Over the next month, 39 of some of the world’s most promising graduate students will call Manhattan home with one goal in mind: to learn what it’s like to live in the United States.
The crash course in America is part of the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies program. K-State is one of a handful of universities across the nation selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs to facilitate the program, where international Fulbright students learn about U.S. culture, norms, laws, and the education system before heading to their universities of study.
The students typically come with a high level of English proficiency already, but they’ll also brush up on their English skills over the next three weeks.
“It helps K-State fulfill its mission to support global education by supporting Fulbrighters who come here and Fulbrighters who go abroad,” said Mary Wood, director of K-State’s English Language Program. “For the university itself, Fulbright itself is a very prestigious program, and to be selected by them to host students is a very high honor. These students are incredibly bright and motivated. They’re stars in their countries, and they’ll be even bigger stars when they return.”
Most of the students arrived in Manhattan Saturday, Wood said, and on Sunday night, the English Language Program hosted a potluck for the students. While the students will stay in K-State housing and eat most of their meals at the university, the students also met host families who they will visit Sunday evenings for dinners at their houses.
Agnes Chikan, ELP short program coordinator, said she hopes the students get a good taste not only of American cuisine, but in the variety that exists in American family life. She said the program would not be possible without the support of generous families.
“It just goes to show the good heart of the citizens here,” Chikan said.
Edwin Morales, a Fulbright scholar from Guatemala who will go to Texas A&M’s economics department this fall, said he’s been impressed with the hospitality he’s seen in just the few short days he’s been here. While he’s visited the U.S. in the past, he hadn’t been to Kansas yet.
“(The Fulbright program) seemed like a great opportunity to learn about culture, and it seemed like a great personal challenge for myself,” Morales said.
“I want to learn as much as I can to learn about not only American culture but other cultures as well. And better my English, of course.”
While they’re here, the group will visit museums, watch movies, go to Arts in the Park, visit a bison ranch and the Konza Prairie.
Wood said she hopes the group forms bonds they’ll maintain even when they go off to their respective universities.
“This gives them a chance to get their feet on the ground, so that once they get to their universities, they know they can rely on the networks they’ve built here,” Wood said.