by Alaysha Germaine
On April 16, Whatcom had the prominent opportunity to listen to Dr. Tang Hao, a visiting Fulbright scholar from Guangzhou, China.
The Fulbright Scholarship Program is not new. It was established in 1946 and named after the man who introduced its legislation, Senator J. William Fulbright from Wisconsin.
“Fulbright is an extremely broad program consisting of many small programs,” said International Programs Director, Kelly Kester.
The program is funded by the federal government and run by the State Department. The basic operation of the program is to fund the exchange of international students, scholars and faculty.
“It’s a visionary program,” said Ulli Schraml, the Special Program Coordinator and academic advisor for Fulbright.
The Fulbright Program is designed to allow people from around the world to explore American education and culture in ways that may not otherwise be available to them.
It also allows American scholars to visit other countries and either learn about the foreign culture and educational programs or teach about their own.
Hao is a professor at South China Normal University who received a scholarship through Fulbright to spend a year teaching at Randolph Macon University in Virginia.
Through Fulbright’s occasional lecturer program, which allows colleges to host these scholars for short periods of time, Hao was invited to Whatcom to discuss China and U.S. relations.
“It’s an incredible way to gain a better understanding of other cultures and of each other,” said Schraml.
Traditionally, Fulbright is focused on university and graduate students looking to teach or learn internationally.
“Recently the program has taken a focus on community colleges,” said Kester.
Last year, Kester decided that it would be great to have a Fulbright scholar visit Whatcom.
“It’s a very prestigious thing to host a Fulbright Scholar,” he said. Kester then invited Whatcom’s faculty to decide who that scholar would be.
A list of scholars currently in the U.S. with a Fulbright scholarship was looked over. With help from our economics, political science and business departments, Hao, who was in Virginia at the time, became our guest.
“I’m hoping that this will be an example,” said Kester, “That other scholars will come and be a resource to our students.”
Whatcom’s own music instructor, Christopher Roberts, spent time in Indonesia as a Fulbright scholar in the 1980’s while Kester stayed in Germany as a Fulbright scholar learning about higher education in the fall of 2008.
“It’s the best of the best!” said Kester of the program.
Although it’s not available to community college students, the Fulbright Scholarship Program is another amazing opportunity for them to experience education from an outside source with an entirely new perspective to share.
Students working on bachelor’s degrees and graduate programs do have the opportunity to apply, and for those who aren’t, Kester says, “It’s not too early to start thinking about it! Thinking about it is the first step to having a successful Fulbright application.”
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