I am currently in Lithuania with a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research fellowship. When I was getting my master’s degree back in the mid-1990s, I spent a year in Lithuania on the Fulbright student exchange. I arrived in September 1993 as one of the first set of Fulbright students sent to Lithuania. These two opportunities to study in Lithuania through the Fulbright program have allowed me to do my research, but they have also been life-enriching experiences.
The Fulbright program not only sends Americans to other countries, it also provides opportunities for students and scholars from other countries to study and teach/research in the United States. On Friday, I served on a panel that interviewed nine Lithuanian young people who were finalists for Fulbright student fellowships to study in the United States. They had been selected from 20 applicants. I really enjoyed the experience — they were all smart young people who are enthusiastic about their studies and proposed projects. It was a varied group — doctoral students in philosophy and political economy, a lawyer, a graphic designer, a non-profit program manager and a public health researcher, as well as students in real estate and international relations. In each case, studying in the United States — mostly for a master’s degree — would give them opportunities that aren’t available in their field here in Lithuania. We selected four students and one alternate to receive a fellowship.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the interviews. It was fun to talk to the students. It was also interesting to see the exchange program from the other side of the table, so to speak. I wish them all the best of luck in their year in the United States — I hope that the experience is as life-enriching for them as it has been for me.