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Preparations for departing Fulbrighters

18 July 2011

Last week most of the Fulbright scholars and students departing for Indonesia in 2011 came together in Washington, D.C., for a mandatory pre-departure meeting. There were about 60 of us there, for three days of informational talks and a very nice reception at the Embassy of Indonesia on Massachusetts Avenue.

It was all extremely helpful — we got to talk with scholars who have just recently returned from teaching in Indonesia, and we received an excellent briefing about the education system from an Indonesian grad student who is in the U.S. to study education. I had nothing like this when I left for Malaysia in 2004 — it certainly would have helped me then!

Two of the key practical things I learned:

  1. I need to get extra pages added to my passport, because I have fewer than 6 blank pages. Yikes! This was a surprise to me, but I guess I should have thought about it sooner. Luckily, the State Department has clear instructions for how to get it done.
  2. I need to get a year’s supply of a daily prescription medication I take, and carry it with me to Indonesia.

We were informed that we will be able to get good malaria meds in-country, in case we decide to do some jungle trekking.

Update: Malarone is apparently NOT available in Indonesia. Malarone is the safest anti-malarial medication (does not cause hallucinations).

I became aware of a Fulbright program about which I knew nothing before last week: English Teaching Assistantships, or ETAs. There are a few dozen (!) of these going to Indonesia this year, and many of them are being sent to far-flung rural villages — I am envious of them! The regular Fulbright Student grants enable those who have completed a bachelor’s degree to pursue a research project in a country of their choosing — I met several U.S. students with those grants while I was in Malaysia.

ETAs are different. They will be placed in high schools in Indonesia, and their responsibility will be to teach English there. No teaching experience or training is required, and they will receive Indonesian language instruction when they arrive in Indonesia. How cool!

If, like me, you are a professor — or other professional (including journalists!) — you should look into the Fulbright Scholar grants. These are different from the student grants.

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