By Theresa Hogue
For the last 70 years, the Fulbright program has helped students and faculty members participate in international exchanges and collaborations. This week, Oregon State University is hosting a Fulbright anniversary celebration, which will include discussions by former participants, to be held Thursday, Nov. 17, 2 – 3:30 p.m. in MU 208.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” With this goal as a starting point, the Fulbright Program has provided over 300,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
OSU participates in the Fulbright program in a number of ways. Faculty members have participated as Fulbright scholars, and the university has hosted international scholars from around the world through the program. Additionally, OSU students have the opportunity to study and teach abroad, and OSU has welcomed international scholars to campus.
A number of OSU students have received awards for year-long study and research projects and English teaching assistantships through the Fulbright program. The scholarships provided by Fulbright have given 38 students at OSU the chance to study and research in places as far flung as Poland, Namibia, Venezuela and Sri Lanka (a full list of scholars can be found here http://topscholars.oregonstate.edu/prestigious-scholars/competitive-scholarships/fulbright-us-student-program ).
During the 2015-16 year, OSU student Erin Fedewa worked in Trinidad. She said her Fulbright experience opened her eyes to a world of new cultures, religions and ideas.
“On the first day exploring my new home, a friend told me that traveling is the best way to learn to tolerate differences- and looking back on my time spent in Trinidad, I cannot agree more. Getting to experience a Hindu Diwali celebration and a Muslim Eid dinner were both a first for me and I have learned so much about not only the religions, but about the people who embody them.”
Fedewa said she made a point to write down thoughts about conversations she had during her time abroad, and felt like the experience helped her learn more about her world and herself.
During the same time period, OSU student Dennis Sweeney was an English Teaching Assistant in Malta. He taught grade school, worked with refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, and worked alongside colleagues from Europe.
“My sense of the world is so much more expansive now, and so much more gentle. I think the United States needs this kind of expansive thinking,” Sweeney said, “and I hope I have brought some of it back home.
This summer, Kevin Bishop was awarded the Fulbright UK summer institute grant to attend a six-week summer program in Scotland. He is the first OSU student to win this prestigious award, and it’s the only Fulbright open to undergraduates. There are two OSU alumni departing in 2017 on their grants, including Kat Perez, who is heading to Chile, and Chris Foertsch, who will be flying to Indonesia for his work.
For more information on the Fulbright program at OSU, see http://international.oregonstate.edu/vpip/grants-awards/fulbright-program