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Fulbright Program for U.S. Students

U.S. Fulbright Applicant

Issue 8 | June 2007

Community and Affiliation
table of contents

Program Updates

The Day of the Ancients

by Roman Yavich, 2006-2007, Nicaragua

We are born, we grow up, we work, we raise kids, we work more, and then we grow old.  If we are lucky, we are born in a place with opportunities, where we can grow up safely, find work, raise healthy educated children, and retire to enjoy our golden years. In many places around the world, however, people are not so lucky. In Nicaragua, for the majority of the population, few opportunities exist. Safety, work, education and healthcare are not taken for granted, and very few people have the luxury to retire. The first thing that visitors to Nicaragua notice is the extreme poverty. Entire neighborhoods are living without electricity or running water.  Houses exist without floors and are made entirely of roof zinc. Children walk around barefoot. The next thing that most visitors notice is how friendly, happy, and welcoming Nicaraguans are. This disconnect between a lack of basic necessities, and the quality of life is a complete shock to most tourists. 
Dia de los Ancianos, Nicaragua(Photo courtesy of Roman Yavich)  


After living here for four months, I have found that the key to being happy with almost no financial resources is human resources. Said in a less confusing manner, it is the people around you: your family, your friends, and your community.

In San Juan del Sur, a fishing village/tourism bonanza town in the southwestern part of Nicaragua, many people are related. If not, they still call each other tía (aunt), primo (cousin), or even hermano (brother), because even though they are not related, they feel as though they are.

Children rarely move out of the house until they are married, and even then they build an extra room rather than leave. Neighbors don’t just wave to each other out of the window of their cars, as in the suburban United States, they sit with each other for hours, rocking back and forth on wooden rockers, exchanging rumors and telling jokes. Here, I learned the true sense of the word “community.”   Becoming a part of this community has been an incredible experience.

One of the highlights has been volunteering with the A. Jean Brugger Foundation which, with the support of Pelican Eyes, the largest hotel in San Juan del Sur, organizes community building events, among other activities. One such event is the Día de los Ancianos, (translated literally as the Day of the Ancients) which brings together most of the elderly in town for lunch and activities (usually bingo) once a month. Seeing the life, joy, and wisdom in a room of 200 Nicaraguan grandpas and grandmas was overwhelming. Seeing them beat a piñata was even better. All of the people in the room were living with their families (there are no nursing homes in Nicaragua), almost all of them knew each other, and, in my opinion, all of them were having a better time than their counterparts in the richest country in the world. 

Studying sustainable tourism here, I can’t help but be proud of Hotel Pelican Eyes Piedras y Olas for having started and continually supporting the A. Jean Brugger Foundation. Contributing to cultural and community preservation in a place literally exploding with tourism is a noble feat. By having the opportunity to research tourism development here on a Fulbright grant, I also had the chance to realize that by having a close relationship with those around you, you do not pass from one phase in life to another and then grow old.  You just live.


Establishing a Host Affiliation

by Jermaine Jones, Program Manager, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa

Applicants must carefully read the criteria for host affiliation requirements in the summary for the country to which they are applying. Countries differ in the kinds of host affiliations that are acceptable. Depending upon the country, the host affiliation can be an academic institution, a research institute, a non-profit organization and/or individuals at any one of these or other types of relevant agencies. In some cases, particularly in the arts, the affiliation may be a person such as a writer, musician, or artist or an arts organization or foundation. Applicants should pay special attention to the requirement in some countries to attend/affiliate with an academic institution.

Identifying a Potential Host

Some countries will obtain affiliation for the Fulbrighters, while others leave the responsibility for securing host affiliation entirely up to the grantee. Others will work somewhere in between, expecting the grantee to identify a host affiliation and make initial contact, but will then help to formalize the affiliation after the grant is awarded. Make sure you know what is expected of you as an applicant by reviewing the country summary carefully.

