CIES Secretariat    Florida International University    312 ZEB    Miami, FL  33199

Number 144



Fulbright Connections – Going Abroad and Hosting

Dr. Kristi Johnson and Dr. Shelly Haser*


Have you ever thought about applying for a Fulbright grant or hosting a foreign faculty recipient of such a grant at your institution? The following accounts briefly relate what Dr. Shelly Haser experienced as a U.S. faculty member on a Fulbright Lecturer grant in the Slovak Republic and what Dr. Kristi Johnson’s efforts entailed to try and bring a Fulbright scholar-in-residence to Marymount University.

Part I: Going Abroad

     Dr. Haser was awarded a Fulbright lecturer grant for a semester at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. As a U.S. faculty member there, she would teach three courses, two of which were an introduction course on U.S. special education to undergraduate Slovak students.  The third course was on the etiology of emotional disabilities. In turn, Dr. Haser would learn about the special education program at Comenious University, which had a unique emphasis on a therapeutic approach through literacy and the arts. The whole semester was a learning experience for her beginning in late January with the three-day orientation in Telc, Czech Republic.

The spring University semester in Slovakia commenced in mid-February and ended mid-May For the “Introduction to U.S. Special Education” course, Dr. Haser modified the course syllabus used at her home institution.  She taught two sections of this course. The first class had 24 students ages 19 or 20 who were taking the class to satisfy two University requirements: one was a foreign language since the class was in English and the second was an elective.  Overwhelmingly, the students were interested in the topic and wanted to improve their English skills. 

Dr. Haser’s teaching methods were a combination of lecture and interactive activities.  This style was different from what the students were accustomed to. At first, they were more comfortable with straight lecture; however, after a few meeting times, they liked the interaction and looked forward to the engaging activities.  The varied interaction enhanced the class cohesiveness. 

During the semester, Dr. Haser had opportunities to learn from her foreign colleagues as well in the area of “biblio-therapy.”  This was a new topic for Dr. Haser and she was able to incorporate this body of knowledge into her teaching in the U.S. Before leaving, Dr., Haser was invited to give a lecture on a “Snapshot of U.S. Education”, which included a question and answer session with about 50 students and faculty. 

What was learned from the semester abroad as a Fulbright Lecturer? Generally speaking, Dr. Haser found that students who choose to become teachers have a basic desire to learn and help others. Also, she stretched her teaching and communication skills to connect effectively with foreign colleagues and students. In addition, new relationships were forged including those with other U.S. Fulbright faculty who were spending time teaching in Slovak institutions of higher education. Also, one of Dr. Haser’s students came to the U.S. to visit her two summers in a row.

Part II: A University’s Pursuit

 The other side to the Fulbright experience involves hosting a foreign faculty member at a U.S. institution.  The concept of a visiting scholar who would teach, research, and participate in academic activities while living in an academic community would provide a perspective that was unparalleled.   One thought was that Marymount University’s faculty members would benefit and the students who were fortunate enough to attend classes of a visiting faculty member would benefit as well.  To move this idea to another level, Dr. Johnson contacted a professor in the sociology department at Marymount University and together the two faculty members embarked on a long journey toward developing a proposal to apply for a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence.

Before submitting the proposal to the Fulbright Commission, a plan was presented to University administrators for their approval. After gaining the appropriate University support, the final proposal was prepared requesting an individual for the Scholar-in-Residence program.  The original proposal was accepted and an award was granted to the University for a visiting scholar who would teach and collaborate with the U.S. faculty members on comparative immigrant issues, policy study, and social justice. 

  Proposed outcome goals of hosting a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence included expanding international thinking and experiences of students and faculty at Marymount, extending global interests, and exposing different cultural backgrounds and ideas.  During Dr. Johnson’s endeavor, there were several obstacles along this journey, not the least being financial.  The first block involved living expenses in metropolitan Washington, D.C.   The Fulbright living stipend was not enough and it was difficult to obtain internal extra funding to augment this stipend.  Unfortunately, there was a time limit for the Fulbright Award and Marymount University was not able to work within that timeframe.  Currently, Marymount University still intends to identify a foreign Fulbright scholar for the interdisciplinary setting.  Dr. Johnson and the University have confidence that the right match will happen. 

Concluding Thoughts

Both “connections” of a Fulbright experience – going abroad and hosting – have possibilities for students and faculty to learn and grow.



*Shelly Haser, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Education Dept. Chair
School of Education and Human Services
703-526-6855 (phone)
703-284-1631 (fax)
Marymount University
2807 N. Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22207

Kristi Planck Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of Education
Marymount University
2807 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Virginia 22207


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