Thursday, July 30, 2009

Webinar Reminder: Fulbright Alumni Roundtable for Applicants (Europe/Eurasia) on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Selected Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni will discuss their experiences in Europe and Eurasia. IIE Program Managers will moderate the Webinar as well as a question and answer session. Study or research and English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) applicants are encouraged to attend the session related to their proposed country of application.

This Webinar is primarily an opportunity to speak with alumni about their experiences. General questions can best be answered by visiting our website:

Space is limited.

Please click: to reserve your participation in Tuesday's Webinar.

All times are Eastern Time Zone.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Webinar Reminder: Fulbright Alumni Roundtable for Applicants (South/Central Asia) on Monday, August 3, 2009, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Alumni of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program will discuss their Fulbright experiences in South and Central Asia. IIE Program Managers will moderate the Webinar as well as a question and answer session. Study or research and English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) applicants are encouraged to attend the session related to their proposed country of application.

This Webinar is primarily an opportunity to speak with alumni about their experiences. General questions can best be answered by visiting our website:

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat at:

All times are Eastern Time Zone.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

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Monday, July 27, 2009

De-Mystifying Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA), By Jody Dudderar, Assistant Director, Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright Program has offered opportunities for U.S. students to serve as English teachers and teaching assistants at schools, colleges and universities abroad for many years. In recent years, the number of countries offering ETA programs has grown from just a handful to 43 in the current 2010-11 competition.

Currently, ETA positions are available in all world regions and additional countries have been added annually.

Since you may only apply to one country and one program, it is important to select carefully based on your educational and career goals, academic background and preparation, language proficiency, and geographic interests.

For example, ETAs in South Korea, Indonesia, and India are placed in elementary and middle/secondary schools and knowledge of the host country language at the time of application is not required. However, ETAs in South America and Mexico usually will be working with university and adult students and must have proficiency in the host country language. Program placements and language pre-requisites for the countries in Europe vary widely. Applicants are advised to read the Country Summaries carefully to learn about the nature of each program and any specific requirements. You should make certain that your Statement of Grant Purpose very clearly states why you have chosen a particular program and country, how your experience, training and skills match the type of placement in the country, and what you expect to contribute to and take away from an ETA experience.

Most ETA programs expect that grantees will engage in supplementary activities such as an independent academic, vocational, or community service project. You should briefly describe what you would like to do in the Statement of Grant Purpose. Because applicants will not know exactly where they will be located, this is not expected to be detailed. Applicants also should not make any location-specific plans for ancillary project. You simply need to indicate the activity or activities that you intend to pursue outside of the ETA responsibilities and why you have chosen this activity or these activities for the country to which you are applying.

Since you are only allowed one page for the Statement of Grant Purpose, you may wish to carry over some description of your supplementary activity or your personal interests in choosing an ETA Grant or a particular country to your Personal Statement. The combination of the two statements should be designed to cover all areas indicated above and any other relative information about you and the contributions that you can make as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

Finally, a few tips about applying for an English Teaching Assistantship:

Beware of the Competition Statistics

Some ETA programs are brand new and therefore may not have received many applications or much publicity in the previous year. In addition, the number of applications for ETA programs overall has doubled in the last two years, a reflection of the growth in the number of countries participating. Given this, you can not reliably predict the number of applications for this competition based on last year's numbers.

Supplementary Activities

If you have a very specific proposal for study or research, you may wish to consider the study/research grant option, since in the ETA program you will not be able to choose where you will be placed, nor will you have enough time outside of the classroom to carry out extensive research. Furthermore, successful ETA's are those who value the experience of working in an educational environment first and foremost.

Prior experience or training in teaching

Experience or training in teaching may be required or strongly preferred in some countries and not particularly relevant in others. Read the Participating Country Summaries and speak to an IIE Program Manager when in doubt.

