Letters of Affiliation; ETA Proposal Writing

Dear GU Fulbright Applicants

1) I have had numerous questions on letters of affiliation this week so I’ve decided to address the issue in detail. ETA applicants should bear in mind that, unless your country profile states otherwise, you do not need letters of affiliation for the ETA. If you are proposing a small side project for your ETA however, you may need an affiliation letter for that. It depends on what the needs of your project are and what you propose to do in the community. 

For research grant applicants, the Fulbright website has a detailed section on Letters of Affiliation (among other things) here: http://us.fulbrightonline.org/application-tips/academic so review this thoroughly.

There is no limit on the number of affiliations you can have. Every successful Fulbright applicant has at least one letter of affiliation. The average in my experience is two letters. What you must make sure of is that they are relevant to your project, and that the recommender knows you, knows about your project and is interested in supporting your work in a formal or informal way.

This does not mean that the letter has to come from someone who has actually met you in person. It may be a contact with whom you have had only email exchanges. But, they must be familiar with your project, and their letter must specifically identify the ways in which they/their organization will be able to assist you when you get to country. You can also address this role in your statement of purpose methodology, but since you don’t have a lot of space there, if your affiliate can go into detail in their letter, this will be to your advantage (they have no page limits).

The writer of your letter of affiliation must be in the country you are applying to. Ideally it is a native organization/academic/prominent person in the field. You cannot get letters of affiliation from American organizations/persons in country. The point of the Fulbright is cross cultural interaction and they are sending you there to create links and knowledge with local organizations.

As your affiliate writes your letter the most important things are a) that they think your research is feasible given the timeframe and resources, b) that they are willing to help you accomplish your research objectives, and if possible, how they are going to do so, (how they will help you need not be detailed in this letter. You can detail it in your research proposal if that works better. But again, think about space issues.), and c) it would also be helpful if you can get some kind of indication that they think your research is worthwhile and useful.

Remember, everything is now uploaded to the Fulbright electronically. So your affiliates can either scan a pdf of their letter, signed and on official letterhead and email it to you, or they can mail you the hard copy, and you can scan and upload it to the Fulbright website. Either way, you are responsible for uploading your letters of affiliation to the Fulbright website.

Lastly, what to do if you’re having trouble finding affiliates? You have to use your network. Talk to your faculty mentors and experts in your field. Who do they know and can recommend as contacts in country? People are more likely to open your email if in the subject line you say “Writing on reference from X” and they know who X is. Who do their contacts in country know that they can put you in touch with? You should also look up past Fulbrighters to your country on the Fulbright website. As I hope you have discovered by now, you can search Fulbrighters by country and by year on the Fulbright website. Then, google them/linked in them/facebok them/email the FPA for their school to try to get contact info. They will be a tremendous resource for contacts in country. Another good resource is to go to the CIES website. The CIES runs the Fulbright for US professors to go abroad and for foreign professors to come here. Look at their lists of grantees. It will tell you who are the US professors who’ve been to country and who are the professors from that country who have come here. Reach out to these people, they are more likely to respond to you because they have a link to the Fulbright program.

But please remember, keep your emails short. First emails should only be one paragraph long, something like “My name is X and I am putting together a Fulbright proposal to Y country focusing on Z topic. I see from the Fulbright/CIES website that you are a researcher from/conducted research in ABC. I would appreciate speaking to you further about your Fulbright experience and learning more about your work in country. Might we be able to have a brief phone conversation on… I would be happy to call you at your convenience and look forward to hearing from you.” Short, polite and to the point. This is more likely to be read and responded to.

2) The feedback I’m getting right now indicates that a lot of English Teaching Assistantship applicants are still confused about what their project proposal should entail. You only have one page for the project proposal, so this needs to be very tight writing. It might be a good idea to begin with your philosophy on education and teaching, then in the next paragraph or two, delve into detail about your qualifications for this ETA grant. Have you taught before? Do you understand what it means to work in a classroom environment? Have you worked with ESL or EFL students before? What are the challenges you’ve observed or expect. How have you dealt with these?

You should end by identifying either a project you would want to implement with your students (remember, this should be 1) suitable given the resources in classrooms in your country, 2) appropriate for the age of students you expect to work with, and 3) general enough that you could do it anywhere in country unless the country asks you to specify a city or region, then you should cater it to that location. Often, the project you want to do with your students is strongest if it builds out of a passion you have pursued e.g. you are a linguistics major with a passion for photography on the side, and you’ve got this photography project you want to work with your students on, and it will assist them in learning English in XYZ ways. Alternatively, if your country is open to you doing a small side research project, you can also discuss this project in the proposal. For e.g. you are an English major and art history minor, and you’re going to be in a city with a great art library on X painter you’re doing your thesis on, and in your spare time you plan to research at the library and write a short paper on this painter. 

Either way be careful of two things 1) teaching must and will take up most of your time. The ETA is not an excuse to get to country easily so you could do research on the side. The project must be small enough to allow for teaching to take up most of your time and attention. And 2) you will be an assistant in the classroom, not the English teacher. Your role is that of examplar of native speech and English cultural education. You must write your essay to show that you understand this role.

Now, given that the project proposal is only one page long, your personal statement is really an extension of your project proposal. In the personal statement you can spend time discussing 1) how you came to be interested in teaching, and why you want to pursue teaching on this Fulbright year, 2) why you want to do the ETA in this particular country, and 3) where is this leading and how does this ETA fit into your future career/academic trajectory? You have to show the Fulbright and the country in question why you are a good investment in the field and for the region.

As always, please send questions via email to fulbright@georgetown.edu. As a reminder emails you send to my personal email address may not be answered because I am out of office for most of July. If you send them to fulbright@georgetown.edu Ms. Tuckley, GU’s other FPA, will receive and respond to your inquiries.