Building Skills & Global Competencies on Board the Millennial Train

“Riding the rail with the MTP’s innovators inspired me to develop entrepreneurial skills so that I can better serve my beloved country, Iraq.” –Saja, Fulbright student from Iraq 

Just after crossing the stage to receive her master’s degree in environmental science and policy from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Saja flew to Los Angeles to board a train and cross the country with 24 fellow innovators from around the world.  On the train, she joined 19 American undergraduate students and five Fulbright Foreign Student Program participants who, like Saja, have been pursuing graduate-level education at institutions across the country. Together, the 25 emerging leaders journeyed for 10 days across the southern United States, developing leadership, social entrepreneurship, and communication skills as part of the Millennial Trains Project (MTP). 

The MTP is a 501(c)(3) “engine of progress” created by Fulbright alumnus Patrick Dowd. Its mission is to empower diverse groups of creative, entrepreneurial, and civic-minded Millennials and to foster innovation and exploration within these individuals and the communities they visit. As part of the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program, the six foreign students were able to join this Fulbright enrichment activity to meet with entrepreneurs and thought leaders all across the United States, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., informing their research on topics ranging from obesity to religious tolerance to increasing female leadership in technology. 

For some Fulbright participants, this was their first opportunity to share perspectives and ideas on a deeper level with Americans. Sharing the close quarters of a train car, all of the students forged new levels of understanding as they connected not just over their research, but over their culture, faith, and values. Here’s what our Fulbrighters had to say about the experience:

  • "Working with so many talented young professionals coming from all walks of life, I started having new ideas about how to deliver education programming to Afghan children. More importantly, I learned that the best solutions can be found at crossroads between diverse thoughts, fields, and people."  - Mohammad, Fulbright student from Afghanistan
  • "Sharing a train ride across the U.S. with 24 other innovators, artists, dreamers and change makers of the world can be incredibly intimidating until you realize that they also like to sing, dance, laugh, dream and love just like you, and you sing, dance, laugh, dream and love together". – Rodrigo, Fulbright student from El Salvador
  • As Patrick says, the worst thing that can happen is sometimes the best thing that can happen.” –Magdalena, Fulbright student from Poland
  • “My eyes were so blessed with the stunning highest-resolution images of America's landscape through a moving train. The Millennial Trains Project to me is a train of thoughts, changes and leaders. I am very positive that those 25 millennials on the train are going to change the world to a better place.” – Pichleap, Fulbright student from Cambodia

For more insight into the Fulbrighters on the MTP journey, check out the Fulbright participants’ online blogs and take a peek into the 2015 Millennial Trains journey through this video

About the Author: Meghann Curtis serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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abdelmoumen k.
June 16, 2015
thanks for offering such as this program, it help us to learn from other culture.
Saja, a Fulbright student from Iraq, boards a train in Los Angeles, California with her fellow Fulbrighters Rodrigo from El Salvador, and Lala from South Africa
Posted by Meghann Curtis
June 15, 2015


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