Extensive experience or training in teaching

Remember, this is a student program. For some country programs, persons with university-level teaching experience or more than four years of teaching in schools, as well as persons who have completed a master's degree in TESOL or a related field may be overqualified. In other cases, those with teaching experience are preferred. You may not fit perfectly the criteria of the country program to which you would like to apply, however, if you have specific reasons why you feel you would benefit from an ETA grant to that country then be sure to express this clearly in your Statement of Grant Purpose. Contact an IIE Program Manager if you have questions. We would encourage you to consider applying to those countries where your qualifications best match the requirements.

Feedback from current ETAs around the world indicates that, in many ways, this program exemplifies the original mission and goals of the Fulbright Program to increase mutual understanding among the people of the United States and the people of other countries. By reaching out to recent U.S. university graduates, in particular, and placing grantees throughout the host country, the ETA programs have broadened the Fulbright Program’s reach and impact, and grantees are having the time of their lives!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Requesting Letters of Recommendation, By Joe Schall, Giles Writer-in-Residence, Pennsylvania State University

Frequently, students are not aware of the conventions they should adhere to when asking for a letter of recommendation, and they approach faculty members either too nervously or in too pushy a manner. To be sure you are approaching the process professionally, follow these six principles:

1. Think Through the Application Process First

Before you approach anyone for a letter of recommendation, identify the number of people that you will need and the type of materials that you have to prepare. Many references will expect you to know this before they agree to write a letter.

2. Use the Application Materials to Help You Choose Letter Writers

Application materials are your best ally in choosing the best letter writers. Some applications, for instance, encourage you to choose individuals who can speak to your teaching ability or character rather than those with the highest stature. Take this advice seriously and follow it, seeking a best fit rather than a big name.

3. Choose People Who Know You Well and Help Them to Know You Better

Avoid abruptly asking someone for a recommendation letter after class, in the hallway, or via e-mail. Instead, make an appointment to discuss your needs. Offer the letter writer any materials that might help him or her write a more detailed letter, such as your resume or a draft of a research proposal that you prepared.

4. Respect a “No”

If someone you ask for a letter seems to be saying “no” to you, seek someone else. The person may be too busy or may not write you a positive letter.

5. Waive Your Access Rights and Invite the Letter Writer to Discuss Your Grades

On an application form, you will usually be asked if you wish to waive, i.e., give up your right to see the letter of recommendation. Do so. The letter writer will then be more comfortable and probably more genuine too, and the selection committee will expect and respect this. Also, invite the professor to discuss your grades, either to applaud them or to help explain any inconsistencies.

6. Provide the Letter Writer with a Deadline and a Stamped Addressed Envelope

Be sure you know to whom the letter is to be addressed, and give the writer a stamped addressed envelope to mail it in. Provide an exact deadline for the letter’s completion and gently remind the letter writer of it later, if necessary.

The above is adapted from Joe Schall's Writing Recommendation Letters: A Faculty Handbook, with the author's permission. Questions can be directed to Joe Schall (

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reminder: Webinar with Fulbright Alumni for Applicants in the Creative/Performing Arts, Tuesday July 21, 2009, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Alumni of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in the creative and performing arts will discuss their Fulbright experiences. IIE Program Managers will moderate the webinar as well as a question and answer session. Study or research and English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) applicants are encouraged to attend the session related to their proposed country of application.

This webinar is primarily an opportunity to speak with alumni about their experiences. General questions can be answered by visiting our website:

Space is limited.

Reserve your spot for Tuesday's webinar at:

All times are Eastern Time Zone.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Applying to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, By Katie Ladewski, 2005-2006, Chile

I was drawn to the Fulbright Program because I identified with the program’s character. I am an intellectual. I am a civic participant and volunteer. I am a student. I am a family member and a friend. I represent my university and my community wherever I go. I have a strong sense of who I am, and I realized that the Fulbright U.S. Student Program emphasized the values I hoped to cultivate.

