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Fulbright Program for U.S. Students

Fulbright Program Adviser

Issue 3 | August 2006

Focus on: Africa Region
table of contents

Program Updates

Trends and General Issues for Students Interested in Applying for Fulbright Awards to Sub-Saharan Africa

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

It is anticipated that approximately 50-60 grants will be offered for sub-Saharan Africa in 2007/2008. The number of grants given annually to sub-Saharan Africa has been augmented somewhat in recent years by the awarding of several Islamic Civilization grants for projects in this region. 2006 was a particularly noteworthy year in this regard, as six Islamic Civilization grants have been awarded for Africa. This represents 15% of the Islamic Civilization grants awarded worldwide for that year, and 8% of all the Fulbrights awarded for sub-Saharan Africa.

Most African countries are willing to accept proposals in various disciplines. However, some give preference to projects that are topical and in some way address critical needs in that country. For example, a Creative Writing application for a country such as Malawi would probably not be particularly compelling, especially if it had to compete with other applications in fields such as Public Health or Economic Development. This is not meant to discourage applicants in the creative/performing arts fields. In fact, arts candidates have been offered awards to nearly a dozen different countries in the region over the past 5-6 years. (For 2006, 4 have been awarded: 2 in dance, 1 in directing and 1 in photography to Ghana, Malawi, Benin and Burkina Faso.)

Most countries in the region are also willing to accept candidates at all degree levels. Even though some may have a stated preference for either graduating seniors or graduate-level students in their country summaries, the quality of the project, the candidate’s maturity, and their ability to carry out the project successfully are usually more important than their degree level alone. In general, countries that only accept applications from advanced-level graduate students have this policy because of their small U.S. embassy presence, which means that there is minimal in-country supervision/support for the Fulbright program. Given this, they are only able to accommodate mature candidates with a proven ability to carry out their projects with little assistance from the embassy.

The standard duration of grants to sub-Saharan Africa is 10 months. Unless an applicant plans on enrolling in a college or university -- in which case they should note that grants to sub-Saharan Africa do not cover tuition -- they should know that they have a fairly broad and flexible time frame for beginning a grant. While most grantees (worldwide) head overseas to start their projects in the fall, grants in Africa may be started in the late summer 2007, but definitely not prior to the pre-departure orientation for sub-Saharan Africa Fulbrighters, which will probably be held in June or July 2007. The latest that a 2007/2008 year grant could begin is the end of March 2008.

Institutional Affiliation
Candidates should understand that the process of securing an institutional affiliation is solely their responsibility. They should read the "Affiliation" section of the relevant country summary for more guidance on this. Affiliations should be with institutions (colleges and universities, government ministries, research institutes, archives, museums, etc.,) that are based in the host country. Affiliations may also be possible with the local African office of a multi-national organization, as long as its personnel are primarily from the host country -- and not Americans and other expatriates. This is a point candidates should ask to have emphasized in their letters of affiliation.
Language Considerations
Even though English, French and Portuguese are the official languages of nearly all of the countries with Fulbright programs, applicants nevertheless should carefully think through the requirements and objectives of their projects, and how far knowledge of these languages alone will take them. Since many African languages are not commonly taught in the U.S., prior knowledge of them generally is not required at the time of application (although it may be recommended in some cases). However, applicants with projects that require knowledge of an indigenous African language should make every effort to begin learning it before the intended start of their grants -- and ideally have some knowledge of it at the time of application. At minimum, they should include plans for studying the language in the host country concurrent with their research, and/or enlist the assistance of translators. Keep in mind that the research allowance is minimal and, in most cases, will not cover fully these costs.
Multi-country Applications
Multi-country applications are possible for all countries in the region with a U.S. Student Fulbright program, except South Africa. However, candidates considering submitting such an application need to keep in mind that:
  • it will be their responsibility to attain institutional affiliations in each country to which they apply. If they are ultimately offered grants, they will also need to secure any research permits/clearances that may be required in these countries.
  • they can spend no less than 3 months in any one country, and frequent travel back and forth between countries is not permitted.
  • approval must be given by each country in order for a grant to be offered. If one country rejects the application, the candidate would need to revise the proposal such that it could be carried out in the remaining country/-ies that accept it.
  • the pitfalls of dividing a 10-month grant between 2-3 countries. The process of settling-in, and implementing/completing the project can be challenging enough in just one country. Having to repeat this in 2 or 3 countries can be especially difficult.
Focus on South Africa

