• John Gratto

February 2, 2022-Arrival in Croatia and a short history of the Fulbright Program:

Updated: Feb 20

Welcome to Croatia! My wife, Joanne, and I arrived in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia at 12:35 from a connecting flight in Zurich, Switzerland and an overnight flight from Newark, NJ. The journey really began in 2019, though.

First, let me give you some background: The U.S. Fulbright program was initiated shortly after World War II. Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas reasoned that if the people of the world understood each other and their cultures, then countries would not be at war with each other. Congress agreed and has been funding the Fulbright Program since 1946. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. A very interesting article about the origins of the Fulbright Program can be found here.

Here is more info about what the Fulbright Grant or Scholarship actually is. This citation from Wikipedia explains it well, as does this short article from the University of Maryland Baltimore County about the Fulbright Scholarship.

It was in September of 2019 that I applied to be a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to the University of Zadar in Croatia. The application process was comprehensive. I had to submit an application to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the Presidentially-appointed body that has statutory authority over Fulbright programs. The application consisted of submitting three letters of reference, a resume, syllabi from three courses that I previously taught, a project statement-describing why I wanted a Fulbright award and what I hoped to accomplish at the University, and a letter of invitation from the host university. All of those requirements were completed by the application deadline in September of 2019.

In April of 2020 I received official notification from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board that I had been selected for a Fulbright award to Croatia effective with the spring 2021 semester. BUT Covid-19 shut down the world in March of 2021, delaying my award to the fall 2021 semester. However, in the fall of 2021, Covid-19 was still rampant throughout much of the world and once again delayed my travel.

In the spring of 2022, Covid was under control enough to allow travel to Croatia and that’s why I am in Croatia today. So, instead of being a professor at Virginia Tech this semester, I will be a professor at the University of Zadar. We are greeting the adventure with both apprehension and anticipation. Let the adventure begin!

This is the plane we took from Zurich, Switzerland to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia