US Student Fulbright Program Info Session May 12

Edit: Please click here to RSVP.

The US Student Fulbright Program allows graduate students and recent bachelor’s graduates to go abroad to one of more than 155 foreign countries to conduct research or teach English.  Interested students are encouraged to attend the information session below.  Interested students who cannot attend the information session should contact me individually at

US Student Fulbright Program Information Session

Tuesday, May 12
4:30-6:30 PM
Student Services Center (SSC)

Multi-Purpose Room


Zoe Ziliak Michel

UCSD Fulbright Program Adviser
Foster Chamberlain
Fulbright Fellow to Spain

Sarika Talve-Goodman
Fulbright Fellow to Israel

Come learn about the US Student Fulbright Program, which sends Americans to more than 155 countries to conduct research, complete an arts project, or teach English!

Undergraduates, grad students, and faculty are all encouraged to attend.

Questions?  Contact Zoe Ziliak Michel at

Update from Shelley Guyton

Fieldwork at a Bloggers’ Summit in the Philippines

“You influence people who read your blog or tweet.  You are an authority, whether you want to be or not.” –Jason Cruz, presenter at iblog9

Cruz’s statement above sums up the recurrent theme at the iblog9 Bloggers Summit in Manila, Philippines: that bloggers are the digital influencers in today’s growing online society.  Iblog, a free event now in its ninth consecutive year, was modeled after a similar (and now defunct) conference in the U.S.  The event is intended to cultivate positive interaction and support between bloggers at all experience levels.  I attended this formal blogger gathering not only to establish contacts and conduct interviews with attendees, but also to gain a better understanding at how blogging is organized in the Philippines.

The summit prepared two days full of presentations from notable bloggers, social media professionals, and other experts in the digital field (for example, a lawyer presenting about how the law affects blogging).  The first day operated around topics for bloggers, marketers, businesses and entrepreneurs curious about the commercial potential of blogs.  The second day branched to everyone interested in blogging.

The best way to describe the event is fun, techy, and inclusive, and the best way to illustrate my point is the live tweetwall that organizers screened during Q&A sessions.  Throughout the day, participants—both in attendance, and viewing through livestream—were encouraged to express their impressions and tweet their questions, tagged #iblog9.  After one provocative presentation, “How Blogging is a Lot Like Dating,” in which the presenter likened his blogging experiences to his dating realities, the tweetwall that was screened behind him during Q&A began to fill with playful jabs about his dating life, and then on to public speculation about if the girl in question was in the room and who she was.  The room was full of laughter for about 10 straight minutes while this continued and the presenter played along.

Beyond the markedly young, urban and techy interrelations being played and displayed at the event, I found the presentations themselves could tell me much about how the blogging community defines itself.  Presentation titles like, “Blogging and Social Thought Leadership” and “Bloggers as Digital influencers,” both speak to bloggers’ desire for fame and audience, and also reinforce a consensus that these should be the goals of blogging.   Another presentation, entitled, “Understanding the Blogger Psyche,” reinforced shared conceptions of the blogger identity: opinionated, passionate, and critical.

I interviewed many bloggers (novices to 10 years’ experience), blog group organizers, and social media professionals in casual conversations to gauge their conceptions about the possibilities that blogging might offer them and society in general.  Everyone was more than willing to work with me, and many offered to extend their involvement further.

At the end of event, we all walked out of the auditorium with a notebook full of useful scribbles, a handful of new friends, and an iblog9 t-shirt designed after the Philippines flag.


Fulbright Application Tips from Rena Zuabi

[Note from FPA: Rena is currently at the “recommended” state, which is basically like being a semi-finalist.  We hope she gets the grant!  She has applied to conduct research with olive oil farmers in Morocco.]

Deciding to apply for a Fulbright was the first and greatest challenge I confronted in the application process. With my recent move to the Middle East and a new job, I was worried that I did not have the time or the energy to finish an application that I could be proud of.  The whole process seemed overwhelming and intimidating. Around July 2012, I did not think I would submit one.