There are a lot of exciting opportunities out there for recent graduates and budding intellectuals. We can apply for scholarships to study at top universities around the world. We can volunteer in places from South America to the South Pacific and everywhere in between. The Fulbright Program, however, captured my imagination with its promise of a unique combination of cultural exchange, community involvement, and intellectual growth. I’m sure all of the programs I considered would have been amazing opportunities, but the Fulbright Program’s goals reflected the kind of experience I hoped to have and the kind of person I aspired to be.

It also helped that the Fulbright Program had a thriving exchange program with Chile, a country in which I had a keen interest. I had studied abroad in Santiago and had written an undergraduate honors thesis on the Chilean education system. In the ten weeks I spent in Chile during my study abroad program in Santiago, I had thrown myself into life with my Chilean host family, my classes, and my research. But the time was too short, and I left feeling like I had so much more to give and to learn.

The Fulbright Program offered a unique opportunity for me to return to Chile and pursue a more in-depth research project while immersing myself in Chilean life. I had studied economics as an undergrad and had always been interested in education. Studying Chile's education voucher system presented an exciting opportunity to merge these two interests. Because one of the most hotly debated issues in Chile is how to improve educational opportunities for vulnerable students around the country, I chose to focus on the inequality in educational resource distribution among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. I spent three days a week doing quantitative research at a university and two days observing and volunteering in schools throughout Santiago, and later in my project, throughout Chile.

My research was a primary reason for my stay in Chile, but I was heartened to know that spending time with my host family, talking with students and teachers during my research project, volunteering with rural children, and competing on a swim team were all considered respectable and worthwhile. The Fulbright Program valued the parts of my experience I valued – everything.

The Fulbright Program is an intense commitment of time and energy. A successful experience requires hard work, perseverance, patience, flexibility, and a sense of humor. But it is also an experience that will help you evolve into the kind of intellectual, civic participant, volunteer, student, family member, friend and community ambassador you hope to become. If you’re anything like me, I can promise you that the Fulbright experience will change your life.

Photo: Katie Ladewski (right) with students in rural Chile, 2006.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

2009 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship Winners

The 2009 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship winners have been announced on the U.S. Department of State's Dipnote blog. Click here to read more.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Preparing for Your Fulbright Campus Committee Interview, By Paul Bohlmann, Fulbright Program Adviser, Harvard College

Please note: If you are not currently enrolled in a U.S. institution of higher learning or are unable to apply through your home campus or alma mater, you may apply At-Large. This includes U.S. students studying at institutions outside of the U.S. or students attending institutions where there is not a Fulbright Program Adviser.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program expects every currently enrolled student - graduating seniors as well as graduate and professional school students - to submit their application for a Fulbright grant through their campus Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) and to participate in the on-campus evaluation process.

This submission will always involve a formal review of your application materials by a campus committee and a campus committee interview. These assessments provide invaluable information to national screening committees here in the U.S. in the fall, as well as to overseas screening committees in the spring.

For enrolled students, campus committee interviews are extremely important. Not only does this interview allow you to supplement your written and supporting materials, but the process also allows a committee to assess - in person - the convergence of your project with the Fulbright Program's goals and standards. In a nutshell, the interview provides an opportunity for a committee to gauge how ready you are for the challenges of prolonged immersion in a new culture, as well as how prepared you are to pursue the project you have proposed.

To understand the importance of your campus committee interview, keep one essential fact in mind: this interview will be the only occasion you have in the entire review process, here in the U.S. and overseas, to make a personal case for your abilities to live abroad and to undertake your project successfully. Knowing what to expect in your interview and taking the time to prepare as well as you can are crucial.

What to Expect

Campus committee interview procedures vary from institution to institution. Generally, you can expect to meet with faculty members or administrators who have read through your application materials carefully and who are familiar with your field, your destination, and the Fulbright process. FPAs recruit committee members from a range of disciplines and with a variety of international experiences, but all of them will have an interest in the Fulbright Program, as well as in your success in applying for a grant.

