Adria L. Baker, Ed.D.
Associate Vice Provost for International Education
What a difference a two-week IEA makes! It was just two months ago that I arrived in Seoul, S. Korea, where I met up with my fellow international education colleagues from around the USA. We were anxious to see everything we could, since we had been well-prepared with many articles and pre-reading orientation materials about our host country. Little did I know how much these colleagues, as well as the Fulbright Korean colleagues, would come to mean to me - and how much I would learn from them, professionally and personally.
To me, having the opportunity just to apply for the Fulbright application felt like an honor in itself. Therefore, I cannot express how happy I was to find out that I was chosen for this program. The International Education Administrators (IEA) Seminar was a great Fulbright option for me, given the program’s purpose, goals, focus, and length of time.
I did not want to attend just any of the IEA programs though; I wanted specifically to apply to the South Korea IEA. This is because over the past decade at Rice University, the Korean student population has quadrupled, and our research collaborations have expanded significantly. We have hosted international delegations from S. Korea, and I have enjoyed learning about the many outstanding and diverse Korean institutions of higher education. I felt I needed to learn more about the country, the Korean people, their education system, and some of the underlying cultural contexts behind them.
Applying for the U.S-Korea IEA would be an avenue where I would seek to:
1) learn how I could better meet the needs of our growing Korean student and scholar population,
2) expand collaborations on my campus with Korean colleagues and universities, and
3) find feasible partnerships, so that our Rice students would be interested in traveling to S. Korea for study, internships, or other educational pursuits. Since I returned six weeks ago, I have been pleasantly surprised by the many opportunities to disseminate the great things about this program through reports, articles, presentation proposal approvals, and meetings. I truly enjoy describing the outstanding hospitality, kindness and professionalism of the Korean colleagues we met. If you are considering applying for a Fulbright grant, I would do so only if you:
1) Aspire to grow professionally
2) Have specific reasons to increase your understanding of the host country
3) Plan to share your new-found cultural understandings widely, and as quickly as possible upon return
4) Can articulate how the purpose of the specific Fulbright program matches your professional needs, so that you can put to use the experiences you gain with others upon return
5) Want to give back to (and through) Fulbright by spreading the news about the wonderful program that it is
6) Seek to expand collaborations, understanding, connections and bi-national mobility with your host country, its people, and the professional colleagues that you meet
7) Desire experiences that will change you in a positive way, creating memories you will never forget! Thank you, Fulbright!