Fulbright Scholars Discuss Time in Africa Students from the United States head overseas every year as Fulbright scholars, and foreign students study in the United States. Recent participants in the program talk about spending a year studying in Africa.
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Fulbright Scholars Discuss Time in Africa

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Fulbright Scholars Discuss Time in Africa

Fulbright Scholars Discuss Time in Africa

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This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Since 9/11, more and more American students have been studying abroad. According to the institute of international education, the number increased by almost 20 percent between 2001 and 2003. American students have become particularly interested in the non English-speaking world. They're going to China, to India, and to the Middle East.

If you've done it, you know. Living abroad can be a life-changing experience. It's a chance for an inside peak at another culture, to find new friends, learn different social rules, to see their country, your country, and yourself through new eyes. People to people exchanges also help to humanize America and Americans in parts of the world where U.S. foreign policy may not be too popular.

For 60 years now, the Fulbright program has sent U.S. students abroad. And, brought foreign students to study in the U.S.. The goal is mutual understanding. Recently, a group of students and scholars returned from sub-Saharan Africa where they were working on a variety of projects. Today, we'll speak with a few of them about what it was like, what they learned, and how it's changed the way they look at the world.

Later in the program, Manager Ozzie Guillen of the World Champion Chicago White Sox unleashes a string of insults, profanity, and a hateful slur in a feud with a sports columnist.

But first, if you've ever lived abroad, how did it change you? Is there one particularly memory that shifted your thinking? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255, that's 800-989-TALK. E-mail us, Talk@npr.org. And were joined here in Studio 3A by a number of Fulbright Scholars. And let's start with Dan Hoyle, who was in Nigeria in 2004 and 2005 where he started oil politics and community organizing. Nice to have you on the program today, Dan.

MR. DAN HOYLE (Fulbright Scholar): Thanks very much, nice to be here.

CONAN: Where are you from?

Mr. HOYLE: San Francisco.

CONAN: And it must have been pretty different to go to the land in Nigeria?

Mr. HOYLE: Yes, San Francisco people are mostly worried about getting fresh produce. In Nigeria, they are trying to get down the street without getting into an argument. So...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Did you have any idea of what to expect before you left?

Mr. HOYLE: No, but I often tell people they should go to a very busy neighborhood next to a birdcage and an exhaust pipe. And that will give you an idea of what Port Harcourt would be like for your first couple of weeks.

CONAN: And Port - that was where you were?

Mr. HOYLE: Yes, Port Harcourt is the oil capital of Nigeria. Of course, one of the most chaotic places - you've got everyone trying to get a piece of the oil well. Everyone from the actual oil workers to the touts, and of course, then the militants now, who you've been hearing about in the news.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. HOYLE: And I hung out with them in the creeks, I spent time in the ex-pat bars singing karaoke and trying to get news off of the oil workers. And also plenty times on buses and bush taxis, talking to everyone I could.

CONAN: So what was your daily routine like?

Mr. HOYLE: Walk outside, walk down - I was the only student, only white student at University of Port Harcourt, about 30,000 students. So, walk outside and everyone, oyinbo, oyinbo, oyinbo. How you do now? You know, they speak pidgin English there. So I have to make my way just to the gate, while not getting bombarded by people. Say yah, yah I do fine, (speaking foreign language) just to get down the street.

Mr. HOYLE: Then, once you get into the city, you go to a interview, there'll probably will be a huge traffic jam. Police checkpoints - as long as you joke with them, you're okay. Or I take off, go down a creek, to a village that's across the creek from a huge oil installation. And so the guys are telling me war stories on one side. And I see helicopters coming in and out of the oil installation on the other side.

CONAN: Pretty crazy place.

Mr. HOYLE: Yes, it was exhilarating, amazing, and has changed me incredibly.

CONAN: Well, what have you learned about yourself?

Mr. HOYLE: I've learned that, I do like a cup of tea in the morning. I do like the newspaper, air conditioning is important. More than that, I've think I've learned that you have to really listen to people. You have to constantly humble yourself. I listen to recordings, interviews I had from before, and I'm always finding out new things that people were trying to tell me. But, you know, people will speak in riddles. And maybe they'll try to make you work to understand what they are trying to tell you.

