Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fulbright scholarship for Afghan students

KABUL, Dec 22 (Pajhwok Afghan News): After the 9/11 attacks on Afghanistan, the U.S. focused on helping the educational system of the country by offering the Fulbright programme for the Afghan students for the first time in history of the war-wracked country.
The Fulbright programme not only covers full tuition and living expenses for the students, but also helps Afghan students in processing their visas for entry into the United States.
Afghanistans major issue throughout history had been the illiteracy of the majority of Afghan citizens. The highest degree a student can get in Afghanistan is a B.A. or B.S. or their equivalent.
It is hard for many Afghan students to study abroad. In addition to economical incapability, Afghan students face many political challenges that cause difficulties for them to study abroad.
The aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001 caused changes in the U.S. foreign policy toward Afghanistan, which resulted in the development of an educational relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Once the United States top rebel country, Afghanistan is now among the nations that receive U.S. military, financial, and educational support.
Afghan students wait years to become eligible for the Albright programme. One such student, Qais Faqiri, was in high school in 2004 when he heard from an American journalist that the first group of Afghan students made their way to the U.S.
Faqiri, who managed to seize the Fulbright opportunity this year, will come to the U.S. in 2007 as an undergraduate student. Faqiri said, I waited for three years before I became eligible for undergraduate. Faqiri is a sophomore in journalism at Balkh University, ranked second among five universities in Afghanistan. Faqiri sees the Fulbright as an opportunity that can change his life. Similar to many Afghan students, Faqiri has high expectations for this programme. He hasnt come to the U.S. yet, but he is already envisioning his bright future upon his return. As he said, When I get back, obviously, I will work in key position in my country, somewhere that I would be able to make a difference.
The Fulbright programme for Afghanistan is offered for different fields such as business, engineering, public health, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, environmental management, public administration, film, literature, journalism and communication. For Afghanistan, the programme is offered at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Mohammad Omar Sharifi, who is currently studying at Columbia University, will be the first Afghan with a Masters Degree in anthropology. Sharifi worked for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society (FCCS) in the capital city of Kabul in Afghanistan.
Sharifi was among some lucky Afghans who had access to the Internet in the office where he worked. He heard about the Fulbright programme from the U.S. embassy website.
Sharifi can see himself in two possible careers on his return to his countrya teacher in one of the universities in Afghanistan or a researcher in a cultural organization.
Sharifi waited for a year to get his visa to the United States after he completed the application for Fulbright. He said, You have to be patient because the process is very long and time consuming. Sharifi found the programme very diverse and completely different than what he was used to.
He said that in Afghanistan he was taught in a system where professors made students agree with what they thought. Sharifi said, [Here] they teach me not how to learn, but how to think and how to develop my own idea. . Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill to President Harry S. Truman in 1945, and the President signed it on August 1, 1946.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) oversees the Fulbright programme as an implementing partner for the U.S. Department of State, which funds the programme. IIEs Programme Officer for Afghanistan and South Asia, Jeremy Block, said that the number of grants Fulbright offers for each country depends on the amount of funds available for the programme. Block said, For 2007, we are expecting 30 grantees from Afghanistan. Students applying for the graduate programme must have completed a Bachelors degree programme at any accredited university and have some work experience. 470 score in TOFEL is requirement for the programme.

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