In an earlier post (The Clues Are All Around You) I addressed the single most common question from readers of this blog: “OK, you convinced me of the personal, professional, and cultural benefits of short-term working vacations. Now, how do I find them?” Fair question, and in that post I talked about one possible technique–being hypersensitive to clues about overseas opportunities that appear in newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio, and which emerge from on-line discussions and personal interactions. Some of my most rewarding postings came about from something I read, such as an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about summer school teaching shortages in Israeli universities, or something I saw on TV–a news segment about the Royal University of Bhutan, the first university in that remote Himalayan hideaway.
However, there is an even better source for working vacations–the Fulbright Grants Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright program is the single greatest source of paid overseas opportunities in the world–each year they pass out 1,200 grants to 140 countries for periods ranging from three weeks to one year. I have been lucky enough to receive four–Mauritius (1995), Malaysia (2001), Nepal (2004), and Mongolia (2006). If you are a teacher, doctor, nurse, lawyer, engineer, scientist, artist, musician, librarian, or other skilled professional, there is a high probability that Fulbright has a need for someone with exactly your skills.
In the coming weeks and months I will be authoring a series of articles about the Fulbright program, including some “tricks of the trade” for writing a successful proposal. (I am batting .800, with four out of five.) These posts will be on a site entitled The Wandering Educator, and I want to invite everyone to read them–I will post links to the articles as soon as they appear. Even though they are on a Web site meant primarily for educators please remember that the Fulbright program is NOT, repeat NOT, limited to academics. It is open to any U.S. citizen with a useful skill, a sense of adventure, and a desire to see the world.
The first post, entitled “The Fulbright Program,” went up today, and it highlights a number of common misconceptions about the program. If you have been motivated by the arguments in my blog to consider a working vacation then these are posts you simply must read. As I write in that initial article:
Fulbright is the very essence of what is so great about working vacations: You have an amazing cultural experience, become part of a fascinating overseas community, and do not quit your job, sell your home, or kiss friends and family a permanent good-bye–they will all be waiting for your return. Best of all, you do all this on the other guy’s dime!