South Africa remains the most popular -- and thus competitive -- country in the region. Roughly 90-100 applications have been received for South Africa in each of the past 5 years, and of these only about 7-12 have been offered grants annually. Its popularity can be attributed to several factors, including: the quality of its higher educational system and research centers, the fact that English may be sufficient for some projects, and the country’s solid track record of awarding grants to projects in a diverse range of discipline -- academic as well as artistic. Given the high ratio of applications received to grants awarded, candidates interested in South Africa might want to consider some of its less competitive neighbors instead, such as Botswana, Namibia, and Swaziland.

Candidates interested in South Africa should bear in mind that they must submit letters of invitation/affiliation from their prospective host institutions with their applications. Therefore, they should make every effort to begin communicating with their South African contacts as early as possible to assure that they receive these letters by the appropriate deadline date.

One final point to consider is that the Fulbright program in South Africa is very interested in promoting geographic diversity in terms of where Fulbrighters are located in that country. A large percentage of applicants for South Africa are interested in the Western Cape region where there are clearly excellent educational institutions. However, unless it is absolutely imperative that you be located in the Western Cape, we strongly encourage you to consider projects that can be carried out in other provinces/cities of the country.


Spelman College's Very Good Year, by Dr. Margery A. Ganz

by Margery Ganz

Spelman College had a very good year with the 2006-2007 Fulbright competition.

Until last year, the College never had more than 4 students apply for the U.S. Student Fulbright program and never had more than a single student actually win in any competition cycle. However, in the Fall of 2005, Spelman’s Fulbright Committee sent 12 graduating senior applications forward; 6 were recommended by their respective subcommittees of IIE’s National Screening Committee for further consideration. Two received full grants (Czech Republic and Morocco), one was awarded a teaching assistantship (Argentina), and the fourth was granted a French Government Teaching Assistantship to which she was invited to apply because of her placement in the Fulbright TA program competition for France. The sixth student ended up as an alternate.

We believe that one of the reasons for the increased number of applicants was that we really publicized the previous year’s winner who had spent 2005-2006 in the Dominican Republic. She was featured on the College’s home page for a couple weeks so that we could all celebrate with her.

Margery Ganz
Dr. Margery A. Ganz, FPA from Spelman College
In addition, we also list Fulbright winners in the graduation program, so everyone knew about our previous winner. Several of the students who came in to discuss the possibility of applying mentioned that they had seen the article about Danielle Pritchett on both the Spelman Homepage and in the Spelman Connection. This got them thinking about how they might become Fulbrighters themselves. Also, we have begun to hold a Spring meeting for sophomores and juniors to alert them to the various programs available to them -- Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall and Watson -- so that they will begin to prepare themselves early for these types of fellowship opportunities.

Since I am both the Director of Study Abroad and International Exchange at Spelman, as well as the FPA, I have great access to groups of students who participate in study abroad. Of our 12 applicants last year, 10 had studied abroad during their junior year. Only one of the students who was recommended for Fulbright had not studied abroad. Therefore, one way to locate potential applicants and to get more students to apply is to look to returned study abroad participants, since they have already demonstrated their appreciation of a foreign experience.

In early August, the Office of Undergraduate Studies sends a letter to all rising seniors inviting them to a meeting in the first week of school in order to learn about “prestigious fellowships" -- Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, Watson, and Fulbright. Lots of students come to hear about Fulbright and then get “linked” to faculty members who are either in their discipline or are from the country to which the student would like to apply. The Offices of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Study Abroad facilitate these links so that knowledge can be shared and useful contacts discovered. We have been very clear also about the students making a connection in their applications -- whether it is with a soccer ball or coaching a girl’s basketball team -- between what they want to do and the local community where they hope to be placed.

Because so many of last year’s applicants knew each other from classes or study abroad, they worked together and helped each other by reading and critiquing their essays, as well as by making sure they had all the pieces of their applications.