In countries where it is up to the grantee to find and secure affiliations, IIE cannot provide a list of institutions that acted as a host to previous Fulbrighters. Past Fulbrighters have used a number of methods to contact hosts and solicit support for their projects. One main way is to use the contacts and advisers that you already have. Ask if one of your current professors can help to put you into contact with a professor at a university overseas. Here are a couple of additional ways we recommend for finding an affiliation: (1) international students on your campus can be a great resource; (2) contact Visiting Fulbright Professors in the U.S. (http://www.cies.org/vs_scholars/vs_dir.htm); (3) a search engine (such as Google) can help you find professors with your interests. Do not hesitate to contact professors from other universities both in the U.S. and in your prospective country, especially if your proposal fits to the professor’s expertise. Other than that, some committed research and perseverance will aid you in finding a host affiliation. Once you find a possible host, make contact by sending an introductory letter or email. Keep in mind that many schools are closed during the summer months, so you may want to begin early, or heat up your search in the early fall. Remember, however, that IIE does not accept any support materials or letters via email or fax, and that sufficient lead time must be allowed to receive hard copy responses, with original signatures.

Letters of Support

The most competitive candidates will include documentation of contacts with potential host affiliations with the application. This could be of a letter of invitation from the host institution/organization/individual indicating research support or allowing access to facilities to the applicant; or, it could be a letter indicating that the admitting institution provides courses in the applicant's areas of study. IIE refers to these letters synonymously as: letters of support, letters of affiliation, letters of invitation and/or letters of admission.

There are no specific requirements for the letter of support from the host institution. Every affiliation relationship will be different depending upon the candidate’s project. In general, letters of support on institutional letterhead sent with the application are preferred. The letters should state how the supervisor/host institution will help the applicant to facilitate the project (i.e., what resources will be offered, what kind of supervision will be given, etc.). Some applicants propose to do independent research, so these letters of support are more crucial to establishing the feasibility of a project. Other applicants propose study projects, so letters of support are really a complement to the overall application, but attest to its feasibility. Therefore, you should try to get a letter of support that is as detailed as possible. Ultimately, it is up to your host affiliation as to the level/kind of support that they are willing to offer you.

In the U.S., we have become accustomed to rapid response, especially in electronic communication. Many cultures do not have this expectation, and many people do not enjoy the reliable connectivity or easy access to the Internet that we do. Therefore, be advised that you may not receive a response to your inquiries as quickly as you might hope. Applicants are advised to begin their search for an affiliation as early as possible.

Letters of support can be submitted to IIE via regular mail after the deadline. However, we cannot guarantee that letters of support submitted separate from the full application will be successfully married up with the application in time for committee review. We will make every effort to do so, but can make no guarantee. Also, IIE cannot confirm receipt of any documents. Please do not call or email us to ask if your letter of support was received. We recommend that you send your materials using a method that will provide return receipt.

Please note that we will not accept letters of support, recommendations, or foreign language reports sent via email or fax.

Degree Programs

If your plan is to complete a Master's or other degree or to attend a structured degree program, make sure that you apply for admission to the host university by their deadline. Do not wait for the Fulbright decision to come through or you may be too late in gaining admission into your chosen university.

If you are applying for admission into a study/Master's program, you do not need to submit the letter of admission with the application. You can submit the acceptance letter whenever you receive it, but an award offer would be contingent upon you receiving placement at a university. However, even if you are applying to do a structured degree program, obtaining a letter of support from a faculty member at the host university will complement your application.


Video Focus: Alex Hurd, Fulbright Binational Business Program - Mexico, 2002

Alex Hurd


In the videos featuring Fulbright grantees, we've asked them to: (1) describe their Fulbright projects; (2) explain the application process; and, (3) offer advice to future applicants. The link below features Alex Hurd sharing some practical advice based on his own experiences. We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the application process by reviewing several of the student videos available on some country pages throughout our website.