From January to June of 2012, Josephine Kershaw, Ph.D., associate professor of health care management, lived in Trivandrum, India, as a Fulbright Scholar and visiting lecturer.
Kershaw visited India with one of UF’s study abroad programs in 2009 and wished to learn more about the culture and its institutions. She applied for the Fulbright Program, an international educational exchange program.
The Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. government with a purpose to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. Applicants are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential and awarded with an opportunity to study, teach and conduct research in another county.
After a yearlong application process, the India Fulbright Scholars selected Kershaw as a Fulbright Scholar.
“Originally, I was going to an institution in Chennai, India, where UF’s study abroad program takes place,” said Kershaw. “Fulbright staff then recommended I go to another institution south of India, which is a medical center more in my area of expertise, health care management.”
In January, Kershaw, her husband and five children traveled to Trivandrum, India. They were met by a Fulbright facilitator in India who helped them get adjusted to the country, open bank accounts, find an apartment and figure out how to travel.
For six months, her children attended the local schools and explored the city while Kershaw taught at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).
“I taught in the college of public health,” said Kershaw. “The doctoral and master students had their undergraduate degrees and came back to get their public health degrees because they wanted to go into the public sector.”
Kershaw taught several classes including Health and Human Rights and Health Policies in the U.S. She led three seminars for the broader academic community and lectured on leadership and the U.S. health care system. Kershaw also traveled to Thailand as a visiting lecturer.
“Fulbright isn’t just about teaching, it’s about being a cultural ambassador and showing people what regular Americans are like because a lot of times, what they see is on TV; they have a very distorted view,” said Kershaw.
Among the teaching and traveling, Kershaw had the opportunity to make new connections for UF.
“At the medical center, we initiated a memorandum of understanding so that there would be faculty and student exchange and collaborations on projects between that institution and the University,” said Kershaw.
She also traveled to Chennai, India, as a representative of the University’s master of business administration program.
“Outside of Trivandrum, I went to Chennai to assist in an information session at Lifeline Hospital to expand The University of Findlay’s MBA program, and traveled to Thailand as a visiting lecturer for a nursing school in Bangkok.”
There must be four years before a Fulbright Scholar can participate again, and it is something Kershaw would love to do.
“We made wonderful friends that we still keep in touch with,” said Kershaw. “It’s a way to share what the U.S. is like and also experience what another culture is like. It’s one of those experiences that you remember for a lifetime.”
Written by Sarah Foltz