Application Tips from Suzanne Dunai, Recipient of Research Grant to Spain

Hi! My name is Suzanne Dunai and I am a PhD student in the History Department at UCSD. I was awarded the Fulbright to Spain for the 2015-2016 academic year so that I can perform the research necessary for my dissertation on food culture and food politics during the years of rationing in Spain(1939-1952). This was my second application to the Fulbright grant (my first application was rejected in the first round last application cycle), so I strongly encourage you to keep applying and refining your application as long as you are eligible for the grant.

Because of my experience in having both one unsuccessful and one successful grant, I want to share some of the things that I learned in the process. First and foremost, have as many people read your statement of purpose and personal statement as possible. They don’t have to be in your field or department. In fact, it is better to find people with different backgrounds to read your grant application because the grant committees can be diverse. This is especially true if you have to translate your grant to another language. [Comment from FPA: Spain requires applicants to submit their statements in both English and Spanish.] Second, save enough time before the submission deadline to ensure that you have the proper page formatting. Every line counts in the grant application, so do not wait until the final draft to write your heading. By my final draft, I was making revisions based on the number of letters in each word to keep my draft within the page limit.

Thirdly, what is important is that your research goals are very narrow and very polished. Remember that the Fulbright does not have to encompass all of your dissertation work, so there is no need to include ALL theory, sources, archives, etc., in the application. For my successful application, I narrowed the scope of my application to one city instead of three. While my dissertation will still include archival materials for a larger project, I only presented the most precise elements of my research in the application, which helped with clarifying my research goals for the grant and for my project. The statement of purpose should present a cohesive project which is obtainable in the time/financial allotment of Fulbright. In the end, it is the coherent project that gets funded, not the exhaustive. This also applies to the content of your proposal. Make sure that your application doesn’t favor theory to the extent that your own intervention is lost, and you do not want to present too many lists of sources or archives in your statement as this consumes space without providing interest in you as a candidate.

Finally, one major change that I made between my first application and my second is that I included the presentation of my initial research at a conference in Spain near the end of the academic year. I explained in the “country participation” section that I was going to apply to present my initial findings at a conference for young scholars in my field so I could further develop my project and academic network. This addition might have shown greater purpose or academic motivation for my dissertation, or perhaps it did not help or hurt my application at all. Unfortunately, we do not receive comments on our applications, so my thoughts are just speculative.

I hope my reflections on the Fulbright appliction help. Good luck!

Update from Katie Kinsella, ETA in Colombia

Hello potential Fulbrighters,

My name is Katie Kinsella, and I’m a Fulbright ETA living in Cali, Colombia. I wrote a blog a few months back outlining what I’d be doing for the next year in Colombia. Five months in, I wanted to update you all on the successes, challenges, hilarious situations, scary experiences and daily adventures that have defined my time so far here in Colombia. Although I miss hot showers and pumpkin spice lattes, what I’ve discovered here in Colombia about myself, about this beautiful country, and about the inspiring lives of the Colombians I’ve encountered makes everything worth it.

I’ve been called ‘tia de tenis,’ ‘maestra,’ ‘Miss Kinsella,’ ‘teacher Quedi,’ but this is the first time in my life that I’ve been called ‘profe.’ And I have to admit, I really like it. The first time a student called me Professor, I looked around behind me, not realizing the person they were calling was me. This title has been something I have had to live up to. It has motivated me to design every lesson and every class on socially relevant topics that will inspire and challenge my students and call out small and large scale global issues that people so often ignore or choose to overlook. I realized the first day teaching at Universidad del Valle that I would not have to worry about things like indifference or lack of motivation. I also learned fairly quickly that I am teaching a group of revolutionaries! These are students who have seen a lot of the violence in Colombia and are sick of it. They want to see change. No one is silent. They want to be heard. They have overcome a lot in their lives to have a seat in a classroom at UniValle, one of the top 3 best universities in Colombia. They are studying education so they can be that change that they so badly want to see in their country. They are noble, they are daring, they are sometimes extremists. They will be the ones to a light a fire in this country, to scream out to the people in charge who are blatantly failing the Colombian community, to demand justice in places where injustice has permeated all parts of society. They truly are little revolutionaries and I’m both inspired by and slightly scared of what they will accomplish here in Colombia in the next 20 years!

