PSC adds Fulbright Scholarship application process to its growing international opportunities
Paul Smith’s College recently rolled out a new opportunity for graduating seniors and recent alums to apply for international teaching/research collaborations and English teaching fellowships through the Fulbright Student Program. The Fulbright Program, started in 1946 after World War II, has the ultimate goal of ‘increasing mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and people of other countries through exchange’.
People in all stages of life and career can apply through different programs, with the first opportunity for funding as a graduating senior. Fulbright Student Program awards approximately 950 student research and teaching, and approximately 1,200 student English teaching scholarships annually.
Institutions appoint a Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA) who works together with a faculty committee to alert students to the opportunities, keep them apprised of deadlines, and provide support and feedback on developing proposals. Paul Smith’s FPA, Dr. Celia Evans, said this year’s roll out looks like it will yield at least one, if not two or three, applications come the October deadline in 2019.
In the past four years, students taking advantage of short-term Faculty Led Programs (FLP’s) have more than doubled. In Winter and Spring semesters of 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined, Paul Smith’s students from a wide range of programs traveled with courses to Italy, Uganda, India, Nepal, Russia, Poland and Jamaica. FLP’s are growing in popularity in U.S. colleges and, in this world of global communication and economy, are predicted to continue to grow.
Currently approximately seven percent of Paul Smith’s students travel in these courses annually, so that likely over twenty percent of Smitties will participate at some point in their education. Not surprisingly, students report transformational experiences upon returning to campus and share their experiences in classes, clubs, and with prospective students and families.
Responses to a recent survey indicated a variety of personal outcomes for students. One student focused comments on disciplinary understanding: “I can honestly say that I am applying many of the concepts I learned during the international course in both my classes and my job… so much of what I learned in a foreign country I am beginning to understand in my own backyard.”
For most, it opens a new window through which to see some important aspect of their own cultural norms. For example, a student shared: “In this course I was able to experience ecosystems and cultural interactions that I would not be able to experience anywhere else. The people I met there touched my life and taught us things about my own culture I will hold onto forever.”
Experiences can take students out of their physical and emotional comfort zones. This student turned challenge into growth: “Mind over matter. During the trek we struggled a lot but this helped me significantly.” These types of experiences often turn students who have not travelled into travelers.
“The growth happens on its own,” Evans said. “Casually, we speak of these experiences as transformational. It is hard to measure this type of transformation, but reading their words and listening to their conversations, it is also hard not to be a believer.” Finally, here is a common theme, succinctly expressed by one traveler: “Just being able to submerge myself into the way of thinking of people from different cultures. It is a more beautiful world if you view it through many lenses.”