U-M Named Fulbright Top Producer
For the thirteenth straight year, the University of Michigan tops public universities for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program (IIE) with 25 students. The 2017-2018 grantees are a diverse cohort, researching a wide range of global issues or serving as assistants to English teachers throughout Europe, South America, East Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered on campus by the International Institute. “This year’s outstanding results demonstrate the university’s enduring commitment to international education, and the International Institute is a proud partner in the goal to connect our leaders and best to the world,” said Elizabeth Dutridge-Corp, Fulbright program advisor at the International Institute.
The role of the Fulbright Program advisors at the International Institute is to provide applicants with the resources necessary to put forth a compelling and competitive application. “We hold information sessions and advising throughout the year, but we succeed because of the support from the International Institute and U-M faculty who participate in the campus process, which is a big part of what allows U-M applicants to excel in this competition," explains Dutridge-Corp. The campus deadline for the 2019-2020 competition is August 31, 2018. For more information, please contact a U-M Fulbright advisor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
English Teaching Assistant (ETA): Italy
Alexander Dennis graduated in April 2017 from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures with a bachelor of science in Italian, and it was his studies in Italian that first piqued his interest in a possible intercultural exchange. He was encouraged by Henry Dyson, Director of the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, who initially suggested a Fulbright might be a good fit. Alex also spoke with his academic advisor Catherine Carver, who shared her own Fulbright experiences in Italy.
Alex is currently living in Campobasso, a town in southern Italy, well into his fourth month as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. He works in two secondary schools teaching in English language classrooms with curricula focused on marketing, economics, and international relations. Along with the rewarding academic responsibilities, Alex has enjoyed sharing personal accounts from his experiences in the United States.
In Learning You Will Teach, and in Teaching You Will Learn
While his first time living abroad hasn’t been without the expected challenges, such as missing family and friends, that come with adjusting to daily life in another country, Alex sees this as invaluable. “Acknowledging unfamiliarity has helped me to be more receptive of this new culture,” he explains. “I’ve had some amazing experiences integrating myself into this community by finding ways to do familiar things I love—theater and photography—in the context of another language and culture.”
Medical school is in his future, he wants to pursue a career as a physician. But Alex would also like to continue fostering understanding between Americans, Italians, and beyond.
For students interested in applying to the Fulbright program, Alex recommends talking to the campus Fulbright advisors, as well as past Fulbright fellows, sooner rather than later—and approaching the process with an open mind.
“Don’t discount yourself, even if you think you may lack the background that you perceive as necessary,” he says. “Instead, think about the experiences you’ve had and the unique ways in which your background and character would allow you to share your culture with others.”
He suggests applicants remember the time spent abroad as a Fulbright grantee is a learning experience. The only certainty, he adds, is “that it likely will be much different than you’ve expected.” Embrace the change.
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