Out of the 18 Bowdoin applicants this year, two seniors have won Fulbright grants, and four of their classmates have won funding for teaching assistantships.
Daniel Jeong and Eli Garrard won Fulbright grants. Nick Powell, Derek Brooks, Zach Crawford, and Shazeda Ahmed received the other awards.
Each year the Fulbright Program funds approximately 1,000 Americans who study or conduct research in any field. The other type of grant, which is not provided by the Fulbright Program, provides funding for students to work as English teaching assistants at schools and universities in foreign countries. Last year, approximately 870 teaching awards were made.
"The idea of Fulbright is for selected candidates to act as mini ambassadors while they're at their host countries" said Cindy Stocks, director of student fellowships and research. "The mission of the program is cross cultural exchange."
"Bowdoin has a really strong support system for placing students at different types of fellowships," said BSG President Derek Brooks, who received the Austrian Government Teaching Assistantship, and will be a teaching assistant at a university in Vienna.
Julia Littlefield and Kara Wilson, both of the Class of 2011, received the same award last year, and are currently working in Austria. The Austrian government funds these assistantships.
The selection process is highly competitive. Candidates start their applications in September, and often do not hear back from the program until April or May.
Basic benefits of the program include a living stipend, round-trip transportation, and health coverage. Every program varies, however, in the amount of benefits that participants receive.
Forty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel prizes and 78 have won Pulitzer Prizes.
Stocks said the program has become increasingly competitive over the years. When she first joined the Office of Student Fellowships and Research in 2008, 25 percent of applicants won awards. That figure has since decreased to 19 percent.
"More and more students are looking for options to delay the job hunt because of the economy," Stocks said. "Meanwhile, more and more colleges are setting up fellowship offices to help students become more competitive."
Crawford is one of the students who received an Austrian Government Teaching Assistantship.
Crawford has a longtime connection to German culture. His father travelled around Germany in the '70s and worked at a brewery in Munich.
But it was not until Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that Crawford tarted taking German classes. Exiled from his city, he had to attend a new school. He had been taking Chinese previously, but the new school did not offer it; instead, it offered German.
Since then, Crawford has become a German major, served as a teaching assistant to Professor Steven Cerf's German 101 class, studied abroad in Germany during his junior year and travelled extensively around the country.
Crawford will be teaching English at a technical university an hour away from Vienna and does not yet know what he will be doing following his year in Austria.
"For me it's sort of an opportunity to have a little more time to figure out what I want to do after," Crawford said.
Congress established the Fulbright Program in 1946. It has served as the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government ever since. Other governments often sponsor the program as well.