Enrichment seminars are a component of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program in which we bring the foreign students together in nine different groupings to different cities all around the United States. The Fulbright Program is really a platform for cultural and academic exchange. It brings all these people from other parts of the world to the U.S. to get the experience to exchange cultures, to learn the best in the U.S., and then go back home and apply all these specialties and new experiences that we learned. By studying abroad, open your eyes, open your mind. Kill this prejudice that we develop if we live just in our culture. When these students come together in these cities, our objectives are really three-fold. First, is to have the foreign students get to know each other. It was just fascinating to meet so many different people from so many different countries, and get their perspective, not only on the U.S., but also on their Fulbright experience and on their future plans. We understand each other very quickly. It’s an amazing experience talking to people from different countries. The second component is really to have the foreign Fulbright students get to know a different part of the country. In this aspect, they participate in community service activities in the cities that they go to. They hear from different public speakers from that city, politicians, professionals, community service workers, and they really get to know the culture and the fabric of that city. Well, we are just trying to do some jobs to help the community to have, like, a free garden. In Europe, this type of community service, like voluntary one, is not very common, so it’s really nice to see how it works in the U.S. The third component of the enrichment seminar is really for the American public to get to know the Fulbright foreign student. In these cities all around the country, this group of foreign Fulbright students comes together. They go out into the community and interface with Americans who would typically not get to meet an individual from Azerbaijan or Zimbabwe. We have an opportunity every year to host Fulbright students when they come through for the D.C. enrichment seminar. It’s a fantastic experience just to get all these different cultures in my house for one evening. At least once now I’ve met an American family, that I’m talking with them. From there, I hope that when you meet with people, you start a connection. Because it’s a Presidential election year in the United States, this year’s enrichment seminar focused on U.S. politics in elections, democracy in action. At the end of each seminar, the students participated in an election simulation to demonstrate all that they had learned. Participants are given an opportunity, given that it’s 2012, to really be a part of understanding better what the political process in the United States is all about. So prior to coming here, we all received demographic identities, such as being a baby boomer or an immigrant, and with those identities, we took on certain roles, we had to elect certain members — democratic, republican — really it seemed like a real-life situation. Each party basically had to look at their candidates and determine based on a position statement why that candidate really fit the role best for leader of the political party. After they vote on which candidate will represent each party, we will have a final election in which both candidates — the republican representative and the democratic representative — engage in a debate. So everything was debate-based, but again, it’s such an excellent opportunity because it has really given me personally and so many other Fulbrighters an inside-look as to really how the election process works here. With the goal of the Fulbright program being mutual understanding, this year’s topic for the enrichment seminars was particularly meaningful. There is perhaps no more American of an element of our society than our democratic process, so to be able to convey to all these foreign students exactly what it is that we do in this country to elect our representatives, I think was incredibly important for us, but I also think very meaningful for the foreign students themselves. This gives them a sense of the American electoral process that I think is far more nuanced than perhaps what they see in the media or elsewhere.