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U.S. Fulbright

Social Entrepreneurship and the Fulbright Program

July 29, 2016

Alex Counts, 1988-1989, Bangladesh, crossing a bamboo bridge at the time of the 1989 monsoon during his Fulbright year

From my earliest days contemplating my responsibilities as a global citizen, I have believed that entrepreneurship, and in particular social entrepreneurship, had major roles to play in realizing a better world. For this reason, I was attracted to the idea of microfinance and one of its earliest and most successful examples: the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. This innovative financial institution, which served and was owned by this nation’s poor women, was both an entrepreneurial venture itself that made a modest profit most years, but was also an engine of spurring micro-entrepreneurship on a massive scale through the hundreds of millions of business loans it has provided.

Indeed, I have come to believe that one of the surest paths to sustainable and large-scale social change is to incorporate the discipline of the private sector into empowerment strategies. The Grameen Bank and, later, its affiliated companies, was a shining example of this. During my studies at Cornell, I began a correspondence with Professor Muhammad Yunus, Grameen’s founder, about how I could join forces with him to promote his success model at the international level. He welcomed me to come to Bangladesh after graduation to begin our collaboration.

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Appalachia on the Cusp of Spring

March 14, 2016
Allison Braden, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bangladesh 2013-2014, is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Alumni participant in the Fulbright Amizade 2016 service-learning activity.

Allison Braden, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bangladesh 2013-2014, is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Alumni participant in the Fulbright Amizade 2016 service-learning activity.

I am, frankly, overwhelmed. In the first day and a half of my experience with Amizade in Appalachia, I’ve been forced to confront a swarm of questions that I don’t have answers to and are perhaps unanswerable, but our asking questions without necessarily arriving at conclusions will give shape to the rest of our week.

Today I saw a barber shop called Cuttin’ Up with Belinda. I loved that. I love Americana, and here, it’s everywhere. There are church steeples, American flags, and main streets. There aren’t very many streetlights. My mind jumps from comparison to comparison: Convenience stores selling a little of everything remind me of Bangladesh. The high school football stadium, an island of bright green in a sea of gravel on top of a mined mountain, made me think of Friday Night Lights on TV. The old pickup trucks and main streets remind me of south Georgia and country songs. Despite how different my own community is from the ones I’m getting to visit here and despite West Virginia’s reputation elsewhere in the country, my associations with small town America are almost universally positive. In fact, I have the tendency to romanticize rural communities.

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U.S. Fulbright

Transition Words

June 11, 2014
Alexa Schmidt

Alexa Schmidt, 2011-2012, Fulbright ETA to Bangladesh (center), with a group of her eighth grade students and after school conversational language club members

My flight leaving Bangladesh was brutal—Dhaka to Kolkata to Bangalore to Frankfurt to Philadelphia to Burlington over two and a half days. Yet, just as arriving in Bangladesh was circuitous, it seemed fitting that my departure would also be less than straightforward. Anyway, I needed the time to transition.

The reasons I gave initially to explain my application to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program (ETA) to Bangladesh included my desires to live in a predominately Muslim country, to challenge myself in an environment where few people speak English, and to explore the place most opposite to what I always considered home. I believe I fulfilled all of these desires, but they pale in comparison to what I could say now: Fulbright is an exceptional program which realizes its aims in a truly transformative way. Mutual understanding has become one of my core values and I think about just about everything – from privilege, to nationalism, to sweatshops – differently now.

I was three years out of undergrad when I decided to apply, and for two of those years, I worked in the United States with refugee English Language Learners. My experience teaching English language and working in a cross-cultural setting strengthened my application, but it took time to articulate country-specificity. The key to a strong Fulbright application (whether ETA or study/research) is being able to express both your unique personal history in your personal statement and your ability to engage with your host country through a feasible and well-designed statement of grant purpose.

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U.S. Fulbright

Taking that First Step: Submitting your Fulbright Application

October 30, 2013
Todd McKay

Todd McKay, 2011-2012, Fulbright ETA to Bangladesh, reviews participants’ work at an English speaking and pronunciation workshop in Motijheel, Dhaka, Bangladesh

“Half the battle is applying,” a former linguistics professor of mine once told me. This is the kernel of wisdom—the all-too-true aphorism—that carried me through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program application process.  Since that first sit-down with Fulbright’s online application, I have learned a lot and have had ample time to reflect on the application process and on my time in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I was in the second semester of my MA program in applied linguistics at the University of Utah when thoughts of a Fulbright future first popped into my head. One of the courses in my program was a curriculum design and development course, which included both curricula for foreign language teaching and a professional development component.

“We get so caught up in our academic lives,” my professor said, “that we often forget to work on our professional lives.” She challenged each of us to come up with a practical goal that could be completed by semester’s end.

I decided I wanted to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant, but I didn’t think I was qualified. Truth be told, I was downright afraid of applying for a Fulbright grant. I was an okay, but by no means brilliant student. I grew up in a small town 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah, my undergraduate GPA didn’t begin with a 4, and I was not a polyglot studying linguistics under Noam Chomsky.

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U.S. Fulbright

Announcing a New Fulbright Opportunity for Public Policy Students and Young Professionals

November 8, 2011

On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, we are pleased to announce the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship – a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and a new opportunity for public policy students and young professionals.

The Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship will allow U.S. citizens to contribute to the strengthening of the public sector abroad by serving in professional placements within foreign government ministries or institutions while simultaneously carrying out an academic research/study project.  The fellowship will help advance public policy research agendas, fosters mutual understanding and builds lasting ties between the U.S. and partner countries. 

Selected Fulbright Students will work side-by-side with the citizens of other countries to tackle the toughest public policy problems of the day.  This new exchange is the vanguard of international public diplomacy, as it leverages the excellence of the Fulbright program to achieve global development objectives.

Fulbright Public Policy Fellows will serve in partner country governments, which include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia

The U.S. Department of State and partner country governments will coordinate professional placements for candidates in public policy areas including, but not limited to, public health, education, agriculture, justice, energy, environment, public finance, economic development, housing and communications.

Candidates must be in receipt of a master’s or J.D. degree by the beginning of the Fellowship (Summer 2012) or be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program.  Applicants must apply At-Large and have at least two years of work experience in public policy-related fields.  Final selection will be made by the Presidentially-appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

More information, including complete eligibility requirements, please contact Theresa Granza, or Walter Jackson,  For more information on how to apply, please visit

Applications for the 2012-13 competition will be accepted from November 4, 2011 through February 1, 2012; Fulbright Public Policy Fellows will begin their assignments in summer/fall 2012.