Many nations, one ‘big family’
Fulbright scholars learn about more than language
Tiffany Krause | Collegio Reporter
Ilnur Khuzin says when he came to Pittsburg State University, the thing that most surprised him was the laid-back educational environment. He says living in the United States has been a big adjustment. Khuzin, a Fulbright scholar, says he is surprised that students are able to dress however they want when they to go to class because, in Russia, the universities have a dress code.
“It is also acceptable for students to have food in class,” Khuzin said. “It’s not that way in Russia.”
Khuzin has made enormous strides in his teaching career by applying and being accepted into the Fulbright program. He will be teaching introductory courses in Russian for the 2012-2013 school year. Khuzin was awarded the Fulbright teaching assistantship after he had been teaching at a Russian university since 2008.
“I wanted to compare the educational systems of the United States and Russia and to further my own professional development,” Khuzin said.
The Fulbright program is educational in nature, and offers about 8,000 grants each year to students who want to go abroad after earning their bachelor’s degree. The main goal is to improve the understanding between students in the United States and people in other countries.
The Fulbright application consists of a purpose statement, a personal statement, a foreign language proficiency evaluation (only for the teaching assistantship application), official transcripts and three letters of support from faculty members. Khuzin says that the personal statement is probably the most important because it gives applicants a chance to show their personalities and make themselves stand out.
Since it began 60 years ago, more than 318,000 students have gone abroad through the Fulbright Program. Fulbright offers three types of grants for U.S. students. Study and Research grants give students support for up to a year of studying or performing research in their choice of field. Students who are awarded the English Teaching Assistantships teach English in schools overseas.
The Fulbright program is competitive, but there are many things students at PSU can do to make their applications stand out. Students should apply the summer before their senior year, since applications are due in September. Deadlines are non-negotiable, and the application process can be stressful because you have to wait to hear back about your application. One of the most important things applicants can do to prepare for the Fulbright is study the country they want to visit, and make connections with the people there. Khuzin says he did just that when he visited the U.S. for a work-and-travel exchange in 2003.
Megan Corrigan, study abroad coordinator, says she encourages students to develop international connections by joining the Global Leadership Institute on campus, joining the International Student Association or getting a conversation partner to help them practice their English. She says all of these help boost resumes when applying for the Fulbright program.
Khuzin says that the process of assimilating into a foreign culture was made easier, thanks to the orientation for Fulbright scholars that was held in Indiana. Khuzin says he met with Fulbright scholars from all over the world, and together they learned what to expect and how to cope with any difficulties that may arise.
“We became a big family,” Khuzin said.