The University of Dallas has a Fulbright scholar for the 2018-2019 academic year: Catherine Blume is a senior English major with a French concentration who will spend next year teaching English in the Czech Republic. She plans to take a six-week intensive course in the Czech language this summer in her hometown of Pittsburgh.
She worked closely with the UD’s Fulbright advisors, especially Dr. Lewallen of the French department leading up to submitting her application for a Fulbright scholarship in the Czech Republic.
“UD has a long tradition of sending people abroad through the Fulbright program,” said Dr. Lewallen.
“We have had strong success. Most years we have one person, sometimes we have more.”
The most common country that UD Fulbright scholars visit is Germany.
“Germany has a lot of grants that they offer and we have a strong German major,” said Dr. Lewallen.
According to Fulbright online, the Fulbright US Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The program is coordinated and funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State in cooperation with programs in over 160 countries throughout the whole world, with most of the program locations in Germany, India, China and Mexico, among others.
English Teaching Assistant programs are the most popular kinds of grants awarded by the Fulbright program, with other types of awards being study and research.
Although Blume does not yet know in what city or type of school she will be teaching, she knows that she will be teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in the Czech Republic.
“It’s 20 hours a week that I am going to be teaching,” said Blume, “so they give you a lot of time to spend outside the classroom getting a feel for the community.”
The mission of the Fulbright grant, which was established by former Senator J. William Fulbright in 1945, promotes international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.
“A big part of it is community outreach because you are being funded by US taxpayers…the purpose is to teach English and to build better relationships between the us and other countries,” said Blume.
Blume is excited to immerse herself in Czech culture.
In her free time while abroad, she hopes to start a book club either with her students or other members of the community who are interested in comparing literature from the Czech Republic and the United States. “I want to go to grad school and so if I’m studying it there among people who are familiar with Czech literature then maybe I can focus on that in grad school.”
She is “really excited to compare the different historical contexts and how the literature was affected because of the different things that were going on [in the United States and the Czech Republic]. A lot of very interesting literature came out after communism fell because there was a huge amount of time that communism suppressed it.”
Dr. Lewallen offered advice for future students wanting to apply for a Fulbright.
“Start looking early. Start doing research about where you might want to go, and come talk to me about it…Each country has a different number of Fulbright awards with different qualifications and characteristics.”
Fulbright is a competitive program, awarding approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.
“One reason is that [UD students] are good at synthesizing whatever knowledge they have in order to make a compelling argument for them to have whatever position they are applying for.” said Dr. Lewallen on what gives UD students an advantage. “Another is that a lot of them have an interest in teaching. And the most common kind of Fulbright to receive is a teaching Fulbright.”