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U.S. Fulbright

Final Steps Before You Submit Electronically, By IIE Staff

October 7, 2009

As you prepare to submit your application, please make sure to take the following steps:

1. Click on the Preview button. Make sure that all data is correct and that your responses were not cut off due to size limitations.

2. Print the application before electronically submitting it.

3. When complete, click the Print function.

Please note that we will accept only applications that are printed in PDF format. DO NOT submit applications printed in HTML format.

Missing university fields in started online applications

We have had several Fulbright Program Advisers comment that they are not able to see some of their candidates in the online application database. It is important that you fill in your institution’s name and Fulbright Program Adviser’s information on page one of the application. Check the final hard copy to make sure this information has been included on the Student Record Card (if you are applying through a U.S. college or university and have also included your name). We urge you to complete the basic data: Name, Country of Application, Field of Study, and Academic Affiliation or At-Large, as soon as possible.

U.S. Fulbright

Tips on Submitting Your Application, By Walter Jackson, Program Manager, Fulbright U.S. Student Program

October 1, 2009

Submitting your Application

1. Don’t forget that all applications must be submitted both electronically AND in hard-copy PDF format. Please carefully follow the instructions for printing your online application, available on the application system website. Please keep a paper copy of your application.

2. Electronic applications MUST be submitted by midnight, Pacific Daylight Time, on October 19, 2009. The application system will not be available after that time. If you do not submit by midnight on the 19th, you will not be able to submit your application. You should receive an email confirming that your online application was submitted. If you do not receive this email, please contact Embark’s technical support immediately.

3. The deadline for receipt of the hard copy of the Fulbright applications is October 21, 2009. This is NOT a postmark date.

4. IIE cannot confirm the receipt of any documents, whether it is your Fulbright application, letters of support or any other supplementary information. Please do not contact us about receipt of all of your documents. We recommend that you send materials to IIE in a traceable format such as FedEx, UPS, etc.

5. Please ensure that your application is printed on only one side of a page.

6. Don’t forget to SIGN the application at the bottom of Page 1 of the PDF version of your application.

After Submitting your Application

1. Continue to work on your language skills. Even if you don’t receive a grant, the time and effort you put into language study will pay off.

2. You are welcome to submit letters of support from your in-country host affiliations after the deadline, but we make no guarantee that the letters will be matched with your application in time for review.

3. All applicants will be informed by email of the status of their application at the end of January. If you do not receive an email by February 5, 2010, please contact us.

4. If you need to change your mailing address after you’ve submitted your application, you must do so by letter or by email. We will not accept address changes over the phone.

5. Candidates who are recommended to the host country for further consideration will learn the final decision by the end of spring 2010.

6. Please note that for some country programs (i.e., Swiss Government Grants, English Teaching Assistants for France or Germany, etc.) additional applications will be required. Applicants recommended for these programs will be contacted at the appropriate time and will be given the opportunity to complete the next steps of the application process.

U.S. Fulbright Unknown

Changing Farming Practices in Nicaragua

September 23, 2009

The original concept of my Fulbright project was to strengthen the link between technical and financial resources available to small farmers in Nicaragua to promote more sustainable farming practices. My contacts included the National Autonomous University (UNAN) and the Center for the Promotion of Local Development (CEPRODEL), a micro-finance institution. A reforestation project involving the two institutions was already in the works, and by mid-April I was working full time organizing trainings and processing the participating farms’ evaluations.

With faculty from the Agroecology Department at UNAN, we organized trainings for the families of 24 CEPRODEL clients in soil conservation, organic fertilizers, organic pest control as well as proper establishment and care of trees. We emphasized the importance of ecological and financial sustainability through long-term business planning.