CONAN: We're talking with recently returned Fulbright Scholars. And if you'd like to join the conversation, our number is 800-989-8255, 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is Talk@npr.org.

CONAN: And now lets talk with Fidel(ph). Fidel speaking with us from Toledo, Ohio.

FIDEL (Caller): Good afternoon, Neal.

CONAN: Good afternoon.

FIDEL: I love your show.

CONAN: Thank you.

FIDEL: I have a quick comment. Actually, I'm from the opposite of this program. I'm an International student from Saudi Arabia, and I've been here for - I don't know, six years probably. I've just graduated from the student program here at the medical university. Hello?

CONAN: Yes. And you'll planning to head home soon?

FIDEL: Yes, actually I'm leaving in four days. I just talked to my advisor in Ohio State. To say goodbye.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And, what have you learned - obviously, you've learned a great deal in your time here.

FIDEL: Oh yes! See, I'm Muslim. My advisor was Jewish. My, you know, co-workers were Catholic, Indians, Chinese - so the number one thing I learned from this six-year experience is you can be different from people, and yet, you still can be a friend. And you can interact with them easily. That's - I think the number one lesson even before - number two is lung cancer prevention, which is my field.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Two quick, quick questions. What are you going to look forward to most when you get back home to Saudi Arabia?

FIDEL: First, I'm really very excited that I will serve my country, serve Arabia in the field I got training education. Secondly, I'll be, you know, telling people that, you know, you have different kind of people that you may interact with. They may think in a different way, than where you think. Yet, you can again live with them in a very peaceful way.

CONAN: So...

FIDEL: I think that is a very important thing, I believe.

CONAN: Yes, and I think that answered my second question, was if the goal was mutual understanding, it sounds like it worked.


CONAN: Yes. Fidel, thanks very much appreciate it.

FIDEL: Thank you very much, bye bye.

CONAN: And Dan Hoyle, it sounds like he's echoing some of things you learned.

Mr. HOYLE: Yes, also one of the things that's interesting to me is, learning how people communicate in a different culture. There's a couple levels of that. One thing, in the Niger Delta, there's a lot of deception going on. Like I said, it's like the frontier. It's a little bit like the Wild, Wild, West - except it's oil, not gold.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. HOYLE: So you have to learn to be able to be comfortable with someone while not really trusting them. So somebody will tell me, why are you trusting me? We only trust now God. Don't trust me, I have no friends. And so you have to learn to just say, okay, we just spent the night together, you just took me around to another village, but you're telling me don't trust me because the temptation is too high.

Now, in the U.S., we go - we need these absolutes, we hold on to these absolutes. And there isn't the privilege of that. The other thing of communication, of course, is the way people talk, and that's a joy. I mean, like I said, the Nigerian pidgin English is poetry...

CONAN: Yeah, sounds like...

Mr. HOYLE: ...and...

CONAN: ...you enjoyed it quite a bit.

Mr. HOYLE: Oh yeah, I can't get enough of it.

CONAN: Let's bring another voice into the conversation: Sophie Beal, another Fulbright U.S. student fellow from the 2004-2005 class. She studied empowerment through fiction in the work of Mia Coutu in Mozambique. She's with us here also in Studio 3A. I hope I pronounced that close to being right.

Ms. SOPHIE BEAL (Fulbright U.S. Student Fellow, 2004-2005): Near close to really close, Neal...

CONAN: Okay, good.

Ms. BEAL: ...thank you.

CONAN: How did you decide to study this author's fiction in Mozambique?

