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International Relations

U.S. Fulbright

Rolling with the Punches: How My Project ‘Failure’ Turned into a Fulbright Success Story

November 9, 2015
Bryan Furman

Bryan Furman, 2013-2014, Tajikistan, (in front of class, in white shirt), leading a discussion on the importance of psycho-social support services

I wrote my Fulbright application “knowing” exactly what I would accomplish.

My advisers and I spent months drafting my Statement of Grant Purpose for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Tajikistan. I developed a project to apply my advanced Russian and Persian language proficiencies and four years of Central Asia area studies in tracking trends in Tajik foreign policy. Additionally, I secured a placement at the prestigious Tajik Academy of Sciences and made contact with leading Tajik scholars.

These well-laid plans fell apart about two months after starting my grant. In my proposal, I outlined how I would interview government representatives and review official documents to gain unprecedented insight into Tajik foreign affairs. Wishful thinking. Whatever access I expected never came—a problem I attributed to my lack of on-the-ground experience. With my project going nowhere, I felt I had in some way “failed” Fulbright.

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