Teaching the workshops and following up with technical assistance required us to stay with participating families in the countryside. I have been warned by all my Nicaraguan friends that life in the country is very rough. The roads are often in terrible condition and are notorious mud traps during the rainy season. On our way out to the community, our pickup truck slid sideways, and we found ourselves jammed into a soft bank of mud with the back wheels elevated, completely blocking the road on the first day of trainings. After we tried to free the truck futilely using tree branches, 4-wheel-drive and pushing, a neighbor accomplished the task with his two oxen in minutes.

I was prepared for stark poverty, no electricity, no running water, simple meals and lots of mosquitoes. All of the above proved true. What I wasn’t prepared for was a host family so generous they hunted iguanas and killed a sheep so that we would eat meat instead of just beans, finding that my mosquito net was more useful in keeping bat dung off my bed than protecting me from mosquitoes and realizing that tropical ant bites hurt a lot more than mosquito bites. After the workshops ended, I spent my evenings with the family’s children, trying fruits growing wild in the nearby woods, exploring a river with waterfalls and rapids, making compost piles and helping to clear the acres of brush where trees from the reforestation project will be planted.

After several nights of long conversations by candlelight with my host family about my life in the States and the differences between our cultures, I began to realize that what I want this project to become is more than the strengthening of technical and financial resources available to Nicaragua’s small farmers. Instead of feeling deprived and being labeled poor, I want them to admire their beautiful land, to treasure the abundant natural resources and to be proud of the riches they are passing on to their children. Like the oxen who proved much more effective than our pickup truck in the mud, many elements of rural life are undervalued in our current society. In addition to changing our fiscal practices to work toward a just world, we need to change our value system to include the priceless riches of rural life.

Linking technical assistance with financial credit has helped Pedro Mendoza (left) maintain an impressive diversity: he farms cattle, five different grains and vegetables, three different fruits (including cashew) in addition to producing organic compost and honey. Along with providing loans to buy seeds and calves, CEPRODEL has helped him find new markets for his crops and improve the genetic makeup of his cattle herd.

Technical assistant Vernonn Berios and I use a motorcycle to visit as many clients as we can in one day and navigate the dirt roads that larger vehicles can’t access. Limited transportation options hinder market access for small farmers who sometimes have to travel whole days with oxen to reach a market.

Top photo: Engaging the reforestation project families in project and educational activities, especially young children, promotes an ongoing community dialogue about sustainable farming practices such as making compost piles and helps ensure their implementation.

To read more about Rachel Lindsay’s Fulbright experiences, please visit her blog.

U.S. Fulbright

On Being a Fulbrighter in the Developing World, By Michelle R. Kaufman, 2007-2008, Nepal

September 7, 2009

My Fulbright grant took me to Nepal, where I lived in Kathmandu and studied women’s reproductive health. I consider receiving a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant one of my greatest achievements so far, and as cliché as it sounds, it really was the experience of a lifetime. I was fortunate enough to be there during one of the most historic times in Nepali history—when the monarchy was abolished and the Maoists were elected to a majority of the Parliament seats.

My research involved designing and pilot testing a sexual health education program for Nepali women. With the help of a Nepali research assistant, I first completed a series of interviews and focus groups with various women about their experiences and previous sex education. Based on the data gathered from these interviews, I then designed a program called Let’s Talk!, which taught women about basic sex education, STDs/HIV, proper male and female condom use, various forms of birth control and how to discuss using protection with one’s partner. The results were far more successful than I anticipated they would be, and I established what will be lifelong relationships with several people.

But undertaking a Fulbright grant in the developing world is not easy, nor was every day fun. To be perfectly honest, there were many days when I would have jumped on a plane and left had I been given the chance. Battling things like fuel shortages, 40 hours a week without electricity, pollution, a lack of hot water (or no water at all), and being paranoid that everything I put in my mouth contained parasites or bacteria made my fellowship challenging in ways that pushed me to my limits. To be a Fulbrighter in the developing world takes a whole other skill set that many people, including myself, could not have anticipated.

Nepali people are so kind in general and genuinely helpful that even when things were tough, I had a supportive community. I made close friends with Nepalis my age, was offered help with my research and was invited for tea and dhal bhaat (a traditional Nepali meal) on many occasions. I was treated just like a member of the family. When I was dealing with challenges and missing my support network back in the U.S., my Nepali family stepped in.

Reflecting upon my time in Nepal, I now realize that even though it was occasionally a challenging experience—perhaps the hardest experience of my life—it was also one of the most valuable. I now appreciate more of the little things I took for granted in my life back in the U.S. (clean water, reliable transportation, sanitation, and uninterrupted electricity). And I find that I have a better understanding and deeper level of empathy for the way most of the rest of the world lives. But most importantly, I understand how important family and close friends are in getting through trying times. Living among Nepali people taught me that as long as you have that support, everything else is tik chha—Okay.

My advice to those pursuing a Fulbright grant in the developing world is threefold. First, keep in mind as you apply for the fellowship, additional challenges will exist. The experience of a Fulbrighter in France will be far different from that of a Fulbrighter in say, Uganda, simply because of the additional challenges of meeting your basic needs. While a Fulbrighter in these two countries will have similar experiences in terms of adjusting to cultural differences and perhaps the language barrier, the additional adjustment of going from the developed world to the developing will be tough.

Second, when you get to your host country, take the time to immerse yourself in the local community and find a support network. Having a “family” in your host country will be your most valuable asset. Also, find other foreigners, whether they be other Fulbrighters, expatriates, or Embassy staff. Having a community of people to talk to as you go through the adjustment process will make it much smoother. When you can laugh together about picking up intestinal bacteria, it makes it easier to handle!

And finally, go with a sense of humor. Leave behind your need for control. I found that the best way to cope with the adjustment to a different culture, environment and way of life required accepting the fact that most of what was happening around me was completely out of my hands. And when I could laugh about it, laugh at myself and how I reacted in the situations, I was better able to cope. This was probably the biggest change I saw in myself as a result of my Fulbright experience and it was for the best.

My time in Nepal as a Fulbrighter will continue to transform me and my research—perhaps for years to come. I continue to be in close contact with my Nepali family and look forward to visiting them again in the near future. Although it challenged me and pushed my limits in many ways, I would never trade the experience for anything.

Photo: Michelle R. Kaufman, 2007-2008, Nepal, shows a group of rural Nepali children a digital photo of themselves on the trail to Nagarkot.

U.S. Fulbright

Ethiopic Manuscript Culture and Its European Analogues, By Sean Winslow, 2008-2009, Ethiopia

August 31, 2009

As a scholar of the development of book technology, I have spent a lot of time studying physical objects and wondering about the mindset craftsmen had while producing books in the Ancient and Medieval periods. Since the production of manuscript books in Europe died out centuries ago, it is impossible to ask the producers about their techniques. The tradition of manuscript production that exists (in a reduced state) in the Islamic world is different enough from the one practiced during historical Christendom to limit its utility for the study of traditional European bookmaking. That is why I was excited, during the course of my research, to discover that manuscript bookmaking still survives in the Christian highlands of Ethiopia; it was simply a matter of getting the time and funds to go.

My Fulbright research project, Ethiopic Manuscript Culture and Its European Analogues, documents the remaining craft and tradition of book production in Ethiopia, and applies that knowledge more broadly to the history of book production in Europe and the Mediterranean world. Ethiopia was isolated from the Muslim conquests until the 20th century. As a result, it maintains a largely 4th-5th century style of book production. Additionally, it served as a bridge between the Mediterranean and Arab worlds: the traditional Islamic codex (like the modern book format) is based upon a form learned from Ethiopia, so comparative codicology (the study of books as physical objects) in the two traditions could help shed light on historical innovations in book production.

Based upon my interviews, I have attempted to gain insight into the mindsets of traditionally trained scribes and parchmenters, even learning a bit about magic writing and scroll-production along the way! The interviews have taken me through a large swath of the country; from towns to the remote countryside, bringing me into contact with many interesting people, some of whom I have interviewed and photographed. There has also been a great synergy between my field research and photography.

