I began my Fulbright adventure the spring of my junior year at Coe College. I have dedicated weeks to researching countries and spent my entire summer break crafting two perfect one page essays. I submitted my application in October after an extensive on-campus vetting process. I received word in early February that my application had been passed onto Malaysia’s selection committee and I was considered a finalist for one of the hundred Fulbright awards for 2014. So I waited.
Until today I received the email I have dreamed about opening time and time again: “Mr. Stanford, Congratulations!…” Tears flowed from my eyes. I couldn’t even read the rest of the email. I was too lost in the emotions of hard work, patience, and uncertainty. It had all paid off. Finally, some clarity. I was a Fulbright Scholar.
I am a Fulbright Scholar!
What an honor. I am so thankful for the support and kind words I received along the way. I am so grateful for those who guided me through the application and interview process. Of the four individuals who submitted letters of recommendation on my behalf, three are former Fulbright Scholars themselves. One is a two-time recipient of the award. I am also very fortunate to attend Coe College, a top producer of Fulbright Scholars last year and an institution that is well-respected within the program.
While I believe it is difficult for me to process the magnitude of this moment, I am beginning to realize how much I will benefit from this experience as an educator. While my time spent student teaching in Chicago has opened my eyes to realities I was previously unable to identify with, my perspective is going to expand even wider in Malaysia. I cannot wait to representing myself, my loved ones, my college, and my country come January.
When I think about the life skills I want to instill in my students, I immediately think about their ability to contribute to the global community. My mission as a Fulbright Scholar will better equip me with the tools and experiences to accomplish this goal. In this sense, I am not the only individual benefitting from my Fulbright experience. In order to shape young minds to embrace a global perspective on learning, I must experience an authentic global perspective myself. Thanks to the Fulbright Program, I am now on my way.