Island Nations on Fulbright: 9 “Hidden Gems” to Explore


With more than 125 participating countries, The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers nearly unlimited possibilities to conduct field research or teach abroad in local higher education institutions for every academic interest. With the 2020-2021 competition application deadline approaching, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program staff have recommended “hidden gem” awards, located in island nations across the world. Vibrant cultures, varied landscapes, and universities tailored to every subject matter make these countries well worth a look:

Taiwan: Arts, Education, Humanities, Professional Fields and Social Sciences (Postdoctoral Scholar Award)
Legend has it that when Portuguese sailors first sighted Taiwan, they exclaimed “Ilha Formosa” or “lovely island.” Whether or not that legend is true, one thing can be verified with certainty: the island boasts considerable natural beauty, which can be taken in at nine national parks that cover approximately ten percent of the entire land area of the country. Taiwan is also home to vibrant metropolitan areas and a robust higher education system. Scholars may pursue a wide range of disciplines, with a preference given to specialization in areas such as: Cross-Strait studies, entrepreneurship, and health care policy. According to Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador Brian Sajko, “the people of Taiwan taught [me and my family] to trust and dive in and love life by being there to catch us when we stumbled.”

Maldives: All Disciplines Award
Did you know that the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting was held here to raise awareness of climate change? The Republic of the Maldives, made up of over 1,100 coral reefs, is located southwest of the Indian subcontinent. Fulbright scholars in the Maldives have the unique opportunity to contribute to a new higher education system. Maldives National University—the host and only public degree-granting institution in the country—was inaugurated in 2011 as part of a restructuring of all government-run post-secondary education. For applicants in the fields of law, economics and environmental studies, this grant would be a wonderful way to advance your career and gain practical experience in this coral-encircled island.

Sri Lanka: All Disciplines Award
Located just off the coast of southern India, Sri Lanka has much to offer Fulbrighters: ancient temples, peaceful beaches, and rich wildlife, among others. Scholars may pursue research and teaching opportunities at universities across the island. Alumna Denae D’Arcy remembers her Fulbright in Sri Lanka fondly, writing, “we have incredible memories of seeing wildlife (elephants, leopards, exotic birds), touring UNESCO World Heritage sites, and sharing those special moments together.”

Madagascar: All Disciplines Award
A biodiversity hotspot, Madagascar is home to more than 10,000 species, 90% of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The island nation was isolated for centuries, allowing unique flora and fauna to develop and flourish, though now many species are endangered. Fulbrighters can teach and conduct research for nine months at the University of Antananarivo, located in Madagascar’s colorful capital city. Generous dependent tuition reimbursement benefits are also available for Fulbrighters who bring along school-aged dependents.

Cyprus: All Disciplines Award
As Greek myth would have it, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, first set foot on Cyprus after being born from the sea. Waves of Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans were similarly drawn to the island, making Cyprus a rewarding place to visit from a historical and archaeological perspective. Sandy white beaches and azure coastal waters only add to the island’s appeal. Scholars at all levels of their career may pursue a range of research opportunities in all disciplines. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program provides opportunities to American and Cypriot scholars to exchange ideas and views, participate in collaborative research activities