Tips for China Faculty Fulbrighters
• Our first step was figuring out whether it was possible to take our daughters Elizabeth (11) and Anna (9) to China for the semester or a year. (Our oldest daughter Julia and son-in-law Jason are newly settled in Denver.) We explored it both on a personal level (would it be good for our children, opportunities, etc.) We brainstormed, explored the schooling options, talked with John Garvey, the dean of BC Law School, and the Pat Deleeuw, Vice Provost for Faculties at Boston College. It turns out our Dean and Boston College were incredibly supportive of applying for a Fulbright. That made the process much easier.
• Accept that there is a fair amount of uncertainty in the Fulbright China application process. I tried to get more specific information from the CIES folks (e.g., how many applicants, what is the likelihood of getting past the fall review committee, how many of the faculty whose profile is sent to China are actually rejected by China, etc..) Nothing, nada. They played it close to the vest.
• Assuming you pass the US committee, which we heard about in November, your application is sent to China for their review and approval. We did not receive a final confirmation of the Fulbright Award until March 14. (Yes, that deep into the spring semester!) It was helpful to know that the China awards often are made in March. Thankfully I alerted our Academic Dean in the fall so that he knew there was the bubble of uncertainty in the schedule. At the end it was a real burden on the school to have to wait to finalize the first year law school schedule.
• The March 14th notification only told us we had received a Fulbright Award to China. The university placement occurred in May. That was actually a good outcome for our family. We had a chance to think about China “as a whole” and study the map, track where other Fulbright professors had taught, and get a sense of the options.
• We trolled websites (like the one we are posting to) and found it very helpful. Once we knew our institutional placement we made contact with the Fulbright professor who was at the University. In our case, Anne Donohue, a journalism professor, was teaching at Renmin University in Spring 2008. She was invaluable in sharing her experience and advice. Her blog, www.chinajourn.blogspot.com, shared the ups and downs of her experience. That helped manage our own expectations. Since we are going to live in the same apartment that she stayed in, we were able to purchase many of the household items that she used to make her apartment a home. (She, in turn, had a similar arrangement with the professor who taught at Renmin in fall 2008.)