The Fulbright Program offers “an international scholarship with an ambitious goal: to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” as described by the Fulbright website. Recipients of this prestigious and honorable award are also funded to travel to a foreign country to teach and do research.
Howard Lehman, a Fulbright Scholar, is the advisor for Fulbright Scholars at the University of Utah and a political science professor. He spoke of the endless opportunities that being a Fulbright Scholar provides. The first time Lehman went abroad as a Fulbright Scholar was in 1994-1995 to Slovakia. He helped the newly independent country develop graduate programs modeled after those of the United States. In 2002 he applied to be a Fulbright Scholar again, and received the award a second time to teach and do research in Japan. He has recently been selected a third time to travel to Austria and continue working on the studies he started in Japan.
Lehman cautioned that moving to a new country takes a willingness to experience change and a certain love of adventure, but he was quick to mention that the Fulbright program has been established for decades and the local Fulbright administrators make the transition for their scholars as smooth as possible. He spoke highly of the Fulbright program’s continued interaction with its scholars; they encouraged him to engage in the new cultures and provided fieldtrips and programs to ensure a cultural emersion in the community.
While discussing some of the benefits of being a Fulbright Scholar, Lehman said that his Fulbright experiences have taught him that overseas there are “…different students, different cultures and different expectations.” He believes that you learn a lot as a teacher and that there are many valuable ways to be an educator. The experiences he gained from the various international classrooms transfer over to his teaching habits and models now. Lehman feels that his experiences broadened his worldview and help him relate to a diverse array of students. He also mentioned that it is a widely recognized program, and it is often referred to as the most prestigious award of its kind.
Lehman acknowledged that the process of applying to be a Fulbright Scholar can be very intimidating and requires stamina, however, he is certain that it is so valuable an experience that everyone who is interested should apply. He believes that the process of applying regardless of outcome is valuable and important for the applicant. Lehman explained that the United States State Department reviews the applicants and selects the best candidates. The country in which the student wishes to study makes the final selection. It is a program that will further the individual recipient’s academic career, help the University of Utah shine on global scale, and continually strengthen international ties.
In conclusion, Lehman spoke of the many friendships he has made as a result of his Fulbright travels, some of which have lasted over 20 years. He ended by speaking of the personal benefits that he continually reaps. He said, “When you return, you are a Fulbrighter…for life. There is a community of Fulbrighters wherever you go.”
For more information about the Fulbright Program: