Mutual Understanding: Mission Possible
Robert Altman has shown the morode conditions of Nashville's society - time for Fulbrighters to clean up ;-) .
For four days, Nashville, Tennessee was the meeting place for 140 daring Fulbrighters from 69 different countries exploring "Social Entrepreneurship", businesses that incorporate social responsibility into their business plan in order to save the city of Nashville and the whole world!
In order to get to Nashville, I took a red-eye (overnight) flight, which was delayed by a sudden snow "storm" - a couple of snowflakes that Seattlelites unfortunately don't know how to handle since it barely snows here. All odds were against the mission.
With a couple of hours delay, I arrived in Nashville and went to explore the city. Altman had not exaggerated. Crime and offence were all around - and so was the sound of country music from speakers at the traffic lights. We were terrified!
Together with a friend, I investigated among the locals, but they remained silent as to who pulled the strings of these criminal wheelings and dealings.
Finally, we came across some clues that suggested a critical underground movement.
They helped us to identify the source of the troubles that Nashville had slided into - until it finally became the "buckle of the bible belt".
Shocked and appalled, we gathered the Fulbrighters in the conference room of the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Nashville and went to develop a plan. Our strategy was clear: Social Entrepreneurship was the mission!
After we heard a talk about the concept and the theory, we collectively decided it would be best to go out and explore the possibilities of applying social entrepreneurship to the city.
We soon found a place to mix with the locals and in order to gain their trust, we engaged in one of the local extravagances: country dancing. This evil vice soon took over some of the Fulbrighter's minds, enhancing the already present red-eye effect among them.
However, the strategy worked and we were introduced to the leader of the underground movement: Ernesto!
Under the cover of an after-school program for children at the Preston Taylor Boys & Girls Club, Ernesto runs a secret network that reinstalls order and justice in the community.
He encouraged us to participate in his conspirative movement and we spent an afternoon working closely with local kids hiding in the the underground movement and spy system from the ill-treatment of society.
We encouraged the children in their work and Ernsto really made us part of his project; it was amazing. We became an integrated part of the subversive element.
In turn, we shared our experiences from all over the world with this great man and his fearless crew, introducing them to the beauty of our own countries.
After a day of hard work, we deserved some rest and nourishment: The Tennessee State Museum had agreed to host our Fulbright troops for a reception, but suspicious of the venue, we continued our research in the country bars with live music.
Saturday morning called for action. Subdivided into eight different groups, we met up to develop strategies that would safe not only Nashville, but the whole world! Public Health, Economic Development, Education and Environment were the main issues we wanted to adress.
In my group, we focused on environment and came up with a sustainable business model that adressed Student Housing Administrations under the cover of Financial Consultants with the secret goal of subversively influencing their students to produce less waste and use less energy by educating them. We would slowly undermine the vicious system of pollution under the name EnSol!
After saving the world - one Fulbrighter at a time - we went to trace our defeated enemy's history in the Museum of Country Music. Under the innocent cover of music, the vices had slowly found their way into Nashville's society.
Guns and steel came to dominate a city that had been peacefully humming and chiming to the clicking of country boots on the streets.
Dancing and celebration followed our success and each of us swore a sollem oath never to forget our fruitful days in Nashville, the amazing community we had formed, the wonderful people we had met, despite the fact that we had to part.
We would stay connected to create more mutual understanding all over the world and save it one Fulbrighter at a time.
(Harmonius cliché group photo to be posted soon)