Director of the US Fulbright Program Speaks at University

Dr. Daniel Kramer led an information session outlining the grant program

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The prestigious program offers grants for research and teaching abroad. 

The Center for Undergraduate Excellence hosted an information session Thursday in the Special Collections Library led by Dr. Daniel Kramer, director of the Fulbright U.S. Students Program, on Fulbright grants for students.

The Fulbright program began in 1946, and has had over 325,400 participants, 122,800 from the United States and 202,600 from other countries. It receives funding from Congress and foreign governments and is the flagship program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and is administered by the Institute of International Education, which is, according to its website, a “private, not-for-profit leader in the international exchange of people and ideas.”

Kramer and Sharief El-Gabri, a Fulbright scholarship recipient, talked to about thirty undergraduate and graduate students about the available opportunities and the application process for the grants.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards two types of grants — study and research grants and English Teaching Assistant grants. All grants include transportation to and from the host country as well as room and board, and some also cover tuition, books and research allowances and language study programs.

Kramer emphasized the goal of the program was to promote a mutual understanding between grantees and host countries.

El-Gabri spoke about his time spent in Jordan on an ETA grant and described how he spent his spare time working on projects with locals like building a playground.

“[Teaching] was only 50 percent of my obligation,” he said. “[It] demonstrated to me that the Fulbright program is about engaging the community,” he said.

Kramer offered advice for students interested in applying, telling them to focus on using the application to show different aspects of their abilities and interests.

“Each [part of the application] is a piece of a mosaic telling them about who you are,” he said.

Applications, due by Oct. 13, are first read by National Screening Committees. If they pass this first round, the applications are then reviewed by Fulbright Commissions and Posts in the country where the student will study. The third and final round of the review process is carried out by the Presidentially-appointed Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. With a few exceptions, students may only submit one application to a single country each year, though they may reapply as many years as they want to.

Kramer said that over 2,000 awards were being offered this year, a 5 percent increase from last year. Generally they receive between 10,000 and 12,000 applicants each year, he said.

Andrus Ashoo, associate director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, said that for the past seven years, between 30 and 40 University students have applied each year for Fulbright grants.

“The process of applying is invaluable,” Ashoo said. “Applying is a way of asking yourself questions you should be asking yourself, [like] ‘What am I passionate about?’ You’re evaluating whether you fit the award.”

Ashoo said the Center for Undergraduate Excellence held the information session so students could see the resources available to them.

“Fulbright’s an incredible opportunity,” he said. “We should have more students applying for it.”

Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Fulbright Program receives funding from Congress and foreign governments and is the flagship program of the International Institute of International Education. It also incorrectly stated that the first round of application review is carried out by the U.S. State Department.

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