Ms. BEAL: When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. BEAL: ...and I started to become interested in Portuguese-speaking Africa. They speak Portuguese in Mozambique and Cape Verde, Angola, and Guinea Bissau. And I was having - I was just curious about who the fiction writers were and really surprised at how hard it was to find their fiction in Brazil.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. BEAL: And there wasn't - when I was there in Brazil in 2003 - much fiction available. But I did find a novel called Sleepwalking Earth, Terra Sonambula, by Mia Coutu, an author who is about 50 years old who lives in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

And I absolutely fell in love with this phantasmagorical story of a 17-year civil war and coming out of it in 1992, the story between a very young boy and an old man who have - to some extent - lost their memories and lost their families and villages, and they're walking through...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. BEAL: ...the sleepwalking earth, trying to wake it up, trying to arouse their memories, trying to recreate a hope and a sense of humanity after so much violence. And I fell in love with this novel, and I wrote a letter to the author telling him how much I liked it. And then, about six months later, it dawned on me, wow, maybe I could make a project out of this. Maybe my love for this novel could turn into a larger research project.

And I wrote him back and said, listen, can you write me a...

CONAN: Recommendation?

Ms. BEAL: ...a recommendation for the Fulbright Program, which is how (unintelligible).

CONAN: Yeah, he didn't make up this 17-year war. That happened, and things could be pretty tough, as I suspect you found out, in Mozambique.

Ms. BEAL: Definitely. And one of the most incredible things was seeing how much people gain from telling their stories, and how much people want to tell their stories. And giving people a venue to explain their life story and where they come from and their experiences during the war and after the war and making up, you know, a meaningful life for themselves. And Mozambique was really powerful.

CONAN: Was it important to them, do you think, that you were there to listen?

Ms. BEAL: I think it was. I mean, once they got over the initial - is she in the CIA? Who is this woman? Why does she speak Portuguese? Why is she studying literature? We don't know anything about our own literature. I mean, many people have not had the opportunity to read the poetry and short stories and novels that are coming out of their own country...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. BEAL: ...although Mozambicans have a wonderful tradition of memorizing the poetry from their own nation. And there are many, many poetry readings in which people read famous poems by Jose Craveirinha and other poets from Mozambique allowed. But yeah, I think people were excited that somebody from afar was interested.

CONAN: We're going to have to take a short break and take more of your calls when we get back. If you'd like to join the conversation about living and studying abroad, our number is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. And our e-mail address is talk@npr.org.

I'm Neal Conan, we'll be back after the break. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking with U.S. Fulbright scholars just back from a year in Sub-Saharan Africa about what they've learned. And a little later, a Fulbright scholar from Pakistan who's studying here in the U.S. about his perceptions of America and how they may have changed since arrival.

Our guests are Dan Hoyle and Sophie Beal, both Fulbright U.S. student fellows during 2004 and 2005. Of course, you're invited to join us. If you've lived overseas, how did the experience change you? 800-989-8255, e-mail talk@npr.org. And let's get a caller on the line. This is Eric(ph), Eric's calling from Viola, or is it Viola in Illinois?

ERIC (Caller): It would be Viola.

CONAN: Viola, okay.

ERIC: Yes, the two things that I found - I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and East Africa from 2000 to 2002. And probably the two most significant impacts on my life that I've seen since then is one, my listening to any sort of a political speech or public address by - during elections - and hearing the term American interests. I can never hear that phrase and have the same feelings about just what are American interests.

I was raised thinking, you know, this is being peaceful, this is being helpful. And living in a place that, to some extent, was outside of American interests - a place where, you know, some simple push from, you know, positive aspects of my values, of my interests, you know, could make such a great difference if it was our country implying these American interests. But we were living outside of American interests and so, therefore, it was kind of like, oh...

CONAN: And the other one, Eric?

ERIC: The other one was, I guess perceptions of my own country and my own culture. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm fairly critical of the present administration and the way a lot of aspects of American politics have been going the last several years. But, doggone, to know that when I pay my taxes, I'm going to be able to switch on my light switch. That if there's a pothole in the street in front of my house, it's probably going to be fixed within six months, maybe a year...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

ERIC: ...and that no matter what I can get on the highway and I can drive and drive and drive.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ERIC: And, you know, this - just the aspects of infrastructure that we take for granted. Any time there's a referendum for taxes - a new tax - I'm like heck yeah, I'll pay my taxes because look at what it gets me. And in Kenya, I was living on a road that 20 years ago, it was paved on paper, did it ever really get paved? Not unless you count large boulders the size of a head.

CONAN: I wondered if any of that resonates with our Fulbright scholars here in the studio. What about you, Sophie Beal?

