Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA)

Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope: Australia's response to the global refugee crisis


Image Credit: "Syrian Refugee Camp" by Erin Wilson Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


As part of our community engagement and social justice agenda, the Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA) will be hosting a series of public events in November 2019.

Our goals are twofold:

1. Increase Australian awareness and action for the global refugee crisis; and

2. Enhance the Australian US Fulbright connection and outreach to young people.

This project involves bringing US Fulbright Scholar, communications professor and expert in cross-cultural communication, Dr Mara Adelman to Australia to host a total of three major public forums (‘Salons’) in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (one per city) to discuss the global refugee crisis. Drawing on the Salon concept that Dr Adelman curated and led in the US, each Salon will bring together people with lived experience as asylum seekers, representatives from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane asylum seeker resource centres, performers and Fulbright scholars. These public events will serve as a platform by which Fulbright scholars can build stronger ties with young people, asylum seekers, community organisations, universities and policy makers.

In addition to the three Salons, AFAA, through its visiting Salon curator Dr Mara Adelman, will offer free follow-up training, capacity building, consultation and workforce development to asylum seeker centre staff, volunteers and community leaders in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The program also will feature a public concert in Melbourne on Friday 15th November.

Event schedule

Click the links below to find out more about events in your city!

Sydney, 7 November: 2019 Sydney AFAA Salon - Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope: Australia's response to the global refugee crisis

Melbourne, 14 November: 2019 Victoria AFAA Salon - Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope: Australia's response to the global refugee crisis

Melbourne, 15 November: Ticketed concert Refugees, Remembrance and Resilience: Weaving Together Frayed Lives

Brisbane, 21 November: 2019 Brisbane AFAA Salon - Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope: Australia's response to the global refugee crisis

Event format

Dr Adelman’s visit as AFAA’s guest allows us to draw on her considerable expertise in curating significant public events that encourage reflection, community capacity-building and action. The program features key personnel from the Asylum Seeker Centre in each capital city, community speakers linked to each Asylum Seeker Centre, and Fulbright alumni with specialist expertise. A performance will be provided by Fulbright Alumni in collaboration with artists connected to each Asylum Seeker Centre.

Audience members will be invited to respond to talks in round table discussions and answer the question, “What can I do?” The presenters have created provocative questions and various options for how we can move to greater understanding and local action on this global crisis. Light supper will be served.

Since this is a rare opportunity to connect Australian and US Fulbright Scholars with the wider community, each event will feature a pre-event social hour for Fulbright Scholars to meet with students and young people to discuss the Fulbright program and explore opportunities. AFAA representatives will provide a 15-minute introduction/overview and hold small table conversations where interested young people can meet Fulbright alumni and each other.

The event will be curated by Dr Mara Adelman, who is a US Fulbright Scholar, communications professor and expert in cross-cultural communication. In 2012, Dr Adelman was a Fulbright Specialist at the Department of Communication at the University of Mekelle in northern Ethiopia and a Fulbright Specialist at the Department of English at Fudan University, Shanghai, China from October-December 2017. In both programs, she developed culture-specific, required courses in Cross-cultural Communication.

Get involved

You're invited to participate in Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope. We are particularly interested to feature Fulbright alumni as speakers at the events. If this sounds like you, we'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch with AFAA President Iain Butterworth at president.afaa@gmail.com.

Interested in being a musician at the Melbourne concert on November 15? We'd also love to hear from you! Please get in touch with Dr Zachary Dunbar at zdunbar@unimelb.edu.au.

About the curator: Dr Mara Adelman

This event will be led by Dr Mara Adelman, Emeritus Associate Professor of Communication from Seattle University.

Dr Adelman received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington and then joined Northwestern University.  She joined Seattle University, Department of Communication in 1994.  She is author of Beyond Language: Cross-cultural communication for ESL (co-authored with Deena Levine; Prentice Hall, 1987, 1997), and an award-winning ethnographic study of the second largest home for persons with AIDS, The Fragile Community (co-authored with Lawrence R. Frey; Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997).  Her research and scholarship focuses on cross-cultural communication and adaptation, restorative solitude, interpersonal and organizational social interaction.

In 2012, Dr Adelman was a Fulbright Specialist at the Department of Communication at the University of Mekelle in northern Ethiopia and a Fulbright Specialist at the Department of English at Fudan University, Shanghai, China from October-December 2017. In both programs, she developed culture-specific, required courses in Cross-cultural Communication.

Mara recently delivered Frayed Lives to a full house in her home city of Napa, California.


Australia Fulbright Alumni Association. ACT Registered No. A01934. ABN 99 730 723 674. PO Box 5037, University of TAS LPO, Sandy Bay, TAS 7005.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software