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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations. 

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

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Atlantic Review Receives the Fulbright Association's Mulert Award

Many organizations give awards to prominent people, who have already received dozens in the past. Sometimes it seems the purpose is not to honor the recipient of the award, but to use his or her fame to shine a light on the organization that is bestowing the award. Many also combine the awards ceremony with a fundraising dinner.

Not so the German Fulbright Alumni Association, which awarded the Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding 2015 to this blog. I will keep you post regarding the project that I will implement. 

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Tomahawk Missiles Instead of Fulbright Scholars

After 9/11, the US Congress realized the need for in-depth knowledge of world affairs and advanced language proficiency and increased the Fulbright-Hays budget. This program "supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-Western foreign languages and area studies."

Apparently the post-9/11 era is over now. A few days after Bin Laden's death, the 2011 Fulbright-Hays dissertation fellowships have been cancelled due to budget cuts. $5,800,000 had been estimated, when the US Department of Education invited applications in September 2010, while pointing out that "the actual level of funding, if any, depends on final Congressional action."

It's a disgrace that this prestigious and important fellowship program does not have secure funding.

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Israel Does not Allow Fulbright Grantees to Leave Gaza (UPDATED)

The State Department has taken Fulbright scholarships away from eight students in Gaza, because of Israeli travel restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled part of the Palestinian territory.

Sounds like a PR disaster for Israel and the US due to the lack of cooperation among bureaucratic. The New York Times talks about "longstanding tensions" between the US consulate in Jerusalem and the embassy in Tel Aviv and also says that the Israeli defense department and prime minister's office disagree whether a Fulbright grant is a "humanitarian necessity."

How shall there be any economic and political development in Gaza as well as some pro-American sentiment, if students are not allowed to leave the Gaza prison strip? The New York Times also points out:

Some Israeli lawmakers, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments.
"This could be interpreted as collective punishment," complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament's education committee, during the hearing. "This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules."

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum
Experiencing America: New Book by Fulbrighters
• Fulbright Workshop on Implementing a Digital Library for the Maghreb

UPDATE: Open Letter by Fulbrighters: Reinstate Fulbright Grants to Students in Gaza

The Petition Site: Help Palestinian Fulbright Grantees Get Exit Visas from Israel.

The BBC reports that the State Department has reinstated Fulbright grants. (HT: Omar)

Academic Updates

1. Update for the Atlantic Review post Study Abroad Programs Questioned:
According to Indystar and the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York attorney general has issued five subpoenas in this matter, with more to come. Among the companies under investigation are the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University; the American Institute for Foreign Study; the Institute for the International Education of Students; the Center for Education Abroad at Arcadia University; and the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, affiliated with the University of Copenhagen.

2. Update for More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum:
Australia has recently granted asylum to three former Iraqi diplomats, but its foreign minster has since stated that this did not create any precedent, reports the

German Tourists Are Told To Criticize Human Rights Violations

Many Germans lecture Americans about their country's alleged wrong-doings. The foreign ministry's human rights envoy apparently wants to utilize our penchant for lecturing others. Guenter Nooke appealed to the 44m Germans who travel overseas every year: 
"Too many travellers are uncritical, or have a false solidarity with the governments of the countries they visit," he said, arguing that visitors should talk to "people in authority" at airports, museums or hotels in ­countries where abuses of women's or children's rights occur or where the death penalty is practised. (...)
Tourists to destinations such as Turkey which attracted 3.7m Germans last year should be aware of the limits on press freedom and "deficits in the country's legal system", and could engage with local people on these issues. Equally, visitors to Egypt where 1m Germans travelled last year could ask hotels for information on why emergency powers have been in place since the early 1980s. Tourists visiting the Olympics in China next year could organise "private meetings" with local citizen groups, although he warned against actions that endangered visitors or locals. Regine Spöttl, of Amnesty International, said she was "thrilled" by the appeal and said visitors to luxury hotels in Dubai, for instance, should confront hotel managers over the working conditions of low-paid Bangladeshi women staff, who regularly faced rights abuses.
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More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum

Molly Hennessy-Fiske has interviewed several Iraqi Fulbrighters, who want to stay in the United States, but are told to honor their Fulbright contract: "Before foreign Fulbright scholars arrive in the U.S. they sign a contract promising to return to their homes for at least two years before pursuing permanent U.S. jobs or residency."
Other exchange programs are less restrictive, but the Fulbright program's mission is that the grantees return to their home countries and apply the skills they learned in the US. The Institute for International Education (IIE), which is contracted by the Department of State to run the Fulbright program, cannot give advice to Fulbrighters on seeking asylum.
The IIE, however, runs another program called the Scholar Rescue Fund, which is financed by the federal government and some foundations. The Scholar Rescue Fund "has helped resettle 100 academics since 2002, and members of Congress want to set aside millions in Iraq war funding to aid more," but Fulbrighters are not eligible.
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