Ms. BEAL: Definitely. I went to Mozambique prepared to be aware of HIV...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Ms. BEAL: ...and the number of people that were affected with HIV. But I was not prepared for the number of people in my kind of circle who had suffered from major road accidents.

CONAN: It's just...

Ms. BEAL: That was a bigger shock to me.

CONAN: ...a huge story in Africa isn't it? Yeah. Eric, thanks very much for the phone call.

ERIC: Thank you, Neal, it's been a great day.

CONAN: Okay, bye bye.

And, Dan Hoyle, let me ask you. Obviously, Nigeria very much in that definition of American interests as a major oil exporter. And, of course, you saw a lot of the political tension going on over the oil industry.

Mr. HOYLE: Yeah, it's interesting. So many people would always be asking me, what can you do for me? What can you do for me? And I would try to tell people in the villages - it's a very cynical thing to say, but there are many, many villages all over Africa, there are people that are poor as you. And the only reason, on a certain level, you're getting the attention you are is because you're across a creek from a Chevron flow station.

There are stories in Africa that get very little press because there is no window through which the international community can look at it. It's also very interesting to see how the international community changes the way people perceive it on the ground.

CONAN: The Fulbright Program also sends American academics: professors, associate professors, and college instructors for research and educational experiences abroad. One of them, Cliff Missen, was a Fulbright scholar to Nigeria in the 1998 and '99 school year. He's a systems analyst and adjunct instructor at the University of Iowa. He's also with us here in Studio 3A. Good of you to be with us today.

Mr. CLIFF MISSEN (Fulbright Scholar): Thank you, Neal. Pleasure to be here.

CONAN: And were you in the same part of Nigeria, or a different part than where Dan was?

Mr. MISSEN: Well, I was stationed in the University of Jos up in central Nigeria, but I wound up touring all over the country to visit universities around he country...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. MISSEN: So I got a larger picture view.

CONAN: Yeah. And you'd, I understand, been to Africa many times before you went on this particular visit. How was this experience different?

Mr. MISSEN: This, for me, is the first time to be any university working in my milieu, working with - training young people around computers. You know, there's a vast difference between the way we think about teaching here and they teach there. The first time I offered a course, it was with only other professors in the course who wanted to learn computers.

CONAN: So you're teaching teachers.

Mr. MISSEN: Yeah. And the first time I gave a midterm exam, we spent two hours talking about the exam. We didn't cover a single question. They wanted to know how I could measure their progress using multiple choice questions and fill in the blank. Yeah, so...

CONAN: Hate it when the students challenge the teacher, don't you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MISSEN: Absolutely. Nothing like teaching Ph.D.'s.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MISSEN: Yeah. So, yeah, just to get a sense for the different ways and the different ways, the different styles of teaching and...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. MISSEN: ...we think of, well, they're curious. Let's send some Internet over there, let's send some computers. And the larger issue is how, you know, these are hugely growing countries, and they're only - you know, three to four percent of the students who are eligible to go to college go to college. And how are they going to grow these systems so they can get, you know, larger numbers into universities? Huge challenges.

CONAN: Well, unlike our younger students here, you also took your family overseas. You had your wife and two children. How did they adjust to this?

Mr. MISSEN: We had a wonderful time, absolutely wonderful. And, you know, we left with this sort of fear of, you know, the kids might not appreciate Africa. They were 5 and 7 at the time. And, you know, worried that it could be a really long, uncomfortable year. But the day we arrived, we arrived in this busload of computers that we'd taken with us...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. MISSEN: ...and we arrived at our house, the kids bounded off of the bus, they found some neighborhood kids. They scrambled up the first tree they found, and then they disappeared for two hours.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MISSEN: We didn't see them for the rest of the afternoon. And, you know, that phrase about, you know, it takes a village to raise a child. That's really true in Africa. And we understood immediately, from everybody around us, that we didn't have to worry about our kids.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. MISSEN: They just took off. A few hours later, they showed up, they were exhausted. They were hungry, they were happy. And they sat down at our candlelit dinner, because the electricity had gone off that day and - with all the bugs and the birds and everything around them - and said, this is just like home.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Just like Iowa, I'm sure.

