Hello all! There have been so many questions being thrown at me - some easy to answer, some not. So I thought I'd try to answer them here in hopes of making everyone feel clear!
Q: When do you leave?
A: End of June, beginning of July. The research must begin as the academic year starts, so that is the beginning of September. I received an additional grant to learn the language of Bangladesh, Bengali, for two months - so I leave for July. I am visiting Bangkok for a few days before I arrive in Dhaka to see my friend Mark who is working for the IOM on sex trafficking.
Q: How long will you be there?
A: The language grant is for two months, the research grant from 9-10 = about a year. I plan on spending some time in SE Asia but I will certainly be back in America to be in Erica's wedding mid-August!
Q: Where are you living?
A: I will be in the capitol of Dhaka. I am hoping to stay in a friend's house 10 minutes from my language school in the nice area of Banani. I am also hoping my room is not on the first floor, so I can avoid flooding.
Q: What will you be doing?
A: First I learn Bengali intensively for two months, then my research starts and I continue to take language classes for three more months. My research is on the independence of women after sex trafficking and the role NGOs play. Some centers have good approaches towards helping women become self-sufficient - some centers need work. Instead of demanding organizations to be better, I want to highlight organizations who already are practicing great methods to help women and girl who have been trafficked. The University of Dhaka will be helping me with my research.
Q: Do you get credit for this?
A: No, the Fulbright Scholarship is more like a research grant. I hope to publish my piece if things work out.
Q: Who is paying for this?
A: The American Government! They did something right. I get a base amount to buy my plane ticket, buy research books and equipment, and set up my apartment, then I get a monthly stipend to pay for rent, food and transportation. The language grant covers my courses.
Q: Will you have a phone?
A: I plan on buying a local one when I'm there, but my parents are kind enough to pay for a wireless card so I can Skype and email when I am in my room. So please, keep up with me!! :)
Q: Are you nervous?
A: Hahahahaha - of course I am! This is a huge step, I know it - though I don't comprehend the intensity of it. At first I was not only nervous, but scared. I am not anymore. I am ignoring the length of it, the lonliness that can ensue - because this is too wonderful an opportunity to ignore so I must face it. Now I laugh - I laugh at how insane of a decision it is, the length, the prestige. A friend gave great advice: "Look, you are a traveler. You know that some days you will want to book a flight home tomorrow. And you know that some days you will say that you are going native. You are entering this expedition knowing this - so let it come as it comes." Simple, yet so accurate (thanks, J!) Also, visiting good websites like my friend Lindsay, online magazines (Brave New Traveler) and reading inspiring books (The Tales of a Female Nomad) have been granting me extra courage.