The Fox Experience
Learn more about the Fox Experience through the words of these Fox Fellows.
Simon Hall, 2001-02, at Yale from Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge Universty
My time spent as a Fox International Fellow has been productive and enjoyable. First, it has enabled me to do a good deal of research in various archives around the United States for my PhD dissertation - which explores the links between the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s. I had the pleasure of visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison; the Swarthmore College Peace Collection just outside Philadelphia; and Columbia University in New York. Armed with fresh documentary evidence to support my arguments, and guided by the expert advice of the Yale's history department's Glenda Gilmore, I was able to submit my completed dissertation in late May. I also attended the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians - the largest academic gathering that I have ever attended, but one which was both intellectually stimulating and good fun. As well as the archival research involved, these trips also enabled me to experience American life and culture outside of Yale. My visit to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was a particular highlight.
Second, the Fox Fellowship here at Yale provided me with the time and the resources to work on some new projects. I wrote an article on Black Nationalism and the peace movement, which I am hoping to have published, and I began work on a short study of the civil rights movement in post-war Virginia. Clearly, the Fox Fellowship has greatly helped my scholarly work.
The Fellowship has also resulted in me meeting many fine people - both colleagues and friends - and in many ways this has been the most enjoyable aspect of the fellowship. The experience of living and working with people from different cultures and backgrounds is a very rewarding experience. Hopefully some of these new friendships will prove to be long lasting.
Since the 1980s, China's motto has been "gai ge kai fang" ("reform and open up"). This motto has greatly influenced government policy and subsequently, the education system. Having had previous teaching experience in Hong Kong, and studied abroad in China, I was interested in finding out how the Chinese university education system does or does not help university students understand Western culture. Fresh out of Yale myself, armed with a few years of book knowledge about China, a Chinese American background, and personal traveling experience, I stepped foot onto the campus of Fudan University in the fall of the first year of the new millennium, 2001.
Little did I know how much I would learn about student life, the education system, and Chinese society apart from my research! The first lesson came unexpectedly the first week of my stay in the foreign students' dorms, during which I was thrown into utter confusion over what I should be doing and where I should be going in order to get some direction on my research. I didn't even know where to look for materials, and since I was thrown together with the rest of the language students from all over the world (but mostly Japan and Korea), I went with the flow and also took some of their classes or audited classes taken by Chinese students. Professor Edward Xu and Professor Shen Dingli, both scholars and teachers at Fudan with offices in CAS, became my surrogate advisors. They inadvertently introduced me to the role of guanxi (connections) in Chinese society. Using their references, my life became a maze of phone calls and contacting various people who would then refer me to other people.
I learned more lessons from my one year of life in China than from all the paperwork and books that I could have pored over in four years.
The Yale Center for International and Area Studies boasts outstanding faculty, resources, and facilities and it emphasizes inter-disciplinary and comparative research - all this being of great significance for my work. I was able to attend numerous seminars and lectures at YCIAS and at other institutions, e.g. the Law School and the Hall of Graduate Studies, on a wide range of issues. Not only was I able to listen to speeches of prominent current and former policy makers and scholars, but I was also able to exchange a few words during many receptions.
I enjoyed interacting with the large and diversified Yale community - be it at receptions, before and after lectures, or in the gym. Yale is truly a global place that teaches you not only many things about the United States and the world at large but, maybe even most significantly, about your own country and yourself. It was very interesting for me to hear about other people's thoughts and perspectives concerning my home country. Sharing a house with four other Fox Fellows and meeting our other colleagues on a regular basis either in the office, in our seminar, for dinner, or on excursions organized by Yale or by ourselves, enabled us to develop long-lasting friendships.
We were at Yale and in the United States at a rather critical time. On September 11, America was attacked. As a foreign student, I was able to observe how this country moved on from shock to determination. People helped each other and they did not give in to fear. America asked the international community for help and the response was very positive and, indeed, overwhelming. I think that because of September 11, my affinity for the United States has become even greater than it was. I understand now, better than before, that America and Europe, and many other parts of our world, share the same values and goals.
The tragic events of September 11 changed and, unfortunately, ended many lives. Here at Yale, there was some disruption, but only temporary. My colleagues and I were able to get started as planned at Yale, attend lectures and seminars, read the literature we needed for our research, and begin or continue to write our papers. Also, we were able to make plans for our research trips that made it possible for us to attend conferences, do research at libraries, and conduct interviews in various parts of the country.
My topic is made up of a broad range of issues and it was therefore necessary for me to travel once in a while to several institutions in a number of states in order to obtain a better idea of the "big picture". At Yale and in Germany, most of the literature I used was in English. Furthermore, most of the literature in English was produced in the United States. It was therefore very rewarding for me to finally meet in person those scholars whose articles and books I had read in the past few years and to address my questions and comments directly to the authors in their offices.
Whenever my colleagues and I had questions about anything at Yale or about our research trips, the people at this university were very helpful and open-minded. Also, I was able to approach various persons at Yale and elsewhere quite a few times virtually in the last minute with requests for interviews and meetings. I have read that, in this country, "nobody is out of your reach" and it seems that this true. Moreover, in the conversations I have had senior scholars were interested not only in telling me about their ideas on a wide range of issues, but they were also keen to hear about my background and about my opinion. Much more so than at my home university, I had the feeling that people really cared about others and that I was indeed part of the large Yale community.
I return to Germany not only with a paper that is almost finished but, as one might call it, with at least one suitcase filled with very good memories.