Wow, another program year full of meaningful impact has begun. Together with our friends and partners, we officially welcomed our first cohort of 2022–23 program participants to Austria, including US students, scholars, and teaching assistants to Austria. We had orientations in Vienna, St. Pölten, and Zell am See that included online and in-person components. All this was designed to support our cohort of incoming program participants with the start of their experience in Austria. Together, we enjoyed wonderful receptions and the inspiring landscape and architecture in Austria. Many new friendships and connections were made in these first days. It felt so wonderful to celebrate their start in Austria with them. Now it is up to them to fulfill the expectations that come with the specific program they are in. Our program participants come as cultural ambassadors with the hunger to teach and learn, and it is up to the Austrian community to welcome them with open arms. Each encounter is a wonderful opportunity to build new bridges that unite our two countries. That is exactly what our new community members set out to do here in Austria in the next months. We are pleased to welcome 83 Fulbrighters and 147 US teaching assistants to our community of bright minds in this 2022–23 program year. Congratulations to all of them for starting their life-changing journey and creating meaningful impact.
The 2022–23 program year will offer many opportunities to see our programs’ impact. In early September, we had our third annual homecoming event for our returning Austrian program participants. This initiative was sparked by the wish of returning Fulbrighters to connect with the Fulbright Austria community as early as possible when they get back home. It was a pleasure to welcome them, to honor their achievements, and to listen to their stories, and you can see photos of the event in our Facebook album. Their enthusiasm and energy were inspiring for so many of us and showcased the impact the program has. Later in the month, many of them used the opportunity to connect with the US community at the reception Amassador Victoria Kennedy hosted at her residence in honor of our US and Austrian Fulbrighters.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit all of us, we envisioned an opportunity to give the Fulbrighters of the last decades a forum and the opportunity to shine and act as cultural ambassadors, even years after returning from their journey. While COVID-19 did change our plans, we are now grateful to see that this initiative is starting to bear fruit: the first FOLD Symposium will take place on 11 October 2022 in Vienna. However, this initiative does not end in October. If you want to be a part of this community activity and organize the next FOLD Symposium, apply by 1 November with your proposal to organize the 2023 FOLD Symposium in your region.
On 21 October 2022, we will award the Fulbright Prize in American Studies to one to two young bright minds for their respective PhD or master’s thesis as part of the 49th annual conference of the Austrian Association for American Studies at Paris Lodron University of Salzburg. The prize is based on an annual competition managed by the Austrian Association for American Studies. It acknowledges the importance of American studies and the role of innovative research by young Austrian scholars in contributing to the fulfillment of the Fulbright Program’s mandate to promote mutual understanding between the peoples of Austria and the US. This initiative has a long tradition that goes back to 2003. Since then, more than 31 young scholars have received this prestigious award. Now looking back at nearly 19 years of awards, many of these young bright minds have shaped the future of the field.
This week, another wonderful impact of our programs is unfolding: all of us at Fulbright Austria are impressed by the achievements of our alum Anton Zeilinger, who, together with Alain Aspect and John F. Clauser, will receive the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science.” We would like to congratulate Anton Zeilinger on having his work so prominently praised and hope that as he revels in his accomplishment, he also looks back fondly on his Fulbright experience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.
While this editorial ends here, this is just the beginning of a new program year full of impact. A year that requires from all of us a sense of openness to the opportunities out there, especially if you are one of the lucky ones who just started their Fulbright journey. So I want to leave you with a quote that has boosted curiosity since my time in the US and continues to inspire me:
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” – Epictetus