Fulbright: Being a Scholar and a Student – An Indonesian EFL Perspective

Studying in the United States, especially as a person who carries the word “Fulbright”, asks me to learn more than what I was required to do. In my understanding, being a Fulbright scholar is not easy. It needs a lot of efforts on the academic scope. Since I am a faculty member in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, I use this Fulbright scholarship to adjust my professionalism in the field I am dealing with, which is English Language and Literature – Teaching of Writing. Even being a scholar for my field of study needs times and a lot of efforts in order to be a “scholar”. I would assume that it is a moral duty of mine to study seriously and read exponentially in order to be reliabe for calling myself as a “Master” for a specific field. Since I am studying Teaching of Writing (Rhetoric and Composition – part of the big scope of English Studies); therefore, I would expect that most of my times would be spent for reading and writing. For some people, these two things are very boring activities to do, but for me, these two are very enjoyful. A lot of insightful perspectives, theories, concepts, and ideas are sparkling in my mind after reading many wonderful textbooks. Reading the works of other scholars improves the way I think and the way I make decisions dealing with a lot of different things in life. At this point, this is the reason of mine to study in the United States under the name of Fulbright Master’s Student Program. To briefly illustrate the reasoning behind my motives in studying English in the United States, especially as an international student whose first language is not English, I divided several points below to explain my own thoughts dealing with the title “Fulbright Scholar”. What I write here is merely my own arguments. For you, in case you are also getting involved in this Fulbright scholarship, of course, you have your own thoughts that might or might not be the same with mine. You may dislike or argue the following arguments by composing your thoughts, feedback, or comments under this post. If you are not part to this scholarship, I suggest you to read this writing as a way for you to know my own point of view about what it means to study overseas. However, your input is also suggested.🙂

Understanding the Core Aspect of Being a Scholar versus Being a Student

For some people, being a scholar means you have a Ph.D or you have an approval from the institution where you work in order to enable you to be called as a scholar. To be honest, though, after I read some of the interesting journals and writings in American textbooks, I concluded that being a scholar means you know what you are studying in your field. In my case, I learn English, wish the emphasis on Teaching of Writing. Of course, for English-speaking people, this field of study might sound, “ah…not that challenging”, but for me, it is indeed challenging. Considering my background as an English as a Foreign Language speaker, coming into a society where English is being used all the times give me a new perspectives. English is my language, now. How about being a student? Being a student means you are in the process of becoming a scholar, although it will not make you automatically become a scholar in your field. Being a scholar requires you to have a responsibility over the knowledge that you earn through the process of studying and learning that you do.

Appreciating the Value of Your Times when You are in the United States under the Government Visa

I know that I am under Government Visa. It takes me two years to complete my study in the United States. Frankly speaking, the good thing I have learned so far is to see directly people who come from other countries, such as Japan, China, India, Taiwan, Morocco, Latvia, Turkey, Korea, Nigeria, and many more. Of course, I also talked to many types of American students. I talked to them as friends. It turned out that I found many similarities that I have with them. Then, at this point, actually, I mean that I spend my times not only studying but also having conversation with those folks. I tend to be not too be pushy to myself. I like it in a slow process. If some of them become good friends, why not? Although differences do exist, but those differences are very tiny compared to many similarities that we have. Human beings. Only bad human beings that make harmful actions in the society. Do you agree?

Having times to be in the United States for only Two Years asks you to Make Options before Arriving in the United States: Studying or Learning, Travelling or Sight-Seeing

This is a common question I have from my friends in Indonesia. To be honest, though, I did not travel a lot, for I know that the costs to travel are high. In reality, I can be in the United States to study because of scholarship. Also, considering my purpose in that place as well. I went to Denver for a seminar, Chicago for reporting myself to the embassy, and St. Louis to enjoy some of Middle Eastern styles. How about other places? Well, for these things, I need to be realistic. I know my financial condition so I decided to not travel. Not because that I did not like those places, but more on money. So far, I have studied many things about the United States. From its policy up to social issues. I have come deeper to understand the United States, more than I would know before.

Appreciating the Different Choices that other International Students make regarding their individual circumstances (academic goals, personal habits, times and allocated stipend)

This point is crucial. For me, I came to the United States to study. I learned very much from my Professors and classmates. We shared our own experiences. I learn to see how individual American people have individual history of live that I personally never encounter. Some of them might view me as a stranger because I have different views. However, that would be a good point for them, too, to learn something new from others. I learn from them, the good things, and they learn from me, the good things. We can make our world better, with that attitude. Going back to each and every individual international student, the decision is in their hands. They do, of course, have purposes that they need to achieve while they are in the United States.

Referring back to your own Study Objective in the Fulbright Application Document and to what you had promised at the Fulbright Interview Selection

I never forget this part. I used to view myself how lucky I am to be selected by AMINEF in Jakarta to be a part of this prestiguous scholarship. When I was being interviewed by the panels, I answered all questions as truthful as I could. Then, I am in the United States, then, of course, I need to do all what I said in the interview as real as possible. Even though at some points in my life that missing my family is a big challenge, but I know that at the end, it will end in happy ending. I become a person with a high credibility and professionalism in my field.

How about the following points? If you are a good student, I believe you know what I mean.

Setting your Academic and Personal Goals: Long-Term and Short-Term – Setting Priorities

Writing a Solid and Thoughtful Research Article – Between Grades, Knowledge, and Skills

Deciding what is Crucial, Important, Necessary, and Necessity during your Times in the United States – Contextual Approach

Concluding – It’s All Yours to Decide – What you are doing and reading will essentially be your own knowledge and experience.

Insya Allah, I will be a good Muslim scholar. It takes me a great moment to be in Dunya and Hereafter to do good deeds. However, I am still trying. Learning is a never ending effort if we want to be a good person not only for ourselves but also for others around us. Amen.🙂

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