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"I am not sure, I will ever not be a student"

Hera Jay Brown is alumna of the prestigious Fulbright Schuman Program. In the questionnaire she shared with us insights into how she views the EU, what motivates and inspires her in her work for refugees and what impact the programme participation had.

Name: Hera Jay Brown
Programme & year of participation: Fulbright Schuman, 2019-2020
Profession: Student & Consultant - Rhodes Scholar at University of Oxford; Junior Consultant
Nationality: USA
Current residence: Oxford, UK

What I enjoy most about my work is...

Being a constant learner; I am not sure, I will ever not be a student, even when I am not in a formal programme. I also enjoy getting to delve into the professional world while buttressing those experiences and insights with academic theory, methods, and rigour.

What inspires and motivates me in my job…

The ability to world build in community. I am surrounded by individuals who see a different world as possible and indeed necessary. That drive and passion inspires and motivates me to do better for myself, my communities, and the broader global community.

I hope that my research has an impact on…

Displacement and labour: When I lost my home as a teenager, I relied on hourly wages from miscellaneous jobs: as a makeup artist, a perfume seller, a Macy’s skincare consultant, a student-worker. Thinking back, I was lucky: I had the legal right to work, a guarantee to a certain wage, and protection from abuses by my employer. The reality for those displaced to other countries is far more precarious. This is where I see myself contributing, to the intersection of international displacement and labour and ensuring that all people have access to good, safe, and dignified jobs.

During the pandemic I have learned…

How to be more present and alone with myself.

If I were not a researcher, I would be...

a folk music artist (though something I would want to train more on if I had the privilege of being able to focus on that rather than working as a researcher).

If I could change one thing about the world, I would...

change the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Accords to recognize people who are displaced from economic exploitation and climate change.

For me, the EU is…

is an interesting experiment on formal regional cooperation in a variety of economic, political, and social arenas buttressed by the diversity of EU member states.

The similarities between the EU and U.S.:

Often, their foreign policy aims and hegemony can parallel one another, though cases such as the withdrawal from Kabul demonstrates divergences, too.

My vision for the EU in 20 years is:

An EU that fundamentally recognizes the colonial and imperial pasts that constitute the current EU and that full restitutions and return of colonised land is implemented and mandated to rectify these past atrocities.

My hopes/expectations for the EU-US relations:

That both work in tandem to address the rise of precarious labour within their realms.

Support for innovative research, the ability to access networks for global causes, and gaining a community of people who are unafraid to say 'I don’t know, but let’s find out'.
This book has inspired me:

Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy

My motto/philosophy of life:

“We don’t need more allies, we need more aiders and abettors.” — Dr. Sylvia Turner

Connecting EU Alumni is relevant because...

As the case in Kabul has shown, networks can be activated to support people fleeing unfolding crises. EU Alumni can offer vital networks in this mission.

What makes Fulbright Schuman a unique programme is…

the ability to experience the breadth of diversity within EU member states while also finding common threads that keep the EU experiment tied together.

The most remarkable change before and after my participation in the Fulbright Schuman Program is…

My connectedness and ability to call upon scholars, policy advocates, and activists in so many countries throughout the EU.

3 reasons to participate in the Schuman Fulbright Program:

Support for innovative research, the ability to access networks for global causes, and gaining a community of people who are unafraid to say “I don’t know, but let’s find out”.

The Fulbright Schuman Program which was created in 1990 and is jointly financed by the U.S. State Department and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission provides grants for Americans and Europeans to study and conduct research. The program funds graduate and postgraduate study, research, and lecture proposals in the field of US-EU relations, EU policy, or EU institutions for interested American and EU citizens. For more info, check here and here.