Miroslava Mima Ivanović I Fulbright Student Program Experience
In 2018 I was selected as a Fulbright student to conduct research in the area of the rights of persons with disabilities on Syracuse University College of Law, Disability Law and Policy Program. I spent there three months in fantastic collaboration with my mentor Professor Arlene Kanter and amazing colleagues from classes I attended.
Considering that I was first Fulbright student with disability from Montenegro and one of a few with high support and assistance needs in the whole program my travel and stay in USA were real challenge. I wanted not only to conduct a research, but to experience real life of persons with disabilities in USA and to feel how the legal guarantees of human rights of this population are implemented in everyday life. I can say that risk I took to go and stay in the completely new environment was more than worth it.
The support and the commitment of the University staff to prepare all necessary conditions for my smooth transition and adaptation to new environment was extremely encouraging, sincere and warm. I really felt their enthusiasm and happiness to meet and host new people from new parts of the world to them and to learn and enrich each other with our differences. That was one of the most beautiful characteristics of people from the USA I was impressed by.
Within my research visit I followed two courses on US Disability Law and International Comparative Disability Law, which both enabled me to get great insights in legal framework and practices in disability area worldwide, but also to develop contacts which will influence my future work in this area. Additionally, the organizations and institutes within the University organized plenty of amazing events which were great opportunity to learn about new approaches to potential and successes of persons with different types of disabilities in the USA. The openness and will of experts in the USA I met to build partnerships and cooperate on improvement on status of persons with disabilities in Montenegro are inspiring and encouraging, especially considering that almost all of them heard about Montenegro for the first time when they met me.
Besides the great opportunities of interaction and knowledge sharing with persons active in disability area worldwide, the Fulbright program enabled me to experience real everyday life of persons with disabilities in the USA. Through this experience and relationships with Americans with disabilities, I realized how many challenges persons with disabilities face even in high-developed countries. The administrative barriers and lack of information to persons with disabilities and their families are still a challenge in the USA. However, that is not perceived as hardly resolved problem, but rather as a motivation for adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to work more in this area and to support persons with disabilities to be as independent as possible and to struggle for their own rights and rights of the future generations of this population.
I was amazed with the American approach to every person, which enabled every individual to realize and offer to society his/her potential. This approach is unmeasurably important for persons with disabilities who are provided with all necessary support, especially by their families, in order to utilize all of their potentials. I understood the importance of activism of persons with disabilities and their families, and how much adequate approach to disability can completely change the lives of these persons. These experiences crucially influenced my point of view and determined my future activities in Montenegro in this area.
To be Fulbright student is not only about researching and studying, but also to build a new friendships and visit new places. For those who are interested to apply for Fulbright scholarship, I would highly recommend New York State as, not only, one of the most important and famous center of the USA, but also the place with breathtaking nature beauties. You will have the opportunity to see beautiful landscapes, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and beaches, including the monument to Nikola Tesla.
If you think whether to apply for Fulbright scholarship, don’t think more – do it now; you will really have “fulbrightining” experience in academics and of a lifetime with lots of unexpected opportunities, great people and inspiring professors and colleagues.