The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, in which Vanderbilt participates in, was initiated in 1978 to honor the late senator and vice president and his life-long commitment to international cooperation and public service. As detailed on Vanderbilt’s web site:
The program brings accomplished mid-career leaders from developing nations and emerging democracies to the United States for an academic year to study, gain professional experience and foster cultural exchange.
Humphrey Fellows are selected based on their potential for leadership and their commitment to public service in either the public or the private sector. The Humphrey Fellowship Program’s mission is to foster a mutual exchange of knowledge and understanding about issues of common concern in the United States and the Fellows’ home countries while offering Fellows valuable opportunities for leadership development and professional engagement with Americans and their counterparts from many nations.
Alonso Silva of Chile is one of those Fellows, and last week, he gained some knowledge about the United States and Nashville that we hoped wouldn’t color his opinion of us: people sometimes break into your house and steal your things, including your guitar. He didn’t come to the United States with much to begin with, but it was the loss of his guitar that was the most devastating to him. Alonso is a great guy, and has quickly become a good friend to us at NPT while beginning to work on outreach for the documentary Not In Our Town. The news of the break-in was saddening. We love this town, and know Nashville as a better place than Alonso had first discovered. We Are Nashville, after all, right? So we sent an email (one, it turned out, was all we needed) to get the ball rolling, and within a day, an anonymous donor had stepped up to give Alonso a new guitar – a Fender California Series classical. The donor didn’t want any attention for it, only to “do right by the guy,” as he said, “and make Nashville a “great place to live.” We couldn’t agree more.
We surprised Alonso with the guitar earlier this week by popping into one of his workshops. The guitar and Alonso’s subsequent serenading of the whole class — he’s good,VERY good — drew rapturous applause from his classmates. It was really a fantastic moment.
So welcome to Nashville, Alonso. We hope you know how much love and care is in this town. And thank you, Anonymous Donor, for being so quick to help. And to the person, or persons, that broke into Alonso’s apartment and stole his stuff, we don’t like you. And Elmo doesn’t like you, either. And he likes everybody.
Bonus Video! On the way there (sound is low … you may have to turn up volume to catch the scintillating banter):