When we first established the DDGC mutual aid group, we committed to publishing an anonymized aid log that details the ways we have been able to build a collective and support one another in various ways. We share this information both to encourage transparency in how we function as a mutual aid community and to highlight the many areas affected by, for example, contingency or lack of mentorship and support in German Studies.
Today, we are publishing the first iteration of the mutual aid log to share data from our first year as a mutual aid group.
Resource requests have included manuscript editing, helping to connect Directors of Graduate Studies, project brainstorming, networking, and connecting individuals with housing resources.
July 2021-July 2022 Aid Report
Total requests fulfilled: 22
Resource requests fulfilled: 7
Financial requests fulfilled: 15
Total monetary funds given: $3,210
Average financial request: $170
If you would like to participate in our mutual aid group, please fill out this form, which allows you to both offer aid. You may update your form at any time. You can also click here to offer monetary support, including recurring donations.
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You can contribute to our funding pool through PayPal here.
Fulbright Noir is a platform and community that aims to increase representation within the Fulbright Program by featuring the work of and creating a network of Black Fulbrighters. Fulbright Noir is a member of the Fulbright Diversity Collective (FDC), an initiative that now includes several groups that serve, advocate for and bring attention to the diverse community of Fulbrighters. The Executive Board of Fulbright Noir generously agreed to an interview to share more details about the groups’ inception, its primary goals and ways to support the organization. To learn more about Fulbright Noir, please visit their Instagram page, and explore other member organizations of the FDC on the Partner Organizations’ site.
1. Why was Fulbright Noir formed? What are its main goals?
Fulbright Noir was created and founded in 2017 by Chiamaka Ukachukwu, Desiree Daring, Hannah Menelas, and Sonita Moss. The four Inaugural Fulbright Noir Board members came together across three countries to address a need that was not yet fulfilled in the formalized structure of Fulbright: a space for Black grantees. We are committed to creating a supportive community for Black Fulbrighters and focus on the professional and personal growth of prospective, current, and alumni Black Fulbrighters. We do this through creating, collaborating and sharing resources to support Black Fulbrighters as they navigate their unique experiences abroad as Black cultural ambassadors. We also expand our networks through mentorship, social activities and professional development opportunities, such as conferences and workshops.
2. Has Fulbright Noir changed from its inception? If yes, in what ways?
In 2020, the Board expanded to seven positions, including Events, Fundraising, Communications and Outreach, Logistics, and Social Media. These positions are open to current and former grantees who showed engagement in the community and held Fulbright Noir’s goals to heart. The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately shifted programming to an entirely remote format, making it difficult for Fulbright Noir to hold in-person conferences and events. Our Board members were also located across the U.S. and Europe, which was a positive and a negative!
3. How do you reach students/individuals already interested in pursuing a Fulbright? Do you also conduct forms of outreach to find individuals who may not have Fulbright on their horizon but would be great candidates?
We have multiple forms of outreach for prospective applicants. Many people find us through word of mouth or other Fulbright affinity groups, and reach out with their questions via social media and email. We also engage with college and university fellowship offices to conduct webinars on Fulbright Noir’s mission and initiatives, which brings more awareness to our organization and highlights various grant experiences. In our engagement with the Fulbright Association, we join Fulbright in the Classroom initiatives, which are presentations for elementary to high school students on the importance of travel, global education, and cultural awareness. Finally, we have direct communication with our specific Fulbright coalitions, dependent on our grants. Our current Board represents alumnx from Germany, the Netherlands, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, and Colombia, so we meet with grantees during the application process who have questions specific to these countries. If we don’t have expertise in their field, we share an open call for alumnx to volunteer their insights or share our global alumnx database of Black grantees from across the world.
4. In what way(s) does Fulbright Noir support and connect current and alumni Fulbrighters?
Fulbright Noir hosts and joins panels with Fulbright alumnx and current grantees on professional development opportunities, research areas, and advancement of diversity in the Fulbright Program. These events are key for having the Board connect with a full-range of Fulbrighters, but also for them to connect with one another. Attendees can gain insight into all the opportunities the Fulbright program has to offer, during and after their grants.
Our Genesis Conference in Spring 2019 was held in Brussels, Belgium, and brought together Black grantees completing grants in Europe together for the first time. As Fulbright Noir’s first large gathering, Genesis was an open space for Fulbrighters to discuss their challenges, interests, and aspects of daily life as Black teachers and researchers in Europe. There were large disparities between Western and Eastern Europe, which is something attendees may not have considered without having the space and community to share their experiences. We hope to have more in-person gatherings like Genesis in the future, especially given the changes the Fulbright program has undergone during the pandemic.
5. As current board members, what drew you to serve on the board? What has been most rewarding, surprising, challenging?
A number of current Board members had the opportunity to participate in Genesis and learn about Fulbright Noir, meet the founders, and network with Fulbrighters across Europe. Others wanted to give back to other Black prospective applicants who had questions on how to navigate the application process and the specific structures of the program in different countries.
While the work is enriching, it is difficult to keep the momentum of a movement and organization going in a remote context. All of our Board members are either full-time workers or students in Master’s and PhD programs, so time management becomes very difficult when there are pauses in events and outreach. Not only are we serving in an unpaid volunteer capacity, but we also have limited forms of income for the organization, which can inhibit some planning of our future endeavors. Despite all of this, we are all very loyal to the mission of the organization and sharing our fellow Fulbrighters’ stories. It’s always great to hear from members of our community who have benefited from our events or advice.
6. What have been some of the most effective ways of connecting/helping fellow Fulbrighters to network within Fulbright Noir? What are some challenges that you have faced?
Word of mouth and social media are the most effective ways of connecting with the Board as well as other Fulbrighters. We started on Instagram, and it has remained our primary platform. We use email to connect with other Fulbright affinity groups, Fulbright Association chapters, and the U.S. Department of State. Because our communication is so varied in different parts of the world, it can be challenging to respond to concerns and questions in a timely manner. We try our best to connect necessary parties to our Fulbrighters who may need them.
7. Under “Partner Organizations” on the Fulbright website, there are other groups that have formed to serve and advocate for other people/populations. These include Fulbright Families, Fulbright Latinx, Fulbright Lotus, Fulbright Salam and others; do you ever collaborate with these other organizations?
Yes - we are happy to be a member of the Fulbright Diversity Collective (FDC), which comprises these groups and others. We were the first affinity group to be created, followed closely by Fulbright Prism and others that wanted to create spaces for their respective communities. We meet and collaborate closely, and it is a great opportunity to host events that focus on the intersection of identities, such as the representation of Queer/Trans People of Color (QTPOC). We hope to expand on this even more!
8. How can others support the work of Fulbright Noir?
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter - @fulbrightnoir to keep up with our initiatives! We’re currently working on a website so that we can be more accessible to more groups, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, please inform undergraduate and graduate students who may be interested in traveling and studying abroad to get connected with Fulbright Noir and learn more about the Fulbright Program. Finally, you can support us monetarily by buying some merchandise! You can find our online store with various products here - https://fulbright-noir-merch.creator-spring.com/.
Editorial Collective & Submission Information
The DDGC Blog is edited by an editorial collective. For more info about the collective and extensive submission information, click here.
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