By August, however, it seemed that a new job and new move was exactly what compelled me to start an application. Through my work, I coordinate project activities related to sustainable agriculture. I found that this field held enormous potential for economic development in the Middle East-North Africa. Building off of my previous field research in the region, I formed an initial proposal. Ultimately, my first lesson in the application process was to be confident – if you are passionate about something that is relevant to the Fulbright call, start writing!  I learned a few other lessons along the way.

1. Represent YOU, not what you think a Fulbrighter is supposed to look like. This may sound incredibly cliché, but I fell into this trap and it almost killed my personal statement. I finally figured out (after a long conversation with my mom and a lot of thought) that I was just trying too hard.  A personal statement can make or break an application. Make that one page really count by showing what drives you. Do not be afraid to write about what makes you tick.

2. Choose a topic that you are passionate about, but that is also unique. A more competitive applicant can explore the world through different research angles, or can delve into untapped research fields. Don’t be afraid to propose research that is outside of the box. Bounce these ideas off of colleagues, friends, students, mentors, and your Fulbright advisor as you write.

3. Stay relevant. Why this research? What does this give your career or your field? Your Fulbright should contribute to something, in big or small ways.  Make this point clear throughout your application.

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Writing a research proposal is challenging, especially in 2 pages. In my first couple of drafts, I formed an idea that would have taken me years to complete. With the guidance of my Fulbright advisor at UCSD, I scaled down my project and made it more viable for a 9-month period. Also, focus your research not on simply collecting and analyzing data, but on connecting to and understanding local communities and people. The Fulbright scholarship stresses the importance of building bridges between US citizens and people around the world. Tie this concept into your research!

5.  Use networks and resources that are already at your disposal. Securing a country affiliation was not an easy task. I had not done previous work in Morocco despite my experience in the Middle East. Through meticulous research, emails, phone calls, and tapping into existing networks and contacts, I received the type of affiliation I was looking for, as well as some expert feedback on my overall application. Also, start this process early; it takes time for people to return emails and phone calls.

6. Be specific. The Fulbright commission is not paying for you to take a vacation in another country. Your application should be excruciatingly detailed. Think, “Who, what, where, when, why” for every aspect of your proposal. If you start with this mindset, it will save you a lot of heartache later on.

These are just a few points that I know would have been valuable to me as I began writing and thinking about my research.

Good luck in the application process!

Update from Shelley Guyton

In the two months since my arrival, I have barely had a pause to reflect on my time here so far.  In between establishing myself at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, settling into my neighborhood, meeting contacts, and exploring the city and country, life has been shelved away into a motley album of images and mental notes.  I have only just now begun to distinguish what is unique and lasting about this experience.

By now, I have both settled into Manila and learned the best routes to escape it.  This is the biggest, most wonderful, and most overwhelming city I have ever lived in, and living here is in itself an experience of a lifetime.  The Fulbright program, though, has allowed for a depth of experience that I have not had the opportunity to enjoy in other trips abroad.


The Fulbright has given me quality experiences abroad.

Without a doubt, the most significant benefit of seeing the Philippines under the Fulbright program is that I am immediately part of a network of like-minded people here, half-way around the world from my home.  This has given me unique travel company, dinner conversations, and opportunities to take in the country and culture.  One Fulbrighter invited the rest of us to an event during which his NGO affiliate donated solar energy devices to a provincial community.  We got the chance to interact with community leaders and representatives and hear their stories of how the solar energy impacts their lives, and their communities altogether.  Afterward, we hiked through the arresting mountain landscape to a school, where the NGO would install large solar panels to illuminate the classrooms.

Introduction to Shelley Guyton

Shelley Guyton

Project: Negotiating National Identity through Social Media

Location: Quezon City, Philippines

Timeline: November 2012-August 2013

Hello, I’ll be blogging here!

It wasn’t long after I graduated from UCSD that I realized I was at once crossing a milestone and hitting a roadblock.  Maybe they were one in the same—the milestone and the roadblock.  Either way, I was fresh out of school, and desperately cultivating some justification for myself that I was putting my Anthropology B.A. to good use at my new finance job.  It’s not such an uncommon story, and I—like so many others I know— decided I wanted a little bit more.  I thought that the 9-month long Fulbright student program could make a good transition experience to grad school, while also improving my university prospects, and giving myself a tool for real social impact. Most important of all, I would get the opportunity to travel back to my roots in the Philippines.