We expect more applications this year. Because we had all of this year’s winners on the home page and in the Spelman Connection, some of our recent alumnae have been in touch to ask if they might apply through the school; we have agreed to assist them. A couple of our alumnae have also been in touch because they have won Fulbrights for this new academic year and we have also publicized them. Thus, Spelman is cultivating Fulbright as a fellowship that Spelman students can win. We want students to prepare competitive applications and are, therefore, providing the support to help them be successful. Over the last few years, the College’s commitment to the Fulbright Fellowship Program has become more visible and more real, and that is helping our students win more grants.

Margery A. Ganz, PhD
Director of Study Abroad and International Exchange
Professor of History


Preparing an Application in the Creative, Performing or Visual Arts

by Walter Jackson, Program Manager, Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright Program encourages applications for study or training in the creative, performing and visual arts. Applications in all fields are welcome to all countries. Candidates should be thoroughly familiar with the Individual Country Summary and the requirements for the country to which they wish to apply, located on fulbrightonline.org or in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program brochure.

Proposals in the arts should focus on formal training and/or independent study in specific disciplines and applicants should, in their project statements, indicate the reasons for choosing a particular country, the nature of the study and the form the work will take, and whether the project will involve formal study at an institution working with a supervisor, or independent study. In their project statements, applicants should relate their current training to the study they plan to undertake abroad, the expected results of the study or training and the contribution the foreign experience will have on their future professional development.

Applicants must indicate host country affiliations and, where possible, provide letters of support from the individual or institution with whom or where they plan to carry out their study. While sources of support/affiliation are specific to the country of application, they may also include organizations such as museums, music groups, galleries, etc.

Candidates in the arts should be aware that their applications and supplementary materials will be reviewed by a discipline-specific committee of experts. Care should be taken when identifying the appropriate field of study in the application. It should be germane to the focus of the proposed project. The discipline-specific committees in the creative, performing and visual arts include: Architecture; Creative Writing; Dance & Performance Art; Design; Filmmaking; Music Composition & Conducting; Photography; Piano; Organ & Harpsichord; Theater, including Acting, Directing and Costume/Set Design; Ethnomusicology; Sculpture & Installation Art; Painting & Printmaking; String Instruments, including Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Harp, Lute, Viola, Sitar and Violin; Voice; Wind Instruments, including Bassoon, Clarinet, Euphonium, Flute, French Horn, Oboe, Percussion, Piccolo, Recorder, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet and Tuba.

The members of the discipline-specific screening committees in the arts can be working professionals, working/teaching professionals or full-time arts faculty at academic institutions or teachers at art and music conservatories in the U.S. They will be reviewing applications and supplementary materials in their respective fields to all countries of the world.

The supplementary materials should support the proposed study. In submitting supplementary materials in support of the application, please refer to your discipline in the Instructions for Submitting Materials in the Creative and Performing Arts for specifications on the materials required. Materials not specifically requested will not be reviewed.

While the quality of the supplementary material submitted in support of the written application is extremely important, candidates in the arts should be aware that members of the screening committees will also be extremely interested in the applicant's training and preparation to carry out the proposed project. Therefore, previous formal study, training or experience is important.

Projects should focus on practical training or performance studies. Candidates should outline a study for which their previous study background compliments and supports the proposed project and will add to their professional training and development.

Applicants whose projects emphasize academic research over practical training should apply in the academic field appropriate to the nature of the project (e.g., Architectural History, Art History, Film Studies, Theater Studies, etc.) and not submit supplementary material.


Video focus: Julian Simcock from Babson College

Julian Simcock
Julian Simcock, 2005-2006 (Babson College, Economic Development, South Africa)
In the videos featuring Fulbright grantees, we've asked them to: (1) describe their Fulbright project; (2) explain the application process, and (3) to offer advice to future applicants. The link below features Julian Simcock 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.



My Best Fulbright Foot Forward, by 2003-2004 Fulbright Alumna, Josephine Dorado

by Josephine G. Dorado, 2003-2004, Netherlands

"You know, you should apply for a Fulbright." With that one statement, my friend Elizabeth firmly planted a seed in my head. She had received a Fulbright to study dance in Amsterdam and we were discussing the innovative nature of the dance and electronic art scene there. "Just apply for it," as if it was a simple solution to an easy question.

