The Fulbright program organized a series of informational webinars in June, and Professor Vanessa Ruget of Salem State's politics, policy and international relations department was invited by the organizers to speak in one of the panels.
Her panel discussion, “Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program: Understanding the Flex,” explored the Fulbright Flex Award, which funds multiple, short research trips that must be completed over a period of two to three years. Professor Ruget says this flexible award allows recipients to develop a research project that can be implemented over time, to explore new hypotheses as they emerge, and to establish long-term partnerships. A Flex Award also enables scholars with a full-time position and family commitments to pursue research abroad.
Professor Ruget herself applied to a Flex Award for Kyrgyzstan after participating in a Salem State Fulbright support group during the summer of 2015. The grant enabled her to undertake a new research project by conducting qualitative field work in Kyrgyzstan, in collaboration with a long-time colleague, Burul Usmanalieva.
Professor Ruget completed two segments of the grant: one in spring 2017 and the second in summer 2018. The research resulted in a publication in Central Asian Survey, titled, “Mobile Phones and Technology Use by Migrants. The Case of Kyrgyz Migrants in Russia.” Professor Ruget has a second manuscript in the final revision stage with another journal. Professor Ruget’s collaboration with Burul also resulted in a COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning experience) project that was implemented in spring 2021.
While in Kyrgyzstan, Professor Ruget was affiliated with the American University - Central Asia, giving her access to their resources and the ability to network with other scholars. Professor Ruget delivered guest lectures, participated in senior students’ thesis defense, and attended—and presented at—international conferences. She says the Fulbright award is worth considering given its flexibility and says that, though it is not offered for all countries, it is a great option when available.
The application for the Fulbright Flex Award often requires an invitation letter and a language requirement. All criteria can be checked online by visiting the catalog of awards.
Congratulations, Professor Ruget!
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