I had to apply twice to be awarded a Fulbright grant, so my primary advice to applicants would be, “Be persistent.” The second time I applied, I spent a lot more time preparing by briefing my referees on the nature of the project and allowing more time for revising application documents. I think the time spent working on the application, the additional research and the language preparation I undertook all helped. I would encourage potential grantees to start early and to take their time during the application stage.


Marigeta (a type of priest) Birhanu decorates a leather cover on a modern printed book.



Kes (Priest) Fente writing on parchment: traditional scribes produce parchment books using their knee as a writing surface.





The hands of Marigeta Haile Selassie using a bamboo pen to write characters of the native syllabary (called ‘Fidel’) of the Ge’ez language used by the Ethiopian church.




Top photo: Sean Winslow taking advantage of dry season conditions to travel around Tigray, the Northern Province of Ethiopia; Sean’s research focuses on the technological development of the book. During his Fulbright project, Ethiopic Manuscript Culture and Its European Analogues, he interviewed Ethiopia’s last Christian scribes to gain insight into the mindsets of traditional book producers.

U.S. Fulbright

Finding Common Ground Through Music, By Rebecca Miller, 2008-2009, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Indonesia

August 26, 2009

As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in West Papua, Indonesia, my success in the classroom depends on an authentic exchange more than my students’ intellect and dedication to conjugating perfectly in all tenses. Teaching language sets the classroom course into the domain of real time communication – the creation of new words and thoughts – one that requires a space to meet and make meaningful exchanges. The ability to form words and comprehend their meaning is not enough. We all need to talk about something meaningful as well as ears to listen. For my students and me, music is that common ground.

Songs have been the foundation of my classroom curriculum. I never had to teach my students to sing. It is something we already shared. In my experience, Indonesian people love to sing and music is a very open, noncompetitive part of community life. As a teacher and a cultural ambassador, I listen to and learn the songs and stories of my neighbors and colleagues. I incorporate songs I know and love into English class, teaching students lyrics, asking them to write or verbalize their opinions of popular American music or to think critically and respond to the lyrics of songs they play off their cell phones.

I worked very closely with two Indonesian co-teachers who are talented, articulate English speakers and who are required to teach for a national exam that does not encourage functional literacy. My methods seemed strange: clapping games, singing pop songs, writing reflections on the lyrics, playing board games, acting out mini dramas. Why is our bule gila (crazy foreign) teacher making us play a clapping game in English class? To teach my crazy Indonesian students how to follow directions in English! These activities were my way of sharing ideas on how to teach English with my co-teachers. We developed our lesson plans together: they had knowledge of the Indonesian curriculum and fluency in the host culture, and I brought a different perspective on second language acquisition in the forms of games, songs and activities that promote functional literacy.

After school on Wednesdays, I worked with the student band program. I had an instant connection with many of those students because whatever their level of English, and despite my limited proficiency in Indonesian, we could pick up instruments and understand each other. Everyone knew how to play “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns N’ Roses and “All the Small Things” by Blink-182. Actually, everyone but me! Before going to Indonesia, I had never played either of those songs. My students had an “Aha” moment when they found out I didn’t know most of their favorite American rock songs. What a strange moment and true cultural exchange when Indonesian students half my age taught me “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” an American song from before my time.

What I learned through all of this is that in order to make language happen, there must be something to talk about. Without a relationship built on common ground, there is no real reason to keep listening and nothing much to say. This is the power of language – it is a gateway to knowing other people. Authentic cultural exchange happens in little ways. Music helps my students make the leap from learning the rules of a language to finding meaning in it. The lessons from my Fulbright experience, the power of language and the value of common ground in my work as a teacher and in making friendships, have inextricably changed the way I look at life. The world feels smaller and at the same time, no less amazing and intricate.

Photo: Rebecca Miller (center), 2008-2009, Indonesia ETA with some of her students.