Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PNG/Fulbright Update

Today I received a reply to my inquiries at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. They are considering my proposal (only briefly sketched out at this point) for an "affiliation" for the purpose of my pursuing a Fulbright Fellowship. Although I don't feel particularly confident in my ability to obtain this prestigious grant, I have to admit that I felt the same way when applying to the University of Texas, and again when applying to Texas Tech. In other words, history has taught me not to discount my chances when pursuing things that I am passionate about and that really make sense to me. What am I trying to do here? Well, it's a bit complicated but I shall try to explain.

Some of you may know that I've been pursuing a business opportunity in Papua New Guinea for some 8 months or so now (Herries-ETS). It's been slow going and although I remain confident in our chances, we have not received any indication that we are going to be successful. Nope, I'm not giving up...nothing like that. However, at the same time I am also pursuing my education with a vengeance. Classes at Texas Tech start in just a couple of weeks, I have already read 2 textbooks in preparation for class, and I stumbled across something that sounds incredibly like an opportunity I could take advantage of. It is called a Fulbright Scholarship. Basically, it works like this...

Someone who is pursuing a PhD and would like to include research and/or teaching opportunities in a foreign country picks a country, makes contact with a university there, prepares a proposal for work to be done, and submits it all to the US government. Oh yes, this entire process has to be complete by October 1. The government takes a few months to review all the applications then selects those that will move forward in the process by January 2010. After that, some final work, fine-tuning, clarification and I believe interviews may be involved, then the final Fellowship recipients are announced. The winners pack their bags in August 2010, board a plane, and on the US government's dime, head to the country of their choice for a year of research, teaching, involvement in local activities and more.

Why PNG? Well, the truth is that I have actually come to love what I've found out about the country. I have made acquaintances there, have read everything I can find about it, and am deeply intrigued by what is happening in that country. But more than that, I worry about the potential negative impacts of the recent "boom" in oil and gas prospects occurring in that country. I mean, what wonderful opportunity for the country to grow, develop, and enhance the opportunities of the local workforce. But like my other favorite foreign study, Nigeria, what an opportunity for things to go wrong.

Anyway, for my crazy mixed-up life, for my sense of adventure, for my desire to make a difference in a small way somewhere in the world, and for my new-found love of PNG, I am going to give this my best effort. I REALLY would love to move there for a year, teach at the local college, learn from the experience, and enhance my PhD studies with what I learn. I really want to do this. It's a long road with lots of room for mistep, but I'm going to go for it. I hope you'll follow along and see what happens!

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