Every Sunday night, I get excited to start the week, to see my university students, and to feel the energy of Universidad del Valle. Throughout the week, I teach 6 different classes for 2-hour class sessions all day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All of my students are studying to become English teachers, which I just love because I can share with them my classroom experience as well as theoretical knowledge that I gained from my masters program and thesis on bilingual education in San Diego. One of my favorite things about being a professor is office hours! Students sign up for hour sessions- some just want to practice English through conversations and sharing life stories, some bring in articles to analyze, and some of them I’m advising and helping apply to scholarships to study in the US. Office hours have broken down barriers and transformed my students into great friends. Every day I feel honored to be in the same classroom as them. I feel humbled by how they have opened up their lives to me. Some nights I come home exhausted with a raspy voice, some nights I come home feeling more like a psychologist than a professor, and some days I come home feeling like I didn’t even go to ‘work’ because of how much fun I had.

In addition to my time working at the university on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I also am conducting a social project on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Aguablanca, the largest Afro-Colombian community in the country, which is marked by a high level of poverty caused by displacement. I work with a foundation called Fundación Paz y Bien. This non-profit organization consists of a microcredit loan program that gives small loans to local residents to start their own businesses. There is another program that works with displaced people and victims of the drug war with home visits, counseling, and community-wide meetings every Thursday to educate this population on their rights as victims under the “Ley de Victimas”. There is also a branch that works with vulnerable at-risk youth in danger of being recruited for gangs. The organization encompasses everything I believe in about development, with an emphasis on education, leadership, empowerment, and sustainability by creating a path to autonomy, freedom, and independence. On Tuesdays, I hop on a bus that takes me into the heart of Aguablanca, where I work with kids ages 4-18 years old teaching them English in a series of classes I’ve called “Language Empowerment.” I help the teenagers look for jobs, save money, learn about their rights, and help create community leaders by telling them their voice matters. On Thursdays, I work with a population who has widely been overlooked by society: internally displaced people (IDPs), displaced by the violence that has plagued Colombia over the past few decades. I have learned that Colombians are celebrators of life. Despite the hardship they have lived through, this rowdy group of 80-something-year-olds turns every meeting into some kind of dancing and singing performance. I am currently helping them write their life stories so that they can share with the world their reality, a reality that many people around the world have no idea exists.

I’ve realized that I’ve never been more satisfied in terms of work than I have been here in Colombia. I am doing exactly what I have studied to do, what I am most passionate about, what I have been trained in, what I was made to do. I can’t believe how every experience in my life has led me here to this crazy little town that sometimes infuriates me but sometimes inspires me. What a trip.

Katie 1 Katie 2 Katie 3 Katie 4 Katie 5

Kristina Pistone on Watching the World Cup in Chile (and Argentina)

Hello everyone, greetings from Chile!  Sorry for the long delay; things have been fairly busy.  It’s a little hard to believe that I’m now officially halfway through my Fulbright grant (you may remember that in the southern hemisphere, the academic year runs March-November rather than September-June, because of seasons).  For anyone who would like to read about my work and life in Chile so far, I have a more frequently updated blog at travelingscientist.wordpress.com.

Regarding my project, things have gone somewhat slower than I had hoped, due in large part to a number of only-in-South-America setbacks, such as “official data” which is blatantly and inexplicably not quality-checked, meetings with relevant persons canceled and not rescheduled, and general unavailability of instruments needed to calibrate the other instruments.  (Not that things have completely stalled; if you’re interested in my project I have a few posts on my own blog about that!)  Fortunately (from my perspective), the feeling of unproductivity in our projects seems to be common among many of us Fulbrighters here in Chile (or perhaps is just indicative that many of us had far too ambitious projects plans).  But there has definitely been no shortage of cultural experiences.  One of the major work delays this month was also one of the biggest cultural experiences: the World Cup, or the (Copa) Mundial as it is commonly called.

As I described on my blog, Chile’s first game was played on a Friday evening, so basically the entire city shut down early (well, earlier than they normally do on a Friday afternoon).  As with any sport, not everyone was into it, so I still went to my mapudungun class, but as this is close to the city center, we could tell when the game was over (Chile won) by enormous cheers coming from outside.  The second win 2-0 against Spain (the reigning champions from 2010, so quite a surprise) which secured their space in the octavos de final was on a Wednesday– I didn’t even bother to go into work that day, even before they won.  People would disappear in the middle of the day to watch a number of other countries play as well, particularly Colombia and Germany, although oddly not neighbors Argentina– more on that later).

The saddest experience was Chile’s match against Brasil (on a Saturday, so no official work conflict).  After 1-1 (which, Chileans will remind you, was the product of an inadvertent own-goal on their side, Brasil couldn’t even score against Chile!!), extra time, and 4/5 penalty kicks, Chile’s fifth attempt hits the post and Brasil advances.  After the partying and vandalism following the two wins in the group stage (there was the threat of a transit strike during the third game against the Netherlands because of vandalism to the buses– I guess “fortunately” they lost, though?), this last-minute loss/elimination left the city of ~7 million people completely silent.  I know of no cultural event in the US that could provoke such a united response among nearly everyone in the country.  But the team returned home as heroes, including taking selfies with la presidenta.

Chile Mundial

(photo credit Katy Indvik)

As an undergrad (also at UCSD!) I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, so I have a certain affection for that city and Argentina as a whole.  From the beginning I suspected that statistically, Buenos Aires was going to be a more interesting place to be during the final than Santiago, and after delaying because I was trying to convince other people to come with me, I bought my plane ticket the week before the final (right after Argentina secured their spot in one of the last two matches).

In the semifinal match Argentina v Holland, it was really interesting to see the Chileans rooting for the Dutch.  There is an almost sort of sibling rivalry/resentment between these two countries in particular that I really can’t fully explain.  According to Chile, it surely goes back to Argentina stealing land from Chile and cutting off their energy imports, and anyway, Argentine wine totally sucks, you guys; according to Argentina, have you heard what Chile did to Peru and Bolivia? Chile’s pretty terrible, there! This is one of the very few areas in which I will play the role of dumb gringa and say “oh, really? I didn’t know that, that’s interesting, I’ll have to read up on it more” and not get into it any more than that.  Regardless, I was very glad I went to Buenos Aires, even though it resulted in my cell phone being a casualty at the obelisco (PSA: kids, don’t let yourselves get distracted for even a second, even when they steal your hat.  Or maybe grow a third arm so that you can have one hand on everything at a time, and an extra for the hat-stealing contingency, sigh).  But regardless, it was great to watch the game with people who actually wanted Argentina to win.  And even having lost to Germany, the argentinos were still partying.

Argentina Mundial

Dino Hat

(selfie with my soon-to-be-stolen hat.  It had dinosaur spines down the back and everything…)

Also… I hadn’t noticed it before, but I’m pretty sure the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires was heavily inspired by another library… http://www.buenosaires.travel/Biblioteca-Nacional.aspx

Introduction to Katie Kinsella – ETA to Colombia

Hello, UCSD! My name is Katie Kinsella, and I will be moving to Cali, Colombia, in 3 weeks with Fulbright’s English Teaching Assistantship Program 2014-2015.

Why did I decide to apply to be an ETA in Colombia?

With learning a language comes confidence and empowerment. The ability to speak English in Colombia will allow for social mobility within Colombian society in addition to opening a world of opportunities for Colombian adults in our increasingly globalized world. As an ETA, I will aim to encourage students to expand their own horizons and worldviews by learning about the American culture and English language, in the same way that my eyes and heart have been opened to the Latin American region of our world. Research I have conducted as a masters student at UCSD shows that using pop culture in the foreign language classroom can increase student motivation to learn as it further develops students’ media literacy skills, critical thinking skills and trans-cultural skills. As an ETA in Colombia, I will incorporate pop culture and provide a socio-cultural context to language instruction that allows students to discuss and explore social issues and comparisons across cultures.

While I am in Colombia, 20 hours of my week will be spent teaching English and holding conversation clubs at the university. The other 20 hours of my week will be spent on a social project of my choice; the details of this project will come to fruition once I’m in the placement city, but right now my idea is to partner with a local non-profit organization to promote community empowerment among the Afro-Colombian marginalized populations in the neighboring sector, Agua Blanca.

The Fulbright application itself is a daunting process, but don’t let it discourage you. My best advice is to put your heart into it and take advantage of mentors; professors; UCSD’s Fulbright Program Advisor, Zoe; and friends and family who are willing to read through your statement of grant purpose to give you feedback. Since I found out I was accepted back in April, the Fulbright commission has done an amazing job of sending us detailed information about our placement city; assigning us to a specific Fulbrighter from last year with whom we can Skype for an insider’s perspective; and initiating online weekly webinars on what to expect in Colombia, what to bring, the Colombian university environment, and sharing the challenges as well as the successes of those who have come before us. We have been responsible for sending in our medical release form from our doctor, sending copies of our official transcripts to the International Institute of Education, and filling out quite a bit of paperwork and forms to sign, upload and email. Although the details vary from country to country, Fulbright Colombia has purchased our roundtrip plane ticket through their own specific travel advisor and done a great deal of the visa process so all we have to do is show up at the Colombian Consulate in LA to get our visa stamp in our passport. I have truly enjoyed reaching out to past Fulbrighters in Colombia and learning more about my specific role in the university and what social projects they have conducted as well. Before even stepping foot in the country, I feel very connected and welcomed into the Fulbright Colombia community. Let the countdown begin!

 

 

 

Kristina’s First Post from Chile!

Greetings from Chile!  Zoe asked me to write this post about 3 months ago, but in the flurry of writing a dissertation, defending said dissertation, and doing all travel preparations including packing my entire life into a storage unit it’s been on my to-do list for at least a month.  Sorry about that!  I’ve been giving more incremental updates on my blog at travelingscientist.wordpress.com.

Given the nature of my work, I didn’t have to deal with any special export licenses for my Fulbright, but just getting myself out of the country was an adventure, specifically the visa.  I may have mentioned previously that the visa application includes a number of seemingly excessive requirements, such as an FBI background check (which itself requires a set of fingerprints– no, not THOSE fingerprints, you need to do it THIS way), a medical form (not actually a form, just a generic letter from my doctor saying I don’t have communicable diseases; I don’t!), passport-size photos, two nearly identical forms with interesting fields such as “mother’s place of birth” and “exact departure date,” and 2-4 weeks.  Did I say 2-4 weeks?  Ha, I actually meant 6 weeks, plus an inexplicable hour and a half in the waiting room at the consulate once it was allegedly finally ready (I fed that meter about four times).  Having just spent the day in the Jefatura Nacional de Extranjería y Policía Internacional to register my visa, this was a pleasantly short hour and a half actually!  (But I made a new friend in the Italian exchange student in line behind me, so yay on that).  Tomorrow (eh, or maybe next week, I have 30 days…) I need to do the whole thing over again in the Registro Civil to get my ID card.  Double yay!

My roommate is great, my apartment is good, the neighborhood is pretty nice.  I found it on a housing-sharing website for Chile, after many disappointing dead ends.  This week I have my Fulbright orientation as well, and will finally get to the Universidad de Chile where I’m working– hopefully after having finally finished dissertation revisions!  (protip: you can submit your final dissertation from elsewhere, as long as you have a very nice labmate/friend who will turn in the physical papers for you to OGS).

Hasta luego!

[Note from FPA: Fulbright grants in the southern hemisphere often start much later than those to the northern hemisphere, since the seasons and thus school years are flipped.  Thus, although Kristina was awarded a 2013-14 Fulbright grant, the grant didn’t actually start until March 2014.  Also, OGS is the Office of Graduate Studies.]

Introduction to Kristina Pistone

My name is Kristina Pistone, and I am finishing my fifth year in the PhD program at SIO. I am studying climate science; my dissertation is composed of two different projects that fall under the theme of the albedo of the Earth, basically how much incoming solar energy is reflected back to space (white surfaces have higher albedo).  Albedo acts as a significant control on global climate, and the biggest components of the Earth’s albedo are sea ice/snow and clouds.  For my first project, I used satellites to look at how the albedo of the Arctic has changed due to recent sea ice retreat (basically, how much darker has it become over the 30-year time period of the satellite record?).  My second project deals with the effects of atmospheric aerosol (particulate pollution) on clouds.  For this project, I spent 6 weeks in the Indian Ocean last year during a field campaign called CARDEX (for Cloud, Aerosol, Radiative forcing Dynamics EXperiment), collecting data both from ground instruments and from small unmanned airplanes.  As I’ll soon be in my sixth year, I’m hoping to be able to defend before I leave for my Fulbright in March.  I’m sure this will present a whole other set of complications, although hopefully nothing too insurmountable!

 

I started undergrad as a physics major, and after spending a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I decided to pick up a second major in Spanish literature.  This may make it sound like my interests are all over the place, and that’s fairly accurate!  I love to travel and feel very fortunate at the amount of travel I’ve been able to do in grad school, such as meetings (I was at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009) and sometimes just for fun (almost everywhere is “on the way home” from the Maldives!).  I was immediately interested in the Fulbright program because I love science, and I loved living in South America, so I’ve been hoping that I’d eventually be able to do both at once!

 

As I study clouds, Fulbright offered a great opportunity for me to expand my dissertation work by comparing my work on the Indian Ocean clouds and pollution we saw in CARDEX with the different regime (i.e. different cloud types, meteorology, and pollution types) that are found in the southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile.  I plan to use my experience with the CARDEX data analysis to look at the SEP stratocumulus.  It typically takes massive resources and collaborations to conduct a scientific field campaign, so I will be working with data collected in the region a few years ago, during a campaign called VOCALS-REx.  Because the interactions between aerosols and clouds are so highly variable, both on a global and local scale, my project will help to place both studies in a more global context.  Since the implications of climate science are so global in nature, I’ve also developed an interest in science communication and outreach (both to the public and to K-12 students) while in grad school.  In Santiago, I hope to also get some experience with this in local schools, which should be an interesting experience in Spanish!

 

Overall I’m very excited for my Fulbright, but also I have much to do before I leave in March!

Introduction to David Morales

[Note from FPA: David recently got word that he has received a Fulbright grant to be an ETA in Ecuador!]

My names is David Morales. I was born and raised in Southeast San Diego- in a small community, right next to Downtown, called Sherman Heights. I am the first one to attend a university from my family. In June I will be graduating from UCSD, a university that is unknown or, if known, deemed inaccessible in my community.

Throughout my 4 years at UCSD, I struggled with my confidence as a scholar. I felt that the low-income and highly segregated high school that I attended never really prepared me to do the type of academic writing or critical thinking that I was required to do at the university. And although I felt proud and empowered by my culture and my experience growing up in a marginalized community, I could not help but feel less prepared and less articulate than my fellow classmates that, perhaps, were brought up under different circumstances.

