“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
For many Americans, the very mention of China immediately evokes a swirl of images—vast landscapes, fascinating history, magnificent art, dynamic social change, a powerful economic engine. Undoubtedly it is one of the most interesting, exciting, and challenging Fulbright scholar opportunities in the world. As one recent grantee wrote in a holiday letter to friends: "It is a fascinating place…my Fulbright experience has provided a wonderful opportunity to be able to see Chinese wrestling with huge problems, sometimes in very creative and responsive ways."
He went on to say that he was positive that spending five months in China "will be one of the defining moments in my life, but I am not quite sure how at this point…I wish I could afford to stay the second semester, because I am only beginning to have insights to the culture and to make long-term friends…I hope to come back frequently in the future." And he has.
Another grantee who had had a previous Fulbright grant wrote: "It was the best Fulbright I have had, including the one in Australia. For that matter, it was the best I have heard of ...All in all, I haven't learned as much about a place I knew less about in years. I want to go back now that I have invested so much in learning a bit of Chinese and try to figure out a bit about China's politics and prospects…Put me on the dance card for another crack at China in two or three years."
A U.S. embassy exchange officer has observed that one fascinating aspect of the program is that it may be difficult to get people to China "but then harder still to get them to leave." Since the program began slightly more than 20 years ago, several hundred American scholars have participated. Most grantees report that they are fundamentally changed by their experience. One indication of the depth and long-lasting nature of China's appeal is that many Fulbright alumni either apply for second grants or, using other resources, regularly return to China.
Each year 20 to 25 American scholars with expertise in wide variety of academic disciplines--American history, literature, politics, culture and society, economics, business, journalism and communication, higher education administration and law –are invited to teach for one semester or a full academic year. Some teaching grants include the option of also conducting research. Pure research opportunities are also available in China studies, social sciences and humanities. The program also offers
distinguished lectureships in study of the United States, economics, as well as law. These distinguished chairs also offer enhanced stipends.
China welcomes young, senior and retired scholars to its universities. Professionals (e.g. attorneys, journalists) with a minimum of five years of teaching experience (this can be as an adjunct) are eligible to apply. Over the years, numerous grantees have taken their families, including children of all ages.
In addition to what is already one of the most generous benefit packages in the Fulbright scholar program, prospective applicants for lecturing and lecturing/research awards should note that if the standard benefit package combined with other income received during the grant period (e.g. sabbatical) is less than a grantee's normal salary, recipients of lecturing awards will receive a supplemental payment to bring the total package to the same level as the individual's salary for a comparable period at his/her home institution up to $100,000.
Applicants should also note that the host universities provide free housing for the lecturing grantees.
Fulbright placements are in universities located in major Chinese cities, many of which lie along the country’s eastern coast. Grantees typically note that their students are bright, enthusiastic and hard working. As the American scholars share their knowledge of the United States and the skills of their disciplines, they learn about China from their students. Grantees also develop collaborative relationships with faculty colleagues that lead to joint research projects, and they encourage and facilitate the development of institutional linkages between their host and home institutions. One of especially attractive feature of the China Fulbright program is an extensive in-country lecturing program that provides grantees with the opportunity to travel to locations throughout the country.
A pre-departure orientation is held in Washington to prepare grantees for their experience and in-country orientations are held in China at the beginning of each semester. The second semester orientation is combined with a mid-year conference that focuses on professional development and provides an opportunity to meet and to share ideas and experiences.
Visit the China Initiative page for a key announcement about this country’s program.