be difficult, Campbell said.

However, once every one to two weeks, Campbell will take the fellows to volunteer.

Last year, Campbell said she took them to volunteer at the YMCA of Centre County’s Anti-Hunger Program.

Campbell is also an American Red Cross volunteer and will often help the Humphrey fellows get involved, she said.

Campbell makes a goal to get the fellows out of State College, taking them to Philipsburg, Bellefonte and Belleville, Pennsylvania.

Last year, Campbell took her Peruvian fellow to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, because the fellow grew up watching the film “Groundhog Day.”

“[The Humphrey fellow] didn’t know [Punxsutawney] was a real thing,” Campbell said. “She just thought it was a movie.”

Campbell said she takes the fellows to visit her two uncles who work in Juniper Village at Brookline Senior Living to “see what a nursing home looks like.”

Campbell and Hottenstein have traveled to Laos and Vietnam to visit some of their former fellows, Campbell said.

Elnwishy said via email that her hosts were “one of [her] main channels to know about the American culture” as well.

Vuyokazi Jamieson, another Humphrey fellow from 2021-22, is the head librarian at St. Andrew’s College in South Africa.

Jamieson is currently creating a nonprofit called Project21 that aims to encourage literacy in South Africa.

“Because of the race divisions that were there before and the physical divisions… other people aren’t able to access knowledge the same way as other people can,” Jamieson said.

Project21 looks to solve illiteracy in the country by providing books, starting book clubs, renovating libraries and training librarians, Jamieson said.

Jamieson said the Humphrey Fellowship helped her elevate Project21’s platform by connecting her with top professionals and organizations in her field.

“I wanted to team up with key people, role players in literacy,” Jamieson said.

Jamieson said she chose to do her local affiliation at Schlow Centre Region Library, which she described as “one of a kind.”

Public libraries in South Africa are not as “functional” as in America, Jamieson said, because the government controls them.

“[The South African government] doesn’t really know what goes on in libraries,” Jamieson said.

Jamieson said a public library needs to “take care of the needs of the school children.”

Schlow understands this, Jamieson said, as the Schlow librarians know the children in the State College Area School District.

“It’s a collaboration, and it’s showing [the SCASD school children] that there’s something much bigger than just this school building,” Jamieson said. “They can do research at Schlow [Centre Region] Library.”

The Humphrey Fellowship gives fellows a certain amount of funds to travel for conferences, Jamieson said.

She said she used some of these funds to travel to Utah for an American Library Association conference and to Florida for the Future of Education Technology Conference.

Jamieson said she liked her host family because they had many common interests they were able to bond over, like running and music.

“I was able to slot in and be able to enjoy culture with them,” Jamieson said.

Jamieson said eating Thanksgiving dinner with her hosts’ large extended family was “quite important for [her] to experience.”

The fact that “you can design your own program” was something Jamieson also appreciated, she said.

She said she used her educational psychology research class to do a research proposal for her doctorate, which will focus on the connection of students’ engagement with book clubs to their academic success.

The Humphrey Fellowship was a year out of Jamieson’s “comfort zone.” She said it “required courage.”

Jamieson said she came to America to “take something back to South Africa.”

Because Jamieson was able to raise money for her nonprofit, she said she felt she was able to return to South Africa “with something much more concrete.”

Jamieson said the Humphrey Program has “completed the puzzle,” of her academic career.

“Each time it was difficult, and I wanted to give up, I would always think, ‘What about [my students]?’”

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