Mr. MISSEN: Yeah.

CONAN: And let's get another caller on the line. This is Nicole(ph). Nicole's with us from Boise, Idaho.

NICOLE (Caller): Hi, I was planning on going to India in November, and I was just wondering if the guests had any advice as far as like daily life and...

CONAN: Mm hmm.

NICOLE: ...how to interact with the people there.

CONAN: Any broad principles? Obviously, India is a bit different from Mozambique, Sophie.

Ms. BEAL: Say yes to everything - every invitation, everyone you meet, you know, take the opportunity to invite them to where you're staying, to see where they live, to - any invitation you get, say yes.

CONAN: Well, what advice might you have, Dan?

Mr. HOYLE: You have to flow. You have to enjoy yourself. And then, people will see you're enjoying yourself and they will want to show you more about their culture. If you seemed scared and uncomfortable, they'll think, ah, this person's not really worth it. But if you really want to go there, I think they will take you there.

CONAN: Did you - let me ask you both, and I think this relates to what Nicole's asking about, too - did you see yourselves, in some way, as ambassadors from the United States? Dan?

Mr. HOYLE: Sure, being the fact that I was pretty much the only person of my age group from the United States there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOYLE: You know, people would associate me more as white - oyinbo man, which is white man - so I don't know if they would necessarily say, oh, he's a British or an American guy.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Mr. HOYLE: But yeah, definitely. And the way that you be an ambassador, I think, is be a curious, humble, likable person, you know, politics aside.

CONAN: That sound right, Sophie?

Ms. BEAL: Sounds good, exactly right.

CONAN: All right. Nicole, and when do you plan to go, November?


CONAN: Well, have a great time.

NICOLE: Thanks a lot.

CONAN: Good luck.

NICOLE: Okay, bye.

CONAN: The Fulbright Program also sponsors foreign students to come and study here in the U.S. The goal is the same, to foster mutual understanding and exchange. Zeeshan Al-Hassan Usmani is a Fulbright scholar from Pakistan. He's currently completing a Master's at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. And he joins us now from the studios of member station WUCF in Orlando, Florida. And it's good to have you on the program today.

Mr. ZEESHAN AL-HASSAN USMANI (Fulbright Scholar): Thank you very much.

CONAN: And there's a paper you've written that describes your decision to apply for the Fulbright scholarship and the interview that you had there, and your view. One of the questions that you were asked in that interview was, do you hate the United States? A question that might be asked of anybody from Pakistan.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah, that was true. And the question was based on my remarks about the U.S.A. Before I came to the U.S.A., I had very negative remarks about the U.S.A., and it is because of what I got from my media and from my culture.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. And you answered no in that interview, you didn't hate the United States, but I think you added an addendum.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah. And I said, I have no reasons to love it.

CONAN: Hmm. And then your impressions began to change as you learned more about this country you were heading to. You described it initially as the land of prejudice. How come?

Mr. USMANI: Yeah. Actually, this is what I got from my teachers in this school. This is what I got from my media. This is what I got from my culture. And when I came to the United States, my father's definition was the land of prejudice, nudity and drunken people.


Mr. USMANI: And it was from that definition to the definition of the land of justice, rules and friendship.

CONAN: And what happened over time to make you adjust those definitions?

Mr. USMANI: Actually, I wasn't open enough to discard my previous beliefs, so it took me quite a time, like one year, to change my definitions. So when I got here, I was having like really bad definitions about America, the U.S.A. and its people.

But when I see the rules, the justice, there is a core ingredient in your society. You are lucky enough to have this core ingredient in your society, which we don't have. The American society respects everybody, regardless of their age, sex, religion, marital or social status. And it is not true in society in Pakistan.

So when I see there is a rule, there is a justice, nobody's deprived for nothing because of their categorical status. So I said oh, this is what Islam says, and maybe the Koran is kind of like the only scripture for us. But U.S. people are knowingly following it, there are all of these good things, deeds which are in Islam, which Muslims should follow, are followed by U.S. by people. So what's wrong with them? So then I changed my definitions.

