Jenny Turner, the department chair for Library Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato, received the Fulbright Specialist Award to Qatar at Qatar National Library.
Her one problem? She needed approval.
That approval wouldn’t come until last Tuesday, just days before her scheduled departure for the foreign country.
Turner was last-minute approved, meaning she had to pack her bags and leave by last Saturday afternoon.
“I think it really hasn’t set in yet,” said Turner in an interview last Friday, a day before her departure. “I imagine I won’t be able to sleep tonight.”
The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The purpose of the program is to build connections between the U.S. and people of other countries.
According to a Fulbright press release, since the establishment of the program in 1946 more than 400,000 students and scholars have been sent across the world to study, teach and conduct research.
Typically, the Fulbright program sends recipients on trips lasting one academic year.
“It’s exciting for me, but it’s just harder to plan for that,” said Turner, referring to the difficult time commitment, especially as a faculty member. “You have to hope to get one during your sabbatical year, which the chances of that happening are very small.”
For the Fulbright Specialist Award, the time commitment is much less, only ranging from 14 to 42 days abroad.
While this is a high honor, it is not Turner’s first foray with the international program. In 2019, she was sent to India.
“I lived and worked with this group of librarians and administrators in India,” said Turner, “I went around and did presentations and chats with library school students.”
This time around, Turner will be working with the Qatar National Library.
“I am going to do a series of workshops with them,” said Turner, “working with them to develop their skills in being librarians.”
Although she wasn’t fully set up for the trip until early last week, Turner knew there was going to be the opportunity of a last minute approval, giving her some time for preparation, but not much.
While some wouldn’t care for the last-minute notice, Turner chose to see the bright side.
“Part of me is glad that that’s how it happened,” she said, “because this will give me the opportunity to really work with the people there to learn about them and make sure that I’m not imposing my viewpoints.”
Turner will return to the U.S. Dec. 2, and said she’s excited to see what experience she brings to Qatar — as well as what she can bring back to MNSU.
“I’m just really excited that I have the support of MSU for me to go,” said Turner. “I also hope that I can bring back ideas and new things for us to think about here.”