The Fulbright was for someone to teach courses in management at the Tashkent Institute of Finance. I had a keen cultural interest in Central Asia, but my Ph.D. was in Applied Linguistics, & most of my teaching dealt with the English language, with courses like applied linguistics, fiction, & non-fiction writing, I also taught an MBA course in business communication. In my Fulbright application, I stressed the fact that an American business professor teaching in a place like Tashkent would be faced with serious comprehension problems from his students, especially since management has its share of jargon and technical terms. I offered to prepare a book for management students who were also nonnative speakers of English. I was also lucky enough to have had a previous Fulbright, plus several other long-term overseas ESL teaching assignments (in Afghanistan, Saudi, & Indonesia). At any rate, the Fulbright came through, and I arrived in Tashkent with copies of the book (later published as English for Decision-Makers: A Course in Modern Management).
Some benefits to the Institute & my school as well: (1) I was able to work with several professors at the Institute, on the back-&-forth language problems (English-Uzbek) in teaching business; (2) There’s an increasing number of foreign business majors in American universities. I was able to help sensitize business colleagues at my school (Rutgers) to some of the many linguistic challenges faced by foreign students when studying business; (3) Teaching in Tashkent also helped me develop a heightened awareness of those needs as well; and (4) I stayed in touch with several of my Uzbek students, & was able to help place a few of them in American MBA programs.
In addition to the academic benefits to all – the overseas institution and their students, promoting good will, and your home university – you are never quite the same. Living & working in another culture – you never see the world in quite the same way. The experience opens you to things you may never have thought of. You realize how arbitrary your cultural identity is; deeply-embedded, but arbitrary. Apart from my academic research, I’m also a hopeless scribbler, and was able to collect material for an historical novel, set in Samarkand at the time of Tamerlane, & called: The Illuminator, that came out in 2010. Some of the incidents during the tour I was able to use in a travelogue called The Wanderer: Travels & Adventures Beyond the Pale, coming out end of 2018. No space here for examples. The takeaway: The experience can enrich your writing in ways you may never have imagined. And remember: Whatever else you do on your Fulbright, don’t forget to keep a diary.