CONAN: You also write, and we hope you do understand that America is hardly perfect, but you do write that one of the things you learned from America is that people are generally honest and don't lie, even about small things.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah. And it's kind of like shocking for me because in my culture, most of the time, people say a couple of things which we don't mean. And it's not true in the United States. What a person is saying, they are so straightforward.

CONAN: Hmm. There are also differences. I think people can tell a bit from your accent that you grew up learning British English and not American English. And also that there were words that confused you. For example, when you first arrived there in Florida, the word hurricane.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah. Hurricane means lantern in my hometown.

CONAN: Lantern?

Mr. USMANI: Yeah, lantern.

CONAN: Like a light.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. USMANI: So I thought it should be a kind of like candlelight dinner or something like a festival where you light up candles.

CONAN: No, it's a festival where we blow out lights.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: When did you have your first hurricane experience?

Mr. USMANI: In 2004, like I guess that was Hurricane Jeanne and then Ivan and then Frances. Three major hurricanes in a year.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. You're going to have some things to talk about when you get back to Pakistan.

Mr. USMANI: Yeah.

CONAN: And when are you heading back?

Mr. USMANI: Actually, I just recently visited Pakistan in January.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. USMANI: So, I (unintelligible) things in a couple of my media interviews, in radio interviews, and with a couple of people.

CONAN: Hmm. Interesting. And if you have children, and the opportunity comes for them to study abroad later on, would you recommend it?

Mr. USMANI: Yeah, highly. I strongly recommend everybody on this planet Earth to come at least once to U.S.A. to see their culture, to see its people, and get very good education from here.

CONAN: Yeah. Cliff Missen?

Mr. MISSEN: Yeah, well, you know, I just wanted to add that, you know, that this business about doing the person-to-person exchange I think is really important. In Nigeria I found that people were used to people showing up for commercial, diplomatic, or military purposes and they tend to stay in high-priced hotels and hang out in the same karaoke bars with each other and whatever and don't really get into the local community, and what the local community might feel is the impact of the kinds of decisions those people are making.

But to counterbalance that, virtually everywhere I travel, people have stories to tell about educators and missionaries and others who came and they go by the thousands every year from America, and they represent a different form of America. What I find in, you know, even when I travel to the most conservative Muslim areas, people might say, oh, they hate America, well, across the board they hate American foreign policy, but they have enough Americans around them demonstrating a lot of these unique American qualities that they can make a distinction between American people and American foreign policy.

CONAN: We're talking with current and former Fulbright scholars about their experiences. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get another caller on the line. And this is Cynthia. Cynthia calling us from Layton in Utah.

CYNTHIA (Caller): Hello. Thank you for having me on the show. I'm very excited about this and this is a subject I'm very, very passionate about. Just listening to the last caller, and how Americans are perceived: I grew up in Central America and Costa Rica when I was a teenager, and was there in Costa Rica during the Nicaraguan revolution, and Nicaragua is, you know, the country right next door to Costa Rica.

And my father was very passionate about showing up - taking us to places that probably most parents wouldn't. And there were six kids, there were six of us. And I found the people to be very loving and maybe politically not enjoying - maybe politically not liking Americans, but when you go into their little grass huts or whatever they adored you.

But something that is odd, and I haven't been able to figure out with this experience - living abroad for so many years - is I always felt invincible as an American, that I was untouchable, that I could - while visiting Nicaragua right after the revolution, sneak up to the P.O.W. camp and I would be safe, that nothing would happen to me.

And I don't know if that is part of being a teenager or that as an American I felt I was invincible because, you know, I was in a Third World country. It was an interesting - looking back, it's an interesting feeling I had.

CONAN: Sophie Beal, did you have a feeling of invincibility?

Ms. BEAL: No. I felt - I didn't feel invincible. I felt like there were networks that were there to help me at my - the Fulbright's funded by the State Department, I knew that I could...

CONAN: Ask for help if you needed it.

Ms. BEAL: Ask for help if I needed it. But no, I felt like I was in a position of privilege. As a white woman going into an office, I was oftentimes more likely to receive help or be able to speak to the person I was there to speak to, because of my gender and race often. And I was aware of that as a privilege and kind of a door opener in many situations.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. But necessarily that it was going to protect you in any profound way.

