Joyce Mac Kinnon

IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Professor and Associate Dean
Fulbright Senior Scholar program
South Africa, 2008

Describe your Fulbright program and project.
The focus of the project was to work with faculty and graduate students in the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein, South Africa on post graduate supervision.

How did you establish a relationship with the host organization?
I used the IU visiting faculty program in 2003 to go to South Africa for one month. While there, I was based in Johannesburg at Witwatersrand University, and worked with faculty and students in the physical therapy program to create partnerships and begin research endeavors. Two years later faculty in the School of Health Sciences at the CUT contacted Trudy Banta’s office, asking for some assistance with assessment of student learning outcomes. Trudy gave them my contact information, knowing how much I had enjoyed my time in South Africa. I went to South Africa that year, and provided consultation. I returned in subsequent years through funding from the South African Research Foundation, and then received the Fulbright award in 2008. Since then, I have been a visiting professor in the University from 2009-present, returning to South Africa each year to provide consultation and do research.

What were the benefits of the Fulbright project?
The tangible outcomes of the project were international presentations and publications. The Fulbright experience gave me the opportunity to solidify my engagement at the University and has resulted in several other publications and presentations. Subsequently, the Dean of Research at the institution and my South African colleague have been able to come on the IUPUI campus and do some collaborative research here as well.

What kind of challenges did you confront?
Since this was not my first visit to South Africa, some of the challenges that occurred on my first visit were not applicable to this visit. On my first visit, I learned that although English is spoken in South Africa, some of the terms we us in the United States had different meanings in South Africa and that I needed to be alert to these language challenges. With a high unemployment rate, there is opportunity for violent crime in the country, and one needs to be mindful of the possibility and take precautions.

What would you recommend to other Fulbright applicants?
The Fulbright Senior Scholar program is a wonderful opportunity to engage in a substantive project identified by the host institution. Unlike the Fulbright fellowships, length of visit can be as short as two weeks, although longer visits are also approved. I would encourage anyone interested in such opportunities to speak to those of us who have been on the senior scholar roster, and to clearly identify your area of expertise. On a pragmatic level,, make sure you have adequate contact information. On my first visit to Bloemfontein there was a national airline strike. I was arriving on a weekend, and I realized that my South African colleague and I had not exchanged cell phone numbers or developed a communication contingency plan (whoops).