I pondered over it. On the one hand, it would be dreamy to go to Amsterdam on a Fulbright and immerse myself in the dance technology and electronic arts scene there. On the other hand, if I got it, it would mean that I would have to give up my cushy technical training and consulting job in New York and fly solo in unfamiliar territory…plus, the deadline was an alarming two weeks away.

There are very few things in life that clear my mind like skydiving does. The first commandment of skydiving is, "Be brave." -- life philosophy in a nutshell. I went for a jump that week and flew with wide, open eyes over the horizon -- the endless 360° expanse stretching out below me, and I thought, there's my answer.

I locked myself away for two weeks and worked feverishly on mounds of paperwork: transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation. As an applicant in the arts, I also had to get my portfolio in order. I compiled and edited video of past performances, showed it to my university's panel, re-edited the footage based on their feedback. My goal: get that Fulbright to Amsterdam so I could do what I loved, unfettered.

Josephine Dorado  
Josephine Dorado, 2003-2004 (The New School, Performance Art, The Netherlands)
With a passion for both technology and the arts, my interest is in the convergence of the two. Specifically, interactive art and networked performance -- online collaborative performance among physically dispersed participants virtually linked in the space of the Internet to make cultural connections via art and technology.

Once I decided to go for it, everything seemed to fall into place. I was offered an artist residency at the Waag Society for Old and New Media, located in an old castle in the heart of Amsterdam. They provided me with an atelier, technical resources, and access to a multimedia streaming theater, which was on the top floor and, in days past, was inspiration from which Rembrandt had painted "The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp."

I proposed to develop a show involving networked performance between artists in New York and Amsterdam. That idea became "son(net) subterfuge" which was a project between artists in Amsterdam, New York, and Helsinki. Performers took one of Shakespeare's sonnets and remixed it as a sound, video, or dance piece. The resulting pieces were then streamed and projected during a live performance that happened simultaneously in each city, allowing for real-time online collaboration and trans-cultural interpretations of classic literature.

Another opportunity to perform surfaced and I did a second show called "Viroid Flophouse," an exploration of playable art in an online gaming environment which incorporated dance, motion tracking, streaming, and performance -- created collaboratively by my team at the Waag Society for Old and New Media and Arizona State University.

Living abroad was an eye-opening experience -- a wonderful gift I wanted to pass on to others. This year I decided to create a series of networked performance events that connects kids in different countries. Kids Connect is the result, launching this summer with the help of some very talented colleagues.

Kids Connect is a series of workshops for young people in multiple locations. The goal is to teach them to connect and work together, in person and remotely, with audio/visual and Internet technologies. Teens in each city are taught theatrical and technology-related skills, facilitated by media and theater artists. Then they use those skills to create a performance that occurs both live in theaters and online simultaneously in the virtual world of Second Life, an international gathering place that facilitates collaboration, learning, and creating.

It's been a challenge making this project happen, but one that I believe in and would happily take on again…putting my best Fulbright foot forward and closing with the last commandment of skydiving: "Be joyous."


Competition Statistics and Fulbright At-A-Glance Pages

by IIE Staff

Fulbright At-A-Glance
Fulbright At-A-Glance pages
We have revamped the competition statistics page and included links to 'Fulbright At-A-Glance' information PDFs for the following regions: Africa, East Asia/Pacific, Near East/North Africa and South Asia, Western Hemisphere, and Europe/Eurasia.

Download the 'Fulbright At-A-Glance Africa' PDF here


PowerPoint Presentation: How to Enter your Campus Deadline Dates on fulbrightonline.org

PowerPoint Presentation
How to Enter your Campus Deadline Dates on to fulbrightonline.org
We would encourage all Fulbright Advisers to make sure the campus application deadline appears on their college or university page on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions included in the PowerPoint presentation. Click here to download the PowerPoint Presentation

Posting your campus application deadline will remind students, who've been away from campus for the summer, to focus on the application process now, and be better prepared by the time they return to school in the fall.

To confirm your ID or password, please contact Walter Jackson at wjackson@iie.org.


2006 Fulbright Newsletter Archive

Browse through our archive of 2006 Fulbright newsletters here: