CMU faculty share their Fulbright experiences below. Feeling inspired? Check out the various Fulbright opportunities you can apply for.
Dr. Soloman Addis Getahun
2001-2002 & 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar to Ethiopia
"I was first awarded the Fulbright Student (2001-2002) award for researching Ethiopian immigrants and refugees in the US. My research in Ethiopia was intended to gather data/information on the contribution of the Ethiopian diaspora on Ethiopia's economy. I also explored the impact of diaspora-Ethiopians on encouraging further migration and the introduction of a newer culture into Ethiopia.
I received my second Fulbright (2012-2013) to Ethiopia as a faculty member to conduct research on a History of Political Violence in Ethiopia. Between 1975 and 1979, the military dictators that ruled Ethiopia (1974-1991) killed innocent bystanders, irrespective of age, gender, and religious affiliation. The victims' deceased bodies were left on the streets to forewarn the so-called "counter" revolutionaries.
While the 2002 Fulbright grant contributed to the fruition of one of my earliest books, a History of Ethiopian Immigrants and Refugees in America, I am still working on the information gathered during my second Fulbright to produce a monograph on the Political History of Ethiopia.
The Fulbright grant enabled me to conduct my research and thus has immensely contributed to advancing my academic career. What is more, the experience is very rewarding. Therefore, I strongly advise anyone to apply for Fulbright. "
Professor David Stairs
2000-2002 & 2012 Fulbright Scholar to Uganda & India
"I've had two Fulbrights: teaching and research at the Margaret Trowell School of Fine and Industrial Art at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda (2000-2002), and a research grant sponsored by the Srishti School of Art and Design in Bangalore, India (2012). In both places I researched and documented vernacular design.
The impact of my Fulbright to Africa had a profound effect on me. I had wanted to go there since adolescence, so it was a dream come true. The two academic years provided me with material that has found its way into several articles, an artist's book (2003), a documentary film (2019), and is still proving fruitful.
Advice: The difference between grants to sub-Saharan Africa, which are scarce, and grants to India, which are plentiful, makes a considerable difference in overall support; in Africa it's much greater. My advice to prospective applicants is to have a strong reason for your first choice and secure the appropriate sponsorship."
Dr. Mike Pisani
2019 Fulbright Scholar to Paraguay
"I was a Fulbright Scholar to Paraguay from January through May 2019. My primary host institution in Asunción was the Centro de Análisis y Difusión de la Economía Paraguaya(CADEP), the nation's leading economic think tank. At CADEP, I focused my research on the Paraguayan informal economy, a sector that employs nearly two-thirds of Paraguayan workers and produces about one-third of all economic activity. With CADEP colleagues, I authored a monograph (Understanding the Determinants of Economic Informality in Paraguay: A Kaleidoscope of Measures) and several research reports. This research on informality was shared in-country where I publicly presented my findings at the Central Bank of Paraguay. The research with CADEP is ongoing with the latest project focused on entrepreneurship in Paraguay to be published as a book in Spanish, "Emprendedurismo en Paraguay: Descubriendo Gacelas entre los Cuentapropistas" (Entrepreneurship in Paraguay: Uncovering Latent Gazelles Among the Self-Employed), by the Inter-American Development Bank in late 2020 or early 2021. On Saturdays while in Paraguay, I taught a course on the informal economy at La Universidad Católica de la Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
The Fulbright allowed new partnerships in research and teaching. For teaching, my classes today connect with student groups in Paraguay, and I am able to bring a new country's insights into my principal teaching areas of international business and international management. Personally, I maintain robust relationships with many Paraguayans formed during my Fulbright.
Advice: While the Fulbright is highly competitive (I have served as a reviewer for Fulbright Scholar business applicants), actively explore the opportunity. The process takes a long lead time and requires active participation of administration and helpful others, such as the Office of Global Engagement. The Fulbright will enhance your teaching and research trajectories and hopefully lead to positive change in the many lives you will touch as a goodwill "ambassador" and scholar representing the US and CMU."
Dr. Felix Famoye
Statistics, Actuarial & Data Sciences
2009-2010 & 2016-17 Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria
"I visited the University of Lagos, Nigeria in 2009-2010 and again in 2016-2017 on Fulbright grants. I will concentrate on my experience during the first grant. I taught three courses in the first semester and two in the second. Over the year, I gave three Reading/Independent Study Courses to five PhD students. I supervised both undergraduate students' and MS students' research projects. I assessed the Statistics major and made recommendations. I presented nine SPSS workshops to over 400 graduate students.
I served on a department committee and four university committees. I chaired the Mathematics Department Ad-hoc Committee on the Statistical Consulting Unit. This was based on my suggestion to create a Statistical Consulting Unit for the whole university. The Data Analysis and Statistical Consulting Unit was eventually approved by the university authority. I was the unit's director until my grant ended.
I had four research publications in international refereed journals. A Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Lagos and CMU was initiated during the grant period and was signed after I returned to CMU. Some University of Lagos academic staff have visited CMU to complete their research. I also gave some recruiting presentations at the University of Lagos, which led to more than a dozen students coming to CMU for their graduate work.
Advice to any one visiting Nigeria or any other similar Sub-Saharan African country:
Contact your host department and ask for the courses they want you to teach. Teaching and research facilities and resources may not be adequate. Nigerians are very formal. You will need to learn African (or Nigerian) time."
Dr. Hope Elizabeth May
Philosophy & Religion
2017-18 Fulbright Scholar to S. Korea
"I was a Fulbright lecturer and International Scholar at the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies (GIP), Kyung Hee University (South Korea) in 2017/2018. My Fulbright project was titled "The Virtues of Untold Stories: The Peace History of Korea and the United States." At GIP, I taught a seminar on what I call "erased positive history" concerning Korea and the U.S. I also taught a class devoted to Korea's March 1stMovement of 1919.
My interest in Korea arose out of my research on the Peace through Law Movement in which, incidentally, CMU's 4thPresident, E.C. Warriner was active. Some of the most important moments in the Peace through Law Movement are two Peace Conferences that met in the Hague in 1899 and 1907. Korea tried to attend the 1907 Conference but was shut out by the international powers. This pattern of shutting out Korea continued even after World War II. I have been researching that little-known story since 2012 and doing so has transformed my life. It led to many invited talks in Korea, which laid the foundation for my Fulbright. To be sure, my Fulbright grant has also been transformative, deepening my understanding of Korean history and culture, and enriching my professional network both in Korea and in the United States. In February 2020, I was nominated to be Fellow of the Institute of Corean-American Studies because of my research on Korean history, and especially the March 1stMovement.
Advice: My advice to faculty interested in a Fulbright is that the choice of country should arise organically, and make logical sense given a faculty member's research program. I was encouraged to apply for a Fulbright by CMU alumnus and Fulbright recipient, Ben Harris ('14), who studied with me in The Hague (Netherlands) in 2013 in my faculty-led study abroad course focused on the Peace through Law Movement. I would visit with Ben during my trips to Korea, and he encouraged me to apply. This impactful advice and encouragement from a student remains one of my favorite stories about my Fulbright.
For those applying for a Fulbright, I suggest participating in the free webinars that are offered during the application period. They proved to be invaluable in helping me to organize the application. I also urge faculty who do receive a Fulbright to use that as the beginningof deeper international cooperation between the U.S. and the host country. This was the vision of Senator Fulbright, who created this program after World War II to create more international harmony through academic exchange."