The Fulbright Program expects that each campus committee interview will result in a campus committee evaluation (form #10 in the application). These evaluations must address six basic questions for each enrolled candidate:

• What are your academic or professional qualifications to pursue your project?
• How valid and feasible is your proposed project?
• What are your language qualifications to pursue your proposed project?
• Do you seem mature, motivated, and able to adapt to new cultural environments?
• What do you know about your host country?
• What sort of ambassadorial potential do you have in representing the U.S. abroad?

Like many interviews, dialogue with your campus committee may be unpredictable, unfolding in several directions. Unlike many interviews, however, you can actually anticipate content - everything you are asked will be designed to address the above questions, usually in the space of about 30 minutes or longer. Because some of this information will be clear in your written and supporting materials, a fair amount of your interview may address questions of personal suitability: Why are you applying? Are you open to new experiences and ideas? How do you meet challenges or difficulties? Do you interact with people easily? Are you eager to go abroad?

You should expect a portion of your campus committee interview to be conducted in the language of your host country, whether or not you will use that language in your everyday work. You should also expect to demonstrate an interest in and knowledge of your host country that goes beyond the specific disciplinary focus of your proposal.

One further note about your interview: you will be evaluated only in comparison with your peers and against set standards. In other words, a graduating senior will not be measured against a more advanced graduate student, nor will a graduate student be measured against a graduating senior with less experience. Neither will be measured against other individuals in the same applicant pool. This commitment keeps the playing field level throughout the evaluation process.

Take Time to Prepare

Because the campus committee interview is an opportunity for you to make your case in person, be sure to invest some time in preparing for it. The degree to which you prepare will speak volumes about your conscientiousness and enthusiasm; it will boost your confidence and help you give articulate answers to committee members' questions.

A basic starting point in preparing for any interview is self-assessment - think about yourself in a specific setting and reflect on your abilities to be successful in that setting. What experience, knowledge, skills, or special training do you have to make you confident in your ability to pursue your project? What aptitudes, experience, or personal traits do you have to make you confident in your ability to navigate a new cultural environment?

Take some time to review the contents of your application, particularly your statement of proposed study and your curriculum vitae, and be prepared to expand on any of this. If your project gets more refined after you submit your application, be prepared to introduce these developments in your interview. Think about your supporting materials. How do your recommenders know you and what might they say about you? Can you talk about a paper you wrote for a course, a tutoring job, or a performance, even though you may not have written about these experiences yourself? Can you talk about each of the courses on your transcript?

In preparing your application, you will already have done some research on your host country and host institution, if appropriate, with an eye to the specifics of your project and to current events. But it won’t hurt to refresh your memory before your interview, especially knowing that the Fulbright Program hopes that you will establish connections in your host country beyond the scope of your project. The Internet, your local or campus library, and newsstands are valuable resources.

Basic Interview Advice

The best advice for your interview is simple: be yourself. Interviewers expect to meet in person the individual they already have "met" on paper, and you can flounder if you try to be someone you're not. Therefore, concentrating on being your best self is important. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be courteous to those you meet, and be honest in your interview. Your impression on the interviewers really does matter.

Without rehearsing or scripting answers, keep the six basic questions mentioned above in mind as you go into your interview. This preparation will help you focus on the sort of information you share and the points you'll want to make with your interviewers. Feel free to take a moment to think before you answer a question or to ask for clarification if you don't understand a question. If you can't answer a question, say so, but try to connect it to something you do know. If you feel you've said something you wish you hadn't, you can address this issue directly later in the interview. Be sure to address each of your answers to everyone in the room.

It's natural to feel nervous before an interview. Taking care of yourself beforehand by preparing, getting a good night's sleep, eating a healthy meal, and giving yourself time to arrive promptly will help calm your nerves. If you can be comfortable with the interview as it unfolds, you'll communicate confidence and self-reliance, qualities that will inevitably serve you well during a year overseas.


The campus committee interview is a formal part of your Fulbright application, and it is an important component in the evaluation of your candidacy, here in the U.S. and abroad. Treat it accordingly. But also try to enjoy the experience as much as you can; this is a singular opportunity for you to share your thoughts and aspirations with people who genuinely care about them.

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