2017-18 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytellers Announced

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Geographic Society announced today the selection of the 2017-2018 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows.

The five American Fulbright-National Geographic Storytellers are:

  • Toby Cox, who will explore the story of religious identity in the Kyrgyz Republic, its complex relationship with Islam and how it developed over time. She will use personal interviews as a way to gain insight into the multidimensional Kyrgyz identity.
  • Abby McBride, a sketch artist who will travel to New Zealand to sketch endangered seabirds—penguins, prions, storm-petrels, shearwaters, shags, gulls, gannets, mollymawks, and more—to tell stories about New Zealanders’ extraordinary efforts to save these species in the “seabird capital of the world.”
  • Destry Maria Sibley, who will travel to Mexico to produce a podcast series dedicated to telling the stories of Los Niños de Morelia, a group of more than 400 child refugees who fled the Spanish Civil War and settled in Mexico in 1937.
  • Lillygol Sedaghat, who will document the human narratives shaping Taiwan’s waste management system and the innovations emerging in plastics and electronics recycling using interactive photo galleries, audio, and a live Instagram campaign.
  • Isaí Madriz, an entomologist and zoologist who will travel to Chile to hike, bikepack, and packraft to unexplored areas and secluded fjords in search of some of the rarest insects on the planet, telling the story of deglaciation in the Northern Patagonia Ice Field.

The Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship is a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society which provides a unique platform for U.S. Fulbrighters to undertake an in-depth exploration of globally relevant issues and utilize a variety of digital storytelling tools and media, including blogs, photography, video, and social media, to share their stories by providing content to a National Geographic Society blog and other platforms with the support and mentorship of National Geographic’s storytelling team. These storytelling tools are a powerful resource in building lasting ties across cultures. This is the fourth group of five Fulbright-National Geographic Storytellers selected from a highly competitive merit-based, multi-tiered global competition.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship was launched in 2013 as a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. It sends U.S. citizens abroad to engage in an academic year of digital storytelling projects in up to three countries on globally significant themes. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows Will Shine Spotlight on Critical World Issues (2013)

First 5 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows Named (2014)

Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship Awards Announced (2015)

Third Class of Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows Named (2016)

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn