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Fulbright Scholar Reflects on Experience

Gabby DeMarchi

News Editor

The Fulbright Program, an international education exchange program, is one of the most elite programs in the world.

According to their website, “roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.”

Fulbright students, scholars and teachers do research and study in places such as Haiti, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, just to name a few of the 155 countries that participate in the program.

In January when the director of the International Center, Deb Alm, got an email from Dr. Majid Al-Busafi, a recent Fulbright Scholar recipient from Oman, asking to spend five months on the Springfield College campus doing research on “coach education,” she couldn’t turn the offer down.

“It’s always an honor for us because we know it is a competitive process to receive these awards,” Alm explained.

“Worldwide, these are the best and the brightest. We are very proud to have him here, and he is very deserving.”

Al-Busafi feels very honored and lucky to be a Fulbright Scholar, but his past credentials have proven his knowledge and skill in health and physical education.

Al-Busafi first gained his Bachelors of Physical and Health Education at his home university, Sultan Qaboos University, where he now teaches. Al-Busafi then moved onto Australia, where he received his Master’s in Physical and Health Education at the University of Wollongong. His last step was at the University of Birmingham in the UK, where Al-Busafi got his Ph.D in Coach Education.

Throughout all of this, Al-Busafi was a member of the Omani National Team for mid-and long- distance running. Being a member with the team is what initially sparked his interest in the subject of coach education.

“Because I was on the National team, I asked my coach how to design training programs. Step by step, I [realized I] really liked this topic,” Al-Busafi said.

After he earned his Ph.D in 2011, Al-Busafi found it difficult to find time to do the research he wanted to do.

“I am lucky to come here, because in Oman, I have very little time to do my research with teaching responsibilities, supervising and family responsibility. There is no time to do research.”

His busy schedule is what led him to apply to the Fulbright Program.

After the six-month process of filling out applications and documents, the Fulbright Program accepted Al-Busafi’s proposal and granted him the scholarship to do research on coach education wherever he pleased.

That’s when the fun began.

Al-Busafi started to look for potential higher education establishments to do his research. When he found Springfield, it was love at first sight.

“I read about Springfield, and when I saw a picture of it, it was all [soccer] fields and I knew this is what I wanted,” said Al-Busafi with a grin. Al-Busafi contacted Alm about coming here, and Alm immediately sent out the invitation letter to Al-Busafi that is required by the Fulbright Program, and a few short months later, here he is.

Former Fulbrighter, and SC professor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Julia Chevan served her Fulbright Scholarship in January of 2011 where she taught, consulted, and collaborated on projects at the Kigali Health Institute in Rwanda for six months.

“I wanted to be a Fulbrighter because I wanted to live in another culture to try to better understand the world in which we live. I wanted my children to live in another culture for the same reasons. I wanted to work with physical therapy faculty at an institution very different from SC so that I could share ideas with them and learn how they manage their academic lives,” Chevan said.

The prestige, honor, and good fortune that came with being a Fulbright Scholar is something Chevan will never forget, and she is happy to see that SC gets to host their own Scholar.

“Hosting a Fulbrighter affords the campus a high level of recognition that we are part of the U.S. ambassadorship efforts, and that our faculty have expertise to share.”

While his five months here are almost up, Al-Busafi has greatly enjoyed his time on campus.

He has attended and presented at conferences all over the New England area. He has visited New York, Boston, and of course, the Big E, and most importantly, he has found the time to do the research he has wanted to do for years.

“I will never forget [Springfield],” Al-Busafi said kindly. “I will benefit [from this experience].”

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