Ms. BEAL: No.

CONAN: Anyway, Cynthia, thank you very much for the call. It's quite interesting.


CONAN: Appreciate it. We're going to take a short break and when we come back we'll talk more about changing perceptions and living abroad. And, plus, a string of vulgar insults and an inflammatory slur directed at a Chicago sportswriter from a World Series champion manager. I'm Neal Conan. We'll be back after the break. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. And here are the headlines from some of the other stories we are following here today at NPR News. The Senate has voted down two Democratic proposals that would have started the process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. One called for all combat troops to be pulled out by July 2007. The other called for a pullout, but without a deadline.

And the Supreme Court today ruled that a company does have to pay damages to a female worker who was retaliated against after she lodged a sex discrimination complaint. A lower court had rejected her claim of discrimination, but found that she had been a victim of retaliation. Details on those stories and, of course, much more later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Tomorrow on TALK OF THE NATION it's SCIENCE FRIDAY.. Ira Flatow will be here to talk about the latest news on stem cell therapy and human cloning. Plus, reversing Parkinson's in animals. That's all tomorrow on TALK OF THE NATION: SCIENCE FRIDAY.

In a few minutes, World Series champion White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's verbal bean ball in the form of an inflammatory slur aimed at a Chicago columnist. But first, we're going to continue our conversation with current and former Fulbright scholars.

Our guests are Dan Hoyle and Sophie Beal, just back from sub-Saharan Africa, he from Nigeria, she from Mozambique. Cliff Missen, who was a Fulbright scholar alumnus on a program, who was also in Nigeria. Still with us as well is Zeeshan Al-Hassan Usmani, a Pakistani and a Fulbright scholar currently studying in Florida.

And let's see if we can get another caller on the line. This is Mike. Mike calling us from Queens, New York.

MIKE (Caller): Yes, hello?

CONAN: Yes, Mike, you're on the air. Please go ahead.

MIKE: Yes. I just want to direct my question to Dan, the guy who (unintelligible).

Mr. HOYLE: Hello.

MIKE: Right. Just wanted to let you know that I'm very, very proud of you, that, you know, you are a very, very humble person. You know, the way you sound on the air. And I'd also like to ask, you know, what were your perceptions when before you left here to study in Nigeria? Did you like have a perception, you know, like for example, you say, like, you know, like in Africa, for example, in Nigeria people are starving, there are no good houses, there are no, you know. Usually you hear everything bad about Africa, as opposed to something, you know, like...

Mr. HOYLE: Mike, where are you from in Nigeria?

MIKE: Nigeria, I was born in Lagos.

Mr. HOYLE: Okay. You're (speaking foreign language) I think.

MIKE: Yeah.

Mr. HOYLE: (Speaking foreign language)

MIKE: (Speaking foreign language)

CONAN: Alright. Enough of that.

Mr. HOYLE: Sorry.

CONAN: Keep going.

Mr. HOYLE: Sorry. Well, I think, what's really interesting is that, like you said, Nigerians, I mean, they consider themselves to be - and I think are known as the giant of Africa.

MIKE: Exactly.

Mr. HOYLE: And people dress well. When my brother came to visit me, he brought all his - he called it his C-list clothes and got laughed at, because it was like walking down Uni Port's campus, everyone is just, you know, flossing, to use the term here in the States. And what is amazing, I think, is the fact that people still do have so much style, so much grace. I mean, people should go to Nigeria, I think, just to experience a 24 hour drama party. Because I don't know if you feel the way I do, but everyone has a plan - oh, boy, I get one scheme man, oh, man, I tell you something. Everyone is just grooving and moving and it's like being at an amazing non-stop cocktail party.

MIKE: Right, right, right.

Mr. HOYLE: So thank you.

MIKE: I'm very proud of you man. You sound just like a Nigerian. I really wouldn't believe you're from here when you were talking in the broken English.

Mr. HOYLE: Hey, my brother.

MIKE: Yeah.

Mr. HOYLE: We do. You know we do now.

