Fulbright Program provides valuable opportunities for students, professors

Fulbright Program provides valuable opportunities for students, professors

by Blair BoydStaff Writer

By attending a small, private college in the Midwest, it is easy to become accustomed to the everyday, somewhat simple life that most middle-class Americans live.

The Fulbright Program works to change certain perceptions that people may have toward other countries and aims to increase mutual understanding between those living in the United States and those of other countries by sharing knowledge, persons and skills.

Within the Fulbright Program are many sub-programs that offer great opportunities for students, professors and administrators.

The U.S. Student Program offers fellowships to U.S. students for study, research or teaching assistantships abroad.

The Foreign Student Program offers the same to foreign students coming to the states.

There is also a program that offers fellowships to U.S. and foreign scholars to lecture and do research abroad.

Steve Emerman, assistant professor of biology, was given a Fulbright Award in 2003 to be a Fulbright Professor of Geology in Nepal at Simpson’s sister college, Tri-Chandra Campus. An agreement was signed between the king of Nepal.

“It all started during a May Term trip to Nepal in 2001,” Emerman said. “They asked me to apply for Fulbright while I was there.”

The Fulbright Commission provided funds to Emerman to buy books, do research and teach, among other things. For Emerman, it was a wonderful experience.

“Fulbright created opportunities I wouldn’t have had any other way,” Emerman said.

Professor of English Todd Lieber has also benefited greatly from the Fulbright Program. Leiber applied and received a Fulbright teaching grant in the fall of 1993 to teach at the University of Costa Rica in San Pedro, a suburb of San Juan. While there, he taught two undergraduate classes, a senior writing class and Introduction to Poetry. Though the experience was great, the application process was rigorous.

“It took me most of the summer to finish the application process,” Lieber said. “You have to be pretty committed.”

Even though applying for the teaching grant is a long and drawn out process that requires a lot of time and commitment, Lieber has nothing but good things to say about the Fulbright Program and the opportunity it gave him.

“I had a great time,” Lieber said. “I love the country and I have gone back twice. Its purpose is to promote international understanding and it’s a great opportunity.”

The Fulbright Program gives students the opportunity to study or teach abroad as well. Fulbright Scholars Laura Wuster and Ines Gomez have contributed a great deal to the foreign language department at Simpson and would like to do even more.

“I teach three full classes: German 202, German 302 and an independent studies class,” Wuster said. “I also do tutoring and work in the language lab. Language is only one aspect of your culture”

Gomez does much of the same.

“I substitute teach sometimes, but I mainly assist,” Gomez said. “I also have conversation classes on Tuesday and help with Spanish club. I would like to do even more.”

Most Fulbright scholars are placed in the Midwest because of the lack of diversity, which benefits everyone.

“We would have seen a different side of American culture if we’d been placed somewhere more diverse,” Gomez said.

Both Wuster and Gomez will be at Simpson for the entire academic year and thus far have enjoyed the experience the Fulbright program has given them.

“It’s been pretty enriching,” Gomez said.