Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

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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Leveraging Fulbrighters’ Insights for American Classrooms: The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program and Reach the World

By Christopher Ahearn, Director of Partnerships, Reach the World

Katherine Long, 2016-2017, Tajikistan (right), playing a game with two young Tajik girls.

For nearly ten years, Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have had the opportunity to volunteer with Reach the World (RTW) to share their experiences abroad with pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms back home in the United States.

RTW utilizes the power of virtual exchange to enable Fulbright ETAs, who apply to volunteer with RTW, to bring their host country into an engaged classroom of American students. Fulbright ETAs share many aspects of life in another country with their student audiences in the United States, from grilled meats in Argentina to the unique plant life in the Maltese archipelago. These talented, passionate recent college graduates and early career professionals also capture rare, extraordinary experiences, like visiting the remote Caño Cristales river in Colombia. As young learners from throughout the United States interact with Fulbright ETAs, they are building vital global competencies that will serve them for years to come while challenging their perspectives about the world and their role as citizens. These global competencies include such things as increased geographic literacy and a greater desire to travel, changes in empathetic thinking when encountering difference, and pursuing higher education opportunities.

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