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Fulbright | ... in the spirit of service


Fulbright Teaching/Research Grant at University of Kankan

In November 2005 came word that a Fulbright teaching grant in Guinea, at the University of Kankan, had not received any applicants. The US Embassy's then Public Affairs Officer (PAO) in Guinea, Louise Bedichek, was leading an effort to find one or more qualified individuals to apply for the spot for the 2006-7 academic year. I contacted her, which led to a number of other contacts (many emails), and then I developed and submitted an application. (This was a bit challenging as I was teaching at the time, and my family and I were also making a local move in Chengdu.)

This was well past the normal application deadline, but evidently in cases like this where a position that has been regularly filled over the course of years has no applicants, it is accepted practice. The Université Julius Nyerere de Kankan (its full name in French) had had a number of distinguished American Fulbright scholars and instructors over several years. The university and the embassy were invested in this relationship and wished it to continue. For my part, I saw an opportunity to build on my previous experience in the region and do some research on language and community development, while having the chance to teach some courses in one or more areas related to my studies.

My application passed peer review and was received very positively by all interested parties. And then it was turned down in April 2006. The explanation I got (not in the formal rejection, which followed a standard format) was that I had been out of the US for too long. Indeed, while considering applying for the following year (2007-8), I was told by email in July 2006 that the J. William Fulbright commission had adopted a new rule that grants in this category would not be awarded to anyone who had been outside of the US for 5 of the preceding 6 years. And that based on this rule I would be ineligible for the 2007-8 year as well. In later years I had other concerns, so it did not work out to return to this opportunity.

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