Seton Hall students Adela Perez-Franco and Megan Ferguson both received a Fulbright grant for the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program.
“A little more knowledge and a little less conflict,” is the motto of the Fulbright program, which was founded by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas in 1946.
There are three different types of grants provided by the Fulbright program: Study, research and ETA.
ETA grants include round-trip transportation to the host country, funding to cover room and board, and health benefits. Other countries can have more benefits.
Ferguson’s grant allowed her to travel to Taiwan and co-teach with teachers at local elementary and middle schools.
With this grant, Ferguson was also able to be part of community service projects in her local Taiwanese community.
“I created long-lasting connections between the community and American citizens,” Ferguson said.
In Kinmen, Taiwan, Ferguson teaches seven classes with a local teacher, seven classes on her own, and two smaller weekly storytelling classes.
This totals 186 students that she sees two to three times a week.
“My partner ETA and I are also hoping to start an after school English movie club for students of all ages,” she added.
Perez-Franco, who is also in the ETA program, is currently the English teaching assistant at the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.
Though she has only been there for a month, she said that it has been an amazing experience so far.
“I have met some very interesting and accomplished individuals and have enjoyed working with my students,” Perez-Franco said. “Although I have encountered some challenges, I feel I am settling in well.”
The application process for the Fulbright program is a rigorous one.
Both Perez-Franco and Ferguson had to write two essays, a personal statement and a statement of grant purpose, as well as obtain three reference letters.
From there, the application was reviewed by the National Screening Committee and if deemed worthy, sent to the Selection Committee in Spain for final approval.
Dr. Gabriella Romani was the teacher that encouraged Perez-Franco to apply and wrote one of her reference letters.
Romani said that Perez-Franco is a remarkable student.
“She is smart, focused, disciplined and intellectually curious but in addition to this, she is also a very mature and caring person,” Romani said.
“It is a life-changing experience and I wish that all my students would apply and win it. I was not surprised when I heard that Adela was selected, even though it is highly competitive.”
Ferguson said that her teaching experiences have helped her grow as a more flexible and empathetic person.
“I’ve learned to communicate with students in ways I would have initially been embarrassed to consider: wide, excited gestures, guessing at words and making mistakes,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson advises those who wish to apply for Fulbright that the work is “exhausting and draining,” however, if the passion and drive is there, the Fulbright program makes a difference in the life of a person who strives to make a difference in the world.
The Fulbright organization is an international nonprofit, designed to connect young people from different cultures in order to build foundations for diplomacy.
Under the Fulbright Program, competitively selected U.S. citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad.
Jordan Green can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org