Fulbright Awardees To Travel Abroad

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Eight Emory students who submitted applications for the national Fulbright scholarship discovered they were recipients of the award over the last few weeks. The grant will allow the awardees to travel internationally to teach English or conduct research for one year.

The Emory awardees were Michal Schatz (’13C), Kari Leibowitz (’12C), College seniors Alizeh Ahmad, Celeste Banks, Bryan Cronan, Christopher Linnan, Ben Sollenberger and Abigail Weisberger.

College seniors received English Teaching Assistantships (ETA), where Banks will be in Taiwan, Ahmad and Cronan will both be in Malaysia, Linnan will be in Indonesia, Sollenberger in Turkey and Weisberger in Germany. Schatz and Leibowitz were awarded research grants in France and Norway, respectively.

The students who received ETA grants will teach children English for 15 to 20 hours per week, but much of the allure is being able to experience a foreign country.

“I’m interested in really going to explore what I’ve studied so much in my history and [political science] classes,” Sollenberger said.

Cronan, who wants to become a foreign journalist correspondent, said he is looking forward to seeing how a journalist would interact with the community they are embedded in. He added that Malaysia is under-covered by journalists, as evidenced by the recent missing Malaysian plane.

Ahmad, on the other hand, said she was interested in Malaysia because she has family ties to the country. Her uncle emigrated from Pakistan to Malaysia, and his experiences have taught her the parallels between her own Pakistani heritage and Malaysian culture. Specifically, as an International Studies and Religion major, Ahmad said she is excited to learn about the diverse Muslim communities in Malaysia.

Others said they will be learning their host country’s language for the first time.

Linnan, who briefly lived in Indonesia when he was younger, said he will be attending language school prior to arriving in Indonesia in August.

Leibowitz is embarking on a year-long research project in Tromso, Norway, with the scholarship. She said a big challenge will be conducting research in a place where she is completely unfamiliar with the language.

Unlike the ETA grant, whose recipients applied to a specific country and will be placed in a city by the Fulbright program, research grant recipients are required to know exactly where and what they want to research.

Leibowitz will be researching positive mental health in Tromso and its correlation with levels of seasonal depression in the region. She said a part of the application required her to find a professor at a university in Norway to write a recommendation.

Schatz, who will be researching in France, could not be contacted by press time.

But even those familiar with their host country’s language said they are nervous to be communicating with children.

“My Turkish is elementary at best,” Sollenberger said.

Weisberger, who has been studying German throughout her time at Emory, said she anticipates it will be challenging speaking with kids in German because “it’s hard to interact with kids in general.”

There are two parts to the Fulbright application process – one is conducted internally through Emory’s National Scholarships & Fellowships Program and the other is nationally competitive.

Recent graduates, Master’s and doctoral degree candidates and young professionals from all over the country are eligible to apply, according to the Fulbright website.

The internal application is due in August and includes a personal statement as well as a statement of grant purpose that addresses a student’s motivations for applying to their country of choice. The national Fulbright application is due in October.

“It’s a long process, but there’s a lot of help here,” Linnan said.

After the initial application submission, the program’s counselors review it and suggest improvements to it. There is also a panel of teachers that asks each applicant a series of questions.

“You have really good access to the counselors in the office,” Weisberger said. “They really helped me tighten [the essays] up.”

Leibowitz said she has previously applied for the Fulbright, the national Marshall scholarship to obtain a degree in the UK and Emory’s Bobby Jones scholarship to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, all of which she did not receive at first.

“People think these things are really unattainable, but you have to keep trying,” Leibowitz said.

—By Rupsha Basu

Correction: This article was updated at 3:42 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22 to reflect a change in the seventh paragraph. The paragraph originally read that Ahmad’s uncle emigrated from Malaysia to Pakistan. It now correctly reads that he emigrated from Pakistan to Malaysia.

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