Browsing Tag


Foreign Fulbright

It Starts with the Application: Reflections from a Montenegrin Fulbright Visiting Researcher

July 4, 2016

Vladimir Leposavic, 2014-2015, Montenegro, giving a presentation at the Institute of International Education Washington, DC office

In 2014, I was selected to spend an academic year as a Fulbright Foreign Student Visiting Researcher, representing Montenegro, in the United States. My basic goal was to conduct research in international human rights; more specifically, on the international legal protection of minorities at the American University Washington College of Law (WCL). Moreover, I also had an opportunity to participate in a pre-academic summer program at the University of Kansas; consequently, my Fulbright experience started early in summer 2014.

As a PhD candidate at the Belgrade University, I had already been working on topics such as the international legal protection of national and ethnic minorities which is, in spite of its European origins, also a global phenomenon as well as a political and legal issue. Millions of people are living outside of their home countries or in so-called kin-states. The start of the Second World War was justified by the need for protecting one minority, but ended in the horrific extermination of another. In today’s world, more than five-thousand national or ethnic groups live in just about 150 states. In addition, some social experiments show that, even in situation of random grouping, more than 75% of group members tend to engage in different types of discriminatory behaviors toward others. These facts illustrate the social and scientific need for dealing with the subject of inter-group relations and minority protection.

Continue Reading

U.S. Fulbright

I Have Never Been to Las Vegas: Representing My Rural Roots as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

July 10, 2015
Joanie Andruss - 1

Joanie Andruss, 2013-2014, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Montenegro, and her students present The Zavjestanje Project at the American Corner in Podgorica, Montenegro

Have you met Michael Jackson? Is America dangerous? How many times have you been to Las Vegas? These were some of the questions Montenegrins asked when I arrived as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Perhaps my answers were surprising as they represented a different American view from what was expected. I grew up in the rural Pacific Northwest, where nature was another parent and teacher, and these early experiences significantly shaped my perspective. In my role as an ETA, I was motivated to spark new questions about my particular American lifestyle within my Montenegrin community.

While assistant teaching at the University of Montenegro, I infused my communication and Academic English courses with stories representing the diversity of the American experience. I sought to provide an alternative picture from what is often presented through mainstream media as “THE American Lifestyle” with examples from my own rural upbringing. Throughout the year, my parents sent copies of my hometown weekly paper, the Hells Canyon Journal, and I thought: “What a great resource to engage students in a meaningful exploration of a rural American community!” Providing small groups of students with their own copy of the Journal, I asked them to select stories which they would use to prepare a short news broadcast. The students were particularly taken with the cover story of the drunken songbirds that ate fermented berries outside of the town library one winter day, and the inside stories of cowboy antics certainly drew lots of questions and laughter. Students later created their own scripts and newscasts that featured real and imagined events in Montenegro.

Continue Reading

U.S. Fulbright

Interesting Times, By Dustin Gee, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Montenegro

September 12, 2012


What does it mean to live in interesting times and what sort of qualities do they demand of young professionals?

As I concluded my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Montenegro, I found myself contemplating these two questions in relation to how I had developed as a young professional and how I intended to use my Fulbright experiences upon returning to the United States.

Fulbright showed me exactly what it means to live in interesting times. Most notably, the program helped me to learn what it’s like to live in a post-communist country navigating the rapid demands of globalization. Assistant teaching English at the University of Montenegro allowed me to hone my intercultural communication skills, learn the basics of another language and develop relationships founded on mutual understanding and respect. I consider these skills to be important for thriving in interesting times and for working with others across cultural, racial and geographic boundaries. I also credit Fulbright for having awakened my calling to pursue a career in international education.

Since returning from Montenegro, I have pursued this calling by enrolling in a master’s degree program in higher education at New York University (NYU) and by becoming an administrator at Pace University’s Office of International Programs and Services. Fulbright expanded my search for graduate programs to those that support international experience as essential to any higher education curriculum. For example, this past March, I had an opportunity to participate in a two-week, global perspectives course on higher education in Turkey through NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

For those applying to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, I would offer the following two recommendations:

First, get an early start on your personal statement. The personal statement is one page long, so a common pitfall is to think, “Oh, I can easily crank something out a week or two before the deadline.” Avoid this mindset. As I discovered while developing my application essays, they demand a considerable amount of time and effort because you have to ask yourself critical questions about your background, academic interests, qualifications and future aspirations. Remember, applicants are not interviewed on the national level (only by campus committees for those applying through an institution), so the personal statement must be well-written and constructed strategically. This is your only chance to tell the National Screening Committee about who you are and how you came to this point in your life (i.e., why Fulbright?). To help guide and structure your writing, I encourage you to give your personal statement a purpose. This involves creating a “residual message,” or, what I like to think of as a dynamic sentence in the first paragraph summarizing your intent.

Think of it this way, when the National Screening Committee members have finished reading your application, what is the one thing you want them to remember, know, understand or see in your application? It’s a powerful, concrete sentence (deeply rooted in Aristotle’s ethos, pathos and logos) which will reside with your reader.

Second, you should conduct research on your prospective Fulbright country and region, and identify resources and individuals who can offer guidance. I highly recommend checking your prospective host Fulbright Commission’s or U.S. Embassy’s website. Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassies are excellent resources for learning about Fulbright priorities, current public diplomacy initiatives, political issues and other hot topics being addressed by U.S. officials and host country governments. Ask yourself: Does your research topic or Fulbright ETA community engagement project align with Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy goals, objectives and programs? How might this information be used in your application to communicate that you are knowledgeable about that particular country or region?  Check to see if they have a Facebook page and join it!

Overall, you must plan ahead, pay attention to details, and manage your time well. The Fulbright application process will not seem as overwhelming if you stay on top of things.

Photo: Dustin Gee, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Montenegro, in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the Stari Most or “old bridge” over the Nerveta River