By Katelyn McBride
UI alumni like Deanna Fei and Geoffrey Hilsabeck have benefited greatly from their international experiences thanks to the support of Fulbright grants. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives masters and doctoral candidates, recent baccalaureate recipients, and young professionals and artists opportunities for personal development and international experience. Learn more. 
Fei, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnae and Asian American, traveled to China to finish a novel inspired by an earlier vacation she and her family took through their native country. Unexpectedly, Fei had more identity issues in China than she had ever experienced in the U.S., which led to interesting character development in her now-published book, “A Thread of Sky." See a video of Fei here. 
 Hilsabeck, also a Writers’ Workshop alumnus, decided to travel to Portugal after only a year studying the language to explore the “undiscovered” Portuguese poetry. Very little of the poetry has been translated into English, so it was essential for Hilsabeck to travel to Portugal to truly grasp the language and improve his translations. Read a feature story about Hilsabeck here.