Applications for Student Fulbright Grants Open March 30

UAlbany alum Libra Dolce
Libra Dolce, Class of 2020, was a Rangel Scholar several years ago.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 16, 2021) — It was 3 a.m. in Taiwan in February and recent UAlbany alumna Libra Dolce woke for a Zoom call, and to discuss her experience as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) there.

Dolce was featured in Today at UAlbany in October 2019 after her experience as a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Scholar. She was informed of her status as a Fulbright grantee last year, but her participation seemed increasingly unlikely as the pandemic spread throughout the world.

After months of uncertainty, many medical exams and several COVID tests, Dolce found herself on a 16-hour flight to Taiwan on Dec. 31. She was one of the last people allowed into Taiwan as both the U.S. and Taiwan increased coronavirus travel restrictions.

The moment she landed, Dolce, alongside about a hundred fellow English Teaching Assistants (ETAs), spent two weeks in a strict quarantine with an additional five days of self-management.

Dolce was assigned to Kinmen, a smaller island off the coast of Taiwan, with about 20 fellow ETAs. Kinmen has a culture and identity that are distinct from Taiwan, with the residents often referring to themselves as “Kinmenese.”

A Globalization and East Asian Studies major who graduated in spring 2020, Dolce chose Taiwan because she wanted to learn about the country’s rich history and culture. She came to Taiwan with several years of college Japanese and French but little Mandarin.

“Finally having the opportunity to connect with aspects of my culture, language and heritage has been incredible. The food and cheap bubble tea are amazing too,” said Dolce, who was born in China and raised in the U.S.

She teaches about 16 classes a week with 15-20 students in each class and works collaboratively with three Taiwanese English teachers. Her grant period ends June 30, and she hopes to teach in Taiwan for another year.

Due to familial and financial issues, Dolce wasn’t able to study abroad during her time at UAlbany, but she was still determined to gain international experience. She wants current students to keep pursuing their goals despite obstacles that may be in their way.

Applications for the next round of Fulbright grants for students open on March 30, Assistant Director for Global Academic Programs, Jacqueline Quevedo Ledermann, Center for International Education and Global Strategy, said. For more information on applying or about the program, contact Ledermann.

Dolce pursued cultural exchange and diversity throughout her academic career, and engaged in many extracurricular activities and internships.

“Once I learned about the Fulbright grant as a UAlbany freshman, I knew it was the path for me. Coming from a low-income family, I couldn’t take a direct path – like studying abroad – toward pursuing my passion of international relations. But through perseverance and hard work, I’m on the path to accomplishing my aspirations on my terms,” she said.

Dolce added, “I am incredibly fortunate to have had many wonderful teachers in the Globalization and East Asian Studies departments, as well as opportunities such as the Rangel Program and Women’s Congressional Policy Institute.”

She is honored to be a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan because it is an experience she can use throughout her career in international relations. She said she is especially grateful to UAlbany, its staff and the students for helping her grow and succeed.

After the Fulbright, her next step will be to apply to the Rangel Fellowship and the Pickering Fellowship to pursue a master’s degree.

What would she tell other UAlbany students who would like to apply to the Fulbright program?

“I would tell them to be true to themselves and when they apply, to know what they want from the grant,” she said, adding it is a rigorous application process.

“You will be considered a cultural ambassador for America – intention matters and it’s very easy to spot those who are applying solely as a resume builder. It is important to know what your goals are, what you hope to accomplish on a personal and professional level, as well as what you can give to your potential community before you start your application.”