By Cathryn Sloane
Photo by Haoran Wang
The Daily Iowan
Scott King, director of ISSS, helps incoming graduate students during the Fulbright orientation on Monday.
Bellah Zulu’s life-long dream of studying in the U.S. led him from his home in Zambia to the University of Iowa campus this week.
“I’ve been waiting for a very long time for this,” said the 28-year-old, who was awarded a Fulbright award to study abroad.
The Fulbright program, which grants around 1,800 scholarships to students outside the United States each year, selected the University of Iowa as one of eight universities in the nation to host a five-day orientation for Fulbright students. This is the UI’s second year in the program.
Forty students from 29 different countries came to the UI for orientation, said Timothy Barker, a UI international student and scholar adviser who coordinated this week’s program. The students arrived on early Monday afternoon; they will be here until Friday. After Friday, the students will travel to their respective U.S. universities.
“Many of these students are going to go on to become leaders in their own countries,” Barker said. “It’s quite an intense time.”
The program will include cultural workshops, leadership sessions, and student panels led by UI graduate students who will speak about what they wish they had known when they began grad school.
“The purpose is to provide them with the academic skills they will need to adjust to graduate life and graduate studies in the U.S.,” Barker said.
Scott King, the head of the International Student & Scholar Services, who oversees the orientation, said he is honored to host the diverse group of talented students.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that they choose eight schools to do this nationwide and we’re one of them,” he said. “It affirms a lot of what we do with our own international students here, and it has really raised the awareness of the UI among the general Fulbright community by hosting it.”
Alexandra Hay, a 23-year-old from New Zealand, said she is a bit nervous about living in a new country and is very thankful for the orientation.
“I’m looking forward to just getting an overview of what studying in America might be like,” she said.
Zulu said he is just as excited to meet new people and make new friends as he is to soak up all the experiences of being a Fulbright student.
“I’m able to meet other people from other countries, share our experiences, learn about other cultures,” he said.
Sumit Anand, a structural engineering major from New Zealand, had good things to say about Iowa City shortly after arriving.
“I’ve just had the best half an hour impression of it,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll find out a little bit more over time.”
As for Zulu, landing an opportunity he has aspired to for so long is only the beginning of his journey.
After he finishes studying in Los Angeles, he said, “it’s best for me to get back home and really contribute.”