A year in Egypt and Spain sponsored by the rotary foundation
In 2010, I landed in Alexandria, Egypt and began a year studying Arabic thanks to the Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarship. Keep reading to find out how I earned a $24,000 scholarship and how you can find similar opportunities to go abroad!
How I got the Scholarhsip
In 2009 I made it to the final interview for the 2010-2011 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, twice. After completing a 25 page application and passing the first set of interviews, I set off for Michigan to interview for the chance to study Dance at a University in Costa Rica. While I was beat out by another Lawrence University student, the interviewers told me to apply again through my hometown (I had applied through the city where my college is). I was also told that if I REALLY wanted the scholarship, I needed to make my application more competitive. Studying Spanish and Dance wasn't competitive enough. Studying Arabic was. So, in a few short weeks I rewrote the entire application and applied to study Arabic in Egypt for 6 months. The day after my second final interview, I was awarded the scholarship. I remember reading the e-mail, stunned, in the Lawrence University library. However, the real twist is that a few months later I was informed that my scholarship had changed from a 6 month language study scholarship to a year long Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. I was headed to Alexandria, Egypt.
How to find scholarships to go abroad
I first discovered Rotary and other similar scholarships from flyers posted around my university. In addition, a few different informational presentations were held to offer tips on applying for the scholarships as well as give an idea of what the scholarships would entail. While the presentations were targeted at university students, they were open to the public and in fact, you often don't need a university to sponsor your application.
The most popular and often well funded scholarships and/or opportunities to go abroad are:
- Peace Corps Volunteers
- Fulbright Scholarship
- Rotary Peace Fellowship
- Watson Fellowship
Unfortunately, my scholarship, the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, no longer exists. However, local Rotary clubs still offer to sponsor students' university or graduate studies. Likewise, Rotary offers a Peace Fellowship. You can learn more about this by clicking HERE. Rotary clubs are found all over the world, so try and connect with your local clubs for opportunities to study or volunteer abroad.
For additional links to major scholarships, click HERE.
My advice for anyone interested in seeking one of these scholarships is:
1. Do your research. Try to learn as much as you can about their ideal candidate. If there are any informational meetings offered in your area, go to them.
2. Talk to people who have won the scholarships. Lists are usually published each year for this reason. If you are truly interested in this experience, it is worthwhile to ask about the winners' experiences, their applications and their advice.
3. Get involved in similar volunteering projects before you apply. Showing you have some experience, especially as a volunteer, in areas related to your proposed project will help make your application stand out from the crowd.
My SCholarship year
During my time in Egypt I studied Arabic 4 days a week at Alexandria University, taught dance at a local dance studio called Rezodanse, visited Rotary and Rotaract Clubs and events in Alexandria and Cairo, and participated in volunteering. Everything was going well until the Egyptian Revolution erupted around the country. Rotary and Rotaract members helped get me to the airport safely before I was evacuated to France via Kuwait and Germany. While the experience was shocking and dangerous, I was able to live through and important moment in recent history. I spent the rest of my scholarship year in Granada, Spain where I continued to study Arabic. Not many Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars (if any) have been able to spend their year on two different continents! To learn more about my time in Egypt, click HERE.
I am always happy to answer any questions in the comments below. Best of luck with your scholarship applications!
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