New Mexico State University education major Sara Bonk is currently in the middle of her J. William Fulbright grant in Spain. One of two NMSU finalists, Bonk was ultimately granted the award with the help of the NMSU Honors College.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Bonk is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
Bonk had previously volunteered as an English teacher twice before while studying abroad in Spain. Before heading off there again, Bonk was in Poland where she was teaching English and learning Polish for seven months.
“I adjusted quickly after arriving in Spain from Poland and was able to get to meet my teachers, see my schools and see the village I will be working in,” Bonk said. “I work in a small village named Grado, but I live in the regional capital of Oviedo, which is 30 minutes away by bus. But I’ve loved working in my two high schools and the students are so friendly. My fellow teachers are incredible and I love them to death.”
This time around Bonk’s goal is to get to know what rural life is like in Spain since her previous times there were spent in big cities like Barcelona and Sevilla. She encourages students at NMSU, especially education majors who are interested in doing something similar to what she is doing, to get in contact with the Honors College and seek all the help they can.
“My suggestion for those who are interested in applying for a Fulbright fellowship is to find the country or area you are interested in and look at your options. Also, attending a Fulbright meeting that the Honors College hosts are helpful because you talk with successful applicants and the advisers,” Bonk said. “I also highly encourage fellow College of Education majors to apply. Many countries are looking for education majors.”
The Honors College will be holding the next information session on the Fulbright fellowship from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Conroy Honors Center commons area. Students will have a chance to speak with past Fulbright winners and national selection panelists.