MIKE: Yeah, now.

CONAN: Mike, thanks very much for the call.

MIKE: Thank you.

Mr. HOYLE: Thank you, Mike.

CONAN: Let me ask each of you, and you're experiences are obviously different, but what are you going to do with the experiences? What are you going to do with the knowledge that you've gained in your time overseas? And why don't we begin with Zeeshan Al-Hassan Usmani. When you go back to Pakistan, what are you going to bring back from the United States?

Mr. USMANI: Okay, when I go back to Pakistan, the first thing I want to do is to start with any position where I can change the people. This is a necessity of my nation nowadays. We need good politicians and good persons who can change perceptions about the rest of the world in their mind. (Unintelligible) I wrote a 160-page book in my native language, for Pakistani people, so they can learn and understand what U.S. means. Why we shouldn't hate USA. Because, like 95 percent of the population of Pakistan cannot read English, so there should be some literature in their language, from their own people who can tell them the truth. Because they are going to believe on me, because I am from them. So I'm going to teach them, and I'm going to change their minds about USA. (Unintelligible).

CONAN: Good luck with that. Thank you very much for being with us today.

Mr. USMANI: Thank you.

CONAN: Zeeshan Al-Hassan Usmani, a Fulbright Scholar and Student at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, with us from member station WUCF.

Dan, what are you going to do with all of those great accents you've managed to master?

Mr. HOYLE: Yeah, well, I'm actually an actor and a writer, so that was part of my goal; to go there and learn how people talk and move. And I have a show called Tings Dey Happen, which means Things Happen, in Pidgin English. And that's going to be opening up in San Francisco, in October.

CONAN: Well, good luck with that.

Mr. HOYLE: Thank you.

CONAN: What about you, Sophie Beal? You worked with this writer in Mozambique. What're you going to take back from that experience?

Ms. BEAL: Well, two things. One, I'm in a graduate program now studying Portuguese and Brazilian studies, and hopefully through my writing and research, I'll be able to expand the knowledge of the writing that is, the books that are being written in Mozambique. Because there's so much being written that isn't available outside of Mozambique and Portugal.

And second, I befriended many musicians while I was in Mozambique, and in March and April of 2006, Mozambican musicians Stewart Sukuma, a legend of his country, and Somito Mazine(ph), the keyboard player, also a legend, came and did a concert series in the northeastern U.S., which hopefully we will repeat next June. So it's an exciting project to be a part of.

CONAN: All right, good luck with that. We appreciate your time.

And Cliff Missen, I assume you will be - this will not be your last trip to Nigeria.

Mr. MISSEN: Well, actually I've been back to Nigeria about a dozen times between then and now. We've kind of gone over the top. We've founded a project called The Wider Net project, casting a wider net, and we've gone back, raised money to go back. We've trained over 3,000 people back in Nigeria and Ghana, and other parts of Africa, in how to set up computers and networks and that type of thing.

And on top of that we've developed, you know, seven out of eight people in the world don't have access to the Internet, and I was frustrated, as a teacher trying to teach without the Internet, when I was there. We've developed a little invention called the eGranary Digital Library for storing the seeds of knowledge. And what we've basically done is gone out and gotten permission from hundreds of authors and publishers of websites to replicate their websites. So we put them on a single hard drive, and for a few hundred dollars we deliver this collection of millions of web documents to over a hundred schools now, around Africa.

CONAN: you're bending my mind. So this is a virtual Internet?

Mr. MISSEN: It's an Internet in a box.

CONAN: How often does it refresh?

Mr. MISSEN: Well, however, you know, we've written an update mechanism so somebody can get it updated every day if they want, or if they can get updates on CDs once a month or once a year.

CONAN: Hmm. Interesting. Cliff Missen, thanks very much. Good luck with that.

Mr. MISSEN: You bet. Thanks.

CONAN: Cliff Missen, a Fulbright Scholars Program Alumnus and a Systems Analyst and Adjunct Instructor at the University of Iowa.

And our guests were all with us here in Studio 3A. Thanks to you all.

When we come back we'll be talking about Ozzie Guillen and the story of the sports columnist.

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