Mark Bookman was a 2014-2015 Fulbright Research Fellow affiliated with Tokyo University in Tokyo, Japan.
"As a 2014-2015 Research Fulbright Fellow affiliated with Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan I explored the intersection of Shingon Buddhist linguistic philosophy, metaphysics, and bodily figuration so as to develop a hermeneutic for reconsidering the thought of Western philosophers such as Plato and Nietzsche. I enrolled in 12 graduate-level seminars during my time at Toyo, which consisted on average of four students and were conducted in Japanese alongside the requisite exegetical Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Classical Chinese.
These courses were instrumental in my development both as an individual and a scholar, providing me with a fundamental understanding of the doctrines and arts associated with various forms of Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, and Japanese Buddhism.
My position as a Fulbright Scholar led to my taking part in numerous civic engagement opportunities including but not limited to traditional Japanese theater performances and a wide array of festivals. Perhaps the most rewarding of these opportunities was my participation in multiple academic conferences on comparative philosophy and religion alongside such revered figures as Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan. Moreover, as the first wheelchair-bound Fulbright scholar to Japan, I found myself becoming a champion for the ‘barrier-free’ accessibility movement and became involved in numerous awareness campaigns including but not limited to a NHK television show promoting disability awareness and an international conference where Pakistani and Japanese officials comparatively discussed the physical and social accessibility of their respective cultures.
I would be remiss should I fail to mention all of the wonderful encouragement and support that I received from the Villanova University Center for Research and Fellowships both during the application process for the Fulbright Program and during my tenure in Japan. From helping me craft a better CV to proof-reading my personal statement, from reviewing my statement of purpose to encouraging me to apply in the first place, CRF was always there to help me along the road to success. Without the life-changing experience that the Fulbright Program afforded me I might not have secured my current position as a PhD student in Japanese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Thus, I must also extend my most heartfelt gratitude to the Center for Research and Fellowships for helping me to become the man I am today. Thank you."