Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

It’s Earth Day! How Are Fulbrighters Celebrating in Their Host and Home Communities?

Today is Earth Day! We invite all current and past Fulbrighters to share their stories about how they are helping to improve the environment locally – in their home and host communities – and globally. How are you spending Earth Day 2015? Let us know!

Fulbright Foreign Students at DC Seminar 2015

Fulbright Foreign Students participating in the Potomac Watershed Cleanup as part of the 2015 Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Washington, DC for first-year, non-U.S. grantees



Engaging with Your Host Community During Fulbright

By Sharief El-Gabri, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan

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Sharief El-Gabri, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan, with Ahmed, one of the refugee, high-school students who helped run the sports facility in the Gaza Refugee Camp

If you are thinking about applying for a Fulbright grant, you need to consider how you plan to interact with your host community. After all, Fulbright’s core tenet is cultural exchange. Of course, show off your impressive research proposal or your comprehensive English teaching playbook, but your time as a Fulbrighter will likely be memorialized by serendipitous interactions with your community. Embrace those opportunities because you are prepared and have considered how you would like to carve out your Fulbright experience.

Looking back on my Fulbright experience in Amman, Jordan in 2010-2011, I really cherish my time outside of my primary English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) responsibilities. I had sufficient free time to engage in a substantive community engagement project. Outside of my ETA obligations and studying Arabic, I helped build a sports facility in the Gaza Refugee Camp.

Happy Birthday, Senator J. William Fulbright!

Today is Senator J. William Fulbright’s 110th Birthday!

In the spirit of promoting mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, we encourage all Fulbrighters worldwide, past and present, to engage with your local home or host communities. To learn more about the history of the program, and Senator J. William Fulbright’s legacy, check out the video below.

Want to share your Fulbright community engagement stories here on the blog? Click here to learn what we’ll need from you.

It Takes a Fulbright Village: My Journey Toward Becoming an Effective Fulbright Program Adviser

By Karen Wachsmuth, Fulbright Program Adviser, University of Iowa

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University of Iowa Fulbright Program Adviser Karen Wachsmuth (fourth from left) at a University of Iowa Fulbright Student Organization Brown Bag lunch on Nov. 14, 2014

I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, but helping students devise the “right strategy” for applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award has been a daunting task. As the Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) at the University of Iowa, a Big Ten institution with more than 30,000 students, it’s my job to assist students in their quest for this unparalleled, life-transforming opportunity. As someone who chose the risky and highly competitive path of pursuing classical music as a career, I thrived on the concept of “following my passion.” Encouraging students to do the same comes easily to me. Although I immediately felt an affinity with the challenge of excellence that Fulbright represented, the “correct path” to a Fulbright award seems more elusive. The steps to a career in music–yes, “practice, practice, practice”–were well-defined and easy to grasp. But how does an applicant best prepare for a Fulbright? What are the most important criteria? By the end of my first Fulbright competition season, I felt slightly dazed. My mind was numbed by too many questions, just like the unfortunate character Meno being questioned by the “stingray-like” Socrates in Plato’s dialogue. I had completed the submission process, but was unsure as to whether or not I had been truly effective as an adviser.

The questions I had about my role as an FPA, which requires me to wear different hats, were many. To start with, Fulbright awards—teaching, research, study, creative work—come in all shapes and sizes, varying by country, language requirements, candidate profile, etc. How do I create awareness of these diverse and exciting Fulbright opportunities on my campus? How should I recruit the most appropriate applicants? What are the key steps in advising? What tools do I need to be more effective? What are the most important criteria for a successful application? And, without years of experience with the position coupled with some success, how can I know which strategies work? Lastly, how can I best encourage and support these ambitious students during the process?

Baking Ereba, Building Community

Kia Hall, 2011-2012, Honduras

Kia Hall

Kia Hall, 2011-2012, Honduras, baking Ereba in Ciriboya, Iriona, Honduras

During the 2011-2012 academic year, I had a Fulbright U.S. Student grant to Honduras. My research was about the women who bake cassava bread in the Afro-indigenous Garifuna community. In the Garifuna language, cassava bread is called ereba (uh-ray-buh). I studied how the women are using culinary tradition of ereba making as a means to economic development. Below is a picture of me trying to actually bake some ereba, which is harder than it looks.

In Honduras, I was also a cultural ambassador. Through my research I met a Garifuna woman, Lina Hortensia Martinez, who buys ereba in the villages and sells flavored cassava chips in the city. I built a bilingual website for her organization. You can take a look at

As a doctoral candidate in International Relations, my Fulbright experience launched my research career, and I have presented my findings throughout the country and in Latin America. My Fulbright experience was also life changing and deepened my understanding of development issues and challenges. Previously, many of them were only scholarly concepts before they came to life in my community experiences. I am forever indebted to the communities of Ciriboya, Punta Piedra and Cusuna, in the Iriona region of Honduras, where I was based during my 10-month stay.