One question that keeps popping up is: Why did you apply and accept the Fulbright? Or its twin: Why should I apply for a Fulbright? I’ll answer the second question before addressing the first. The unhelpful yet truthful answer is that it’s really up to you and what you’re looking to do. When deciding to apply I think one of the most helpful things to do is to actually sit down and read the mission statement because that is the criteria by which you will be judged and it also tells you what to expect of the fellowship. Fulbright’s mission statement is as follows:
- Increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
- Strengthen the ties that unite the United States with other nations.
- Promote international cooperation for education and cultural advancement.
- Assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries of the world (Mission Statement)
In short your job as a Fulbrighter is to be a good cultural ambassador.
As for me, I applied to the Fulbright Program because I enjoy teaching and spending time in other countries. I love teaching. One of my favorite things to do is to help a student understand a concept and watch their face light up when they finally get the right answer. I also thought it would be great to live abroad for an extended period of time, especially since I don’t have any major responsibilities or commitments (i.e. husband, kids, or an established career). Lastly, I thought that the Fulbright would make a great transition/gap year. Under my Fulbright contract I’m obligated to work approximately 20 hours a week while my connection to the local university means that I am also able to live in university housing and take classes. I’m part student and part worker. In short, I get to have a small taste of university life while still getting to partake in the “real world.”
As to why I decided to accept the Fulbright, I accepted for all of the reasons listed above and because jobs will always be there. Ultimately, I have the rest of my life to work and if I didn’t take the Fulbright I would always wonder what it would have been like if I did.