I think I have been very fortunate throughout my time at UCSD. As soon as my first year began, I was selected to intern at the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) and in their Language Writing Program. This internship led to my future job as a writing tutor and writing workshop facilitator. The growth and confidence that I acquired while at OASIS led me to apply to the UCSD McNair program. During the length of this program, I conducted research on the militarization of high schools- an issue that I experienced first-hand in my own school. This program gave me the opportunity to present my research in different research conferences, including some at UCSD and UC Berkeley. My experience conducting research and presenting at conferences really boosted my confidence as a scholar. By the end of the McNair program, I was ready to do anything–apply to the most prestigious PhD programs across the nation.

I think that it was towards the end of the McNair program that I started thinking seriously about the possibility of applying the Fulbright program. I remember first hearing about Fulbright during my first year at UCSD. A friend sent me a link to the website through Facebook. I remember reading about the program and thinking that it was one of those things that only geniuses could get, kind of like the Gates Millenium Scholarship in high school. I wrote it off at the time, thinking that there was no way in the world I could one day receive the award or even dare to go abroad for a whole year. But the summer before the start of my fourth year at UCSD was different; I was more confident in myself and in what I could accomplish. As I looked at graduate programs and fellowships, I came across Fulbright again. I was just in time for the application process. I decided to apply.

After completing the application process in early fall, I remember checking my email every day hoping to receive some message from Fulbright. Once I got notified that I had made it to the final round, I do not think that there was a day when I did not check my email. I would check it multiple times a day. One day, I received a small envelope from the Fulbright Commission in New York. It was the notification that I had been accepted to the program!

In September I will be departing for Ecuador on an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant. I chose to apply to the ETA grant because I felt I was more qualified for this position [than for a research grant] due to my experience conducting research in the education sector, my work with OASIS, and my activism in education. I also think that the classroom is a very interesting and unique place. I will be working with university students in a city in Ecuador. I am excited for the learning that I am going to do about Ecuadorian society and its education system. I am also excited to represent the U.S. through my own perspective as a low-income student of color. I plan to conduct research in Ecuador about the educational practices that it employs. I am currently working on my honors thesis for my Latin American studies major and I am looking at neoliberal education and alternative education models in Latin America. I wish to continue this project and explore the educational practices in Ecuador. Overall, I wish to have fun and learn–learn about everything, while I am abroad in Ecuador.

Application Tips from Kristina Pistone

[Note from FPA: Kristina has been selected to receive a grant to Chile!  I’m very excited for her.  Also, she says to listen to me for everything, but of course I should acknowledge that I am occasionally wrong on things. 🙂 ]

— Listen to what Zoe says, for everything

— Like any piece of writing, the more time you have to revise it, the better it will be.  Start early.  Get input from people who have done this before. Revise.  Get more feedback.  Let it sit for awhile.  Go back and revise again.  Etc.

— If you’re in the sciences, this is very different from, e.g., an NSF grant.  My advisor and proposed collaborators thought I needed more “science,” but this goes back to Rule 1.  You’re not writing for scientists.  Now I get to do the actual figuring-out of the science plan!

— However, do get the language requirement out of the way (or at least scheduled) earlier rather than later.  People tend to be out of town August and September.

Application tips from David Morales

[Note from FPA: David is also at the recommended stage and will find out within the next few months if he has been selected for the grant.  He’s applied to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Ecuador.]

The people below me have done a really good job in giving very helpful and practical advice. I agree with all of it and I think that future applicants should definitely follow their tips. Here are a couple pieces of advice:

 

Show your passion. I had a very difficult time when I first started working on my personal statement and statement of purpose. I would type out outlines and write out drafts of the essays. I would read them over at the end and, even though I had answered all the questions provided in the Fulbright application, I wasn’t satisfied with them. After having a friend read my essay, she told me that she couldn’t pick up my passion from my writing. From this moment on, I tried my best to convey my passion. I think that any passion is good. Whether its a passion for teaching (Iapplied to the English Teaching Assistantship in Ecuador), a passion for researching, a passion for changing the world, or a passion for bettering the conditions of your community or family, it really shows that you care about something and it makes your personal statement and statement of purpose really meaningful and important. Use powerful words and anecdotes to show them what it is that you love.

