Officially a Fulbrighter!

After a summer of writing and rewriting my application (from Madagascar, no less), copious emails to numerous individuals and organizations across multiple time zones, and a painful several months of waiting for a decision, I got the official notice in March 2019 that I had been awarded a 2019-2020 Fulbright Student Research Grant in Indonesia – with a grant period of 10 months. I read the acceptance letter while stuck in traffic in southern Virginia while traveling for work. A few weeks later, I learned that I had also received a Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA), which allows me to spend the first three months of my grant dedicated to exclusive, in-country study of the Indonesian language so that I can sharpen my communication skills for the remainder of my grant period. The addition of the CLEA extended my grant period to a total of 12 months. Exciting news!

So what will I be doing in Indonesia? I’m glad you asked!

I’ll be completing research as part of my master’s program at Villanova University and using that research as the basis of my graduate thesis. My independent project is titled “Analyzing the Rural Utilization Potential of Alternative Feedstocks for Anaerobic Digestion in Indonesia.” I know, it’s a mouthful.

I plan to study the social and technical feasibility of using agricultural wastes, primary plant-based, as substrates to generate biogas in rural households for use as cooking, heating, and lighting fuel. Many rural Indonesian families are subsistence farmers, but they are unable to afford the capital cost of owning livestock, such as cows or goats. Traditional small-scale biogas is produced primarily from animal manure, but if we can find a way to use plants, then there could be significant social, economic, and environmental benefits for rural families!

So when will I be officially headed to Indonesia? Well, that’s the tricky part. The administrative process – permits, visas, etc. – is taking longer than expected. Once that’s complete, I’ll be cleared to travel. We’re hoping for early October 2019, but if I miss that soft deadline, I’ll be traveling in January 2020. Stay tuned for updates!

What is the Fulbright U.S. Student Program?

In my own words, the Fulbright Program is an educational, international exchange program that allows students from the U.S. to apply to teach English, complete research, or study in other countries across the world. Foreign students can apply to come to the U.S. to study as well. Generally, applicants to the program are recent graduates, master’s and PhD students, and young professionals. The Fulbright program facilitates cultural exchange and allows participates to live, work, and interact with a multitude of individuals from their host country through daily community engagement. Grant lengths and available positions vary by country. This is a U.S. State Department Program – funding is provided by the U.S. government, and the Institute of International Education (IIE) handles applications and administers funding. Fulbright is considered to be one of the most prestigious and internationally-recognized exchange programs in the world!

You can visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org to learn more!

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