The Zen of Fulbright:
The Unofficial Guide to Making the Most of Your U.S. Fulbright Scholarship

(Don Davis Publishing, 2014)

Thomas Burns ’98


The Zen of Fulbright is extraordinarily well researched and presents a comprehensive overview of the Fulbright program—an impressive feat in that the Fulbright program is offered with slightly different parameters in each of the 150 countries in which it is active, and is notoriously difficult to describe. The book showcases collections of quotes providing a range of voices, perspectives, and experiences—which sometimes are contradictory, but by disagreeing, demonstrate the range of experiences that the program can encompass.

The first half of the book provides an overview of the program, discussions of what makes successful candidates and applications, and how the application process works.  The book then addresses pre-departure considerations, how to get the most out of the program while on the ground, and how to handle the challenges of returning home. The appendix offers a collection of application essays that prospective applicants can use as models.

Of the many quotes in the book, the one that I plan to post on the wall of my office is attributed to Wayne Gretzky:  “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”  With this, Burns reminds us that you can’t succeed without first taking the risk of trying—a lesson that can be applied both to the initial application itself as well as the daily experience of the program.

—Michelle Johnson, Fellowships Adviser, Center for Life Beyond Reed