Fulbright program takes students around the world

Imagine yourself in another country for a whole year. You don’t know anyone and you might not even know the native language, but you’re given a grant to teach people your language.The Fulbright program gives you this opportunity. It offers grants to become a teaching assistant in more than 60 countries, according to Castleton State Librarian Sandy Duling.

Fulbright is a prestigious program that looks good on any resume, Duling said, and you don’t need to be an education major. Because of the way the application and selection process is set up, Duling urges interested juniors to start working on the application now.

Rasha Arabi, a Syria native who teaches Arabic at CSC, is here because of the Fulbright program and said that it took almost a year for the application process. Arabi is here until July, when her one year program ends.

She said her experience has been life-changing and eye-opening.

“It might be just the Vermont culture, but it is certainly more quiet here,” said Arabi looking out her window into the nearly empty Leavenworth lot and comparing Vermont to Syria.

Arabi came here because she loves to travel and wanted to go to another country and be in a different culture.

Despite being grounded in Castleton because she doesn’t have a car, she said she still loves it.

“I feel the small college with a big heart everyday with my students,” she said.

She urges anyone with questions about Fulbright to talk to her either in person or through her Castleton e-mail.

But Arabi is not the only one at Castleton who has Fulbright experience. Duling went to Finland and Dean Renny Harrigan went to Germany after she graduated college.

Harrigan went because she had no idea what she wanted to do, was a European History major and wanted to learn the language. While there, she worked in a high school where she learned the culture differences.

Harrigan suggests that those who apply need to be independent because of the language barrier and also to be someone who wants to work with young people. She recommends it to anyone who has a sense of adventure and wants to expand their horizons.

She also said if Fulbright doesn’t sound just right, those looking to learn abroad have other options on to the schools study abroad Web site (www.castleton.edu/travel).

Harrigan said she loved her experience, evidenced by the fact that after she retires this year she plans to teach English as a second language in Mexico and Peru and possibly Vietnam.

“The known doesn’t interest me as much as the unknown as long as I’m healthy,” Harrigan said.

To learn more about the Fulbright Program, contact Duling at sandy.duling@castleton.edu.

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