Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

Life After Chernobyl

By Michael Forster Rothbart, 2008-2009, Ukraine

Michael Forster Rothbart

Michael Forster Rothbart, 2008-2009, Ukraine, taking photos in the Semikhody graveyard less than a mile from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The following blog post is by alumnus Michael Forster Rothbart, who coordinated the compilation and assembly of the current Fulbright Alumni Photography Exhibit, now showing in The Atrium Gallery at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, through November 10, 2014. Opening reception and gala to be held at the gallery on Friday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. Visit the gallery’s Facebook page to learn more.

One month into my Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to Ukraine, I moved to Sukachi, a village of 1,200, ten miles from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

What’s it like to live near Chernobyl? It depends who you ask. “Is it even safe?” they asked in Kyiv. “Why would you want to live up there, in the middle of nowhere?!” But when people in Sukachi asked where I lived, I said I rented a room from Nina. “Oh, how convenient,” they’d say. “That’s right in the middle of the village!”

I made friends. I drank vodka with my landlord Nina. I drank tea with Viktor. I photographed my neighbors. Sasha, a recovering alcoholic, taught me how to cut hay. Slava, a doctor at the Chernobyl plant, taught me to make borscht. I went to church. I lived my life like the locals as much as I possibly could.

My commitment to this project began when I discovered how most photojournalists distort Chernobyl. They visit briefly, expecting danger and despair, and come away with photos of deformed children and abandoned buildings. This sensationalist approach obscures the more complex stories about how displaced communities adapt and survive.

In contrast, I sought to create full portraits of these communities. I saw suffering, but also joy and beauty, endurance and hope. Living directly in the villages where I photographed gave me access to events and people with an insider’s perspective.

Fulbright U.S. Student Applications Are Due Today. Good Luck to All Applicants!

Submitting a Fulbright U.S. Student Program application today by 5:00 p.m. EST and want to know what happens next? Check out our interactive application timeline that shows you what happens month-to-month, before, during – and after – you’ve submitted your online application.

Have last minute questions? Contact us! We wish this year’s applicants the best of luck!

Competition Timeline

The October 14 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Application Deadline is Next Week! Check Out These Last Minute Resources.

Are you in the process of putting the finishing touches on your Fulbright U.S. Student Program application? Make sure you’ve carefully reviewed our application checklists before hitting submit.

App Checklist Screenshot





Have a country specific question and want to contact someone? You can call or email a Fulbright World Area Manger or a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador who has expertise and experience in the country to which you are applying. Good luck!

The Importance of a Smile: Creating a Culture of English in a Spanish High School

By Rio Bauce, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Spain

Rio - 1

Rio Bauce, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Spain (right, standing), observing a student delegate speak about clean water in a UN conference committee in CRIF Las Acacias in Madrid

I would like to dedicate this post to my mother, Meryl Zelda Kolevzon, who has provided me with the inspiration for this article. In August 1998, she passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. She would have been 69 on October 9th, 2014. Her ability to smile through all of her struggles has showed me the power a smile on those around you, even when they are under difficult circumstances.

The sense of wonder a student feels after a teacher pauses in the middle of a thrilling story, a high-pitched laugh at a joke told on the schoolyard, a parent admiring their child’s drawing of a goat. Curiosity, humor, and joy are emotions that make lasting imprints on a child’s education. In April 2012, I was selected to become a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Madrid, Spain. That September, I left California to be an ETA at IES José Luis Sampedro in Tres Cantos, Spain. On the first day of school, teachers and students at my suburban school thirty kilometers outside of Madrid were nervous to begin school and hoped that everything would function smoothly. From my experience, the last three years teaching in a classroom setting, one of the most powerful tools that teachers have in their arsenal to make students feel safe is an uncompromising smile.

Putting the Final Touches Your Fulbright U.S. Student Program Application? Attend the Last Webinar on October 2!

Have last minute questions and need a few final tips before submitting your online Fulbright U.S. Student Program application on October 14? Attend the last webinar of the 2015-2016 competition on Thursday, October 2!

Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time: 2:00 P.M. EST – 3:00 P.M. EST

Fulbright U.S. Student Program staff will share tips and advice for polishing and finalizing your application.


The webinar will start at 2:00 p.m. and end at 3:00 p.m.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar. If you have not already, you will need to download the GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar client software.

System Requirements:

Windows: Windows XP or newer
Mac: OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or newer

Miss the last webinar on polishing your application? Check out the recorded version right here:

Polishing Your Application Webinar from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.