But first I had to come up with a project.  As a senior at UCSD, I completed a thesis by combining anthropological and literary perspectives to analyze American and European cultural influence on Filipino literature and consider their effects on Filipino national consciousness.  I’ve had a curiosity about my split racial identification (Filipino and White American) since my teens.  That, coupled with my love of literature, is what originally paved the way to my senior thesis topic.  After graduation, I began blogging, and I also managed my father’s business Facebook page.  For these projects, I began reading the book Socialnomics, when I started to wonder how transferable the concepts I had researched for my thesis might be to the new literary revolution (of sorts) via digital media.  Over the past year, during the application process, this conjecture has turned into a full-blown, all-consuming passion.  And now, after actually receiving the grant, I am more anxious than ever to land in the Philippines to meet Filipino bloggers, attend their regional gatherings and national conventions, and interview them on their writing inspiration and mediation process to try to contextualize Filipino national consciousness as it is represented and even negotiated in Filipino blogs.  For this project, I am lucky to be affiliated with the University of the Philippines at Diliman, where I will receive guidance from anthropology department and communications department faculty.

Advice for Applicants

It was a long road (after surmounting the post-graduation roadblock) from deciding to go for the Fulbright, to coming up with a solid project, to tediously building and then finessing my application — all of which would have been much more tedious and less successful had it not been for my advisors, friends, family and Zoe, our UCSD Graduate Fellowship Advisor.  In the end I came up with three points I learned that I think are the most important to pass along to those applying for the grant:

1. Let your previous experiences be your cornerstone.  Choose a research topic that builds on your previous studies and accomplishments, and then don’t forget to point out this fact clearly on the application.  The board wants to know you have the tools to deliver.  I noticed while meeting other students at the Fulbright information sessions that many applicants were unclear about what their projects would be, and even what their most prominent interests were, and even which country they wanted to apply to.  It’s not an uncommon problem to have! If you’ve had success on a certain topic (a thesis, awards, etc.) think of that as your cornerstone to build upon.  You’ll then have every reason to be confident in your current abilities and future success with the project.

2. Show clarity of purpose.  One website ( advises showing “clarity of purpose” in preparing an application, and I found this was the advice I came back to most when I got scrambled during the project proposal.  Making your reason for study concise, understandable and relatable is the best way to win excitement and support for your project.  Remember that an important part of your project purpose is your end goals.  Show how the Fulbright experience, while an accomplishment in itself, will still only be a step toward your ultimate destination (grad school, a business start-up, a novel, etc.)

3. Be patient, prepared and diligent.  The application process is like a slow Monday at work, drawn out over a year.  I started my application process by attending the UCSD “Prestigious Scholarship” informational meeting 1.5 years before my submission deadline, and it really was a continuous project from then on.  Probably, I spent a good few months fleshing out my project, and making sure it was both relevant and manageable.  Leave plenty of time to work out the technical details, like arranging the right university affiliation, and having others check your application and statements for even the most minute punctuation mistake.  Also, your application strategy (personal statement angles, letters of recommendation) may change several times by your own choice or by external factors.

Now that I have the grant and I am preparing for departure in November, I am confronting my expectations (and fears) for carrying out the project.  Although I have previous experience living abroad in England and Ireland, I feel fairly unprepared to take up residency in the Philippines—mostly for the potential language barrier and unfamiliar economic disparity.  As a sort of baby step, I decided a 10-week volunteering and Spanish-learning trip to Guatemala might help acclimate me to the experience of being language-less and culturally disoriented.  The small adventure ended up being very helpful, simply because I came away physically unscathed (contrary to my mother’s infectious worries) and emotionally fulfilled for the experience, and I know I can expect the same from the Philippines.

We’ll see how everything actually pans out!  I’ll be sending updates on my project and experience to this site.  So, until next time, paalam!


Shelley graduated from UCSD in 2010 with a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology, and a Literatures in English minor.  She welcomes questions, opinions, and general chit-chat.  You can visit her online at her travel blog: