We Are the “They” That Can Change the World: My Hult Prize Experience

I have always been passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Studying economics as an undergrad exposed me to the field’s power and how it can be used as a tool More »

A Year of Knee Research and Social Outreach in the Rainbow Nation

My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties More »

Detecting Gravitational Waves at Home and Abroad

Two months ago, physicists around the world were set ‘chirping’ with the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected for the first time. The detection is the culmination of decades of work, More »

Faces of Williamson, West Virginia: A Photo Essay

I’ve only been in Williamson, West Virginia for 48 hours and even though it’s not enough time to have a deep sense of everything that is happening in town, I’ve found a More »

 

U.S. Diplomat in Germany Reflects on Value of Fulbright Experience

By Fulbright Staff

In front of the Brandenburg Gate, the famous sign warns that one is about to leave West Berlin. Photo credit: Jeffrey A. VanDreal

Jeff VanDreal has spent the last 30 years as an American diplomat, representing the United States overseas on four continents and managing some of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world. Before joining the U.S. Foreign Service, he studied in Berlin in 1986-1987 as a Fulbright U.S. Student to West Germany. He’s back in Germany now, this time as the Minister-Counselor for Management Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

We recently interviewed VanDreal to learn more about his experience in Berlin prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to ask how his Fulbright experience prepared him for a global career in American diplomacy.

How did you originally hear about the Fulbright Program, and who/what inspired you to apply?

I had known, vaguely, about the Fulbright Program since high school, as I had always been interested in student exchange programs. It never occurred to me to actually apply, however, until a colleague of mine at St. Antony’s College in Oxford, UK, successfully applied for a grant. As I was finishing my master’s degree in International Relations, I had applied to the Foreign Service but wished to extend my studies for one more year. The Fulbright Program provided the perfect vehicle for doing so.

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2017 Fulbright Year in Review

This year, Fulbrighters from the United States and all over the world made breakthrough discoveries and created lasting connections. Take a look back at this year’s highlights in the 2017 Fulbright Year in Review.

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Top Ten Fulbright Student Articles of 2017


TOP 10 FULBRIGHT STUDENT BLOG POSTS OF 2017 by Fulbright on Exposure

Have a Fulbright story you’d like to tell? We’d love to hear your story – and from you. Contact us here.

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Making It Work the Second Time: My Path to Fulbright

By James Kale, II, 2017-2018, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Brazil

James Kale, II, 2017-2018, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Brazil

Standing in the middle of the blacktop, watching my students play—the air brisk, the skies gray and the sun fighting to reveal itself—my pocket is furiously buzzing. I quickly grab my phone and remove it from my pocket in a panic, thinking it might be a parent calling or some emergency.

While unlocking my phone, I see that there are two emails and a text message exclaiming, “Congratulations!” from two of my Fulbright recommenders and the Boston College Graduate School Fulbright Program Adviser. In wide-eyed amazement, I quickly scroll through my email, looking for a message from the Fulbright Program. To my surprise, I received a gift, a surprise on my birthday. For the very first time, one of my dreams had come to life.

I am James Kale, II, and I will soon be embarking on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Brazil!

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Exchanging Cultures, Building Friendships: A Fulbright Thanksgiving Story

By Mehnaz Tabassum, 2017-2018, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Bangladesh

A candid moment from the Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Lecturer Thuy-Anh T. Nguyen (second from left) with fellow Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants

Editor’s note: Did you celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States or abroad this year as a Fulbrighter? We’d love to hear your story! Send us a note or share it on social media with #Fulbright.

A Bangladeshi, an Italian, a Thai, an Indian, an elderly Filipino couple, and three Vietnamese people sat down for dinner at a Vietnamese-American house. This may sound like the start of a clichéd joke, but this was exactly what my first-ever Thanksgiving feast looked like.

This year, thanks to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA), I had the opportunity to be in the United States for this one-of-a-kind celebration. I had heard and learned about Thanksgiving through the Internet over the years, and I grew up looking at sumptuous Thanksgiving meal illustrations in Archie comics; where the biggest, juiciest turkey and other mouthwatering foods were served.

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