 

Engage in activities that relate to your plans with Fulbright. I think that it is important to show the Fulbright committee that you are really committed and dedicated to a particular issue, profession, or activity. In order to demonstrate this, you have to show them that you have done, or are doing, things that are related to your proposed research plan or volunteer work with Fulbright. I applied to the English Teaching Assistantship in Ecuador. Since the beginning of my career at UCSD I have participated in activities that reflect the kind of work that I want to do in Ecuador. I have volunteered at my former high school and mentored students after school, I have been employed at UCSD as a writing tutor and workshop facilitator, I have participated in community activist groups that deal with issues of educational justice, and I have conducted research on education and Latin American populations through the UCSD McNair program.  I think that these past experiences showed the Fulbright committee that I have a set goal and that I am committed to issues of education and Latin America.

Fulbright Application Tips from Luis Sanchez-Lopez

[Note from FPA: Luis is likewise at the recommended stage.  He’s applying to do research in Mexico.]

Luis Sánchez-López

Department of History

“Constructing the Nation: Education, the Armed Forces, and Health in 19th Century Oaxaca”

Writing tips for prospective Fulbright applicants is more difficult than I thought, especially because I have only been recommended for the Fulbright grant. Nevertheless, I have found some things useful.

Build a Network and Share Your Work

Building a network of people who can support you throughout your time at UCSD is crucial for the development of your project and for your long-term success as a scholar. If you are a first-generation graduate student, building a support system can make the difference between simply “getting through” graduate school and making graduate school the bedrock of your career, regardless of your discipline. With that said, make sure you talk to other graduate students and scholars about your project when it’s time to write the proposal. Talking to people about your project will help you articulate it and make it legible to scholars in different disciplines—the individuals reading your proposal are not always experts in your field. I started writing the proposal about a month before the deadline. [Note from FPA: He means one month before the internal UCSD deadline, not the Fulbright deadline.  However, I strongly suggest starting earlier than this.]  Although the proposal did not entail a significant amount of writing, it has many components that need to be addressed in a rather limited amount of space. Therefore, starting early will give you the opportunity to make all the necessary edits before you submit the application. As one of my teachers told me when I was a kid, “There are no good writers. There are only good re-writers.”

Building a network also means making an effort to build relationships with scholars in the country where you wish to conduct research. Identifying a host institution will make the application, and your research experience in the host country, a lot easier. During my first year at UCSD, I had the opportunity to travel to the site where I am situating my work and met with one of the leading historians in Oaxacan history. Said individual became my official mentor and provided a letter of support for my Fulbright application. I am certain that he would not have written that letter if I had not met with him during my previous trips to Oaxaca.

Edit, Edit, and Edit Some More

Sometimes the hardest part of the application process is sending your draft to a fresh pair of eyes, namely, those of your advisor. I often felt like my draft was not ready to be sent off to my advisor, but I sent it anyway. In my opinion, it is better to give your advisor a rough draft ahead of time than to send him or her a more “polished” draft two or three days before the deadline. Give yourself enough time to write, edit, and edit some more.

Although your main editor will most likely be your advisor, make sure you send your drafts to colleagues, i.e. other graduate students and professors. If you have colleagues who work on a similar topic, time period, or region, have them take a look at your proposal. They will definitely have something to contribute. Also, have colleagues who are not in your field take a look at your proposal. If they have a hard time understanding your project, you may be making assumptions about your audience’s familiarity with your research topic. Don’t assume that people know what you know.

I hope these tips help! Hope to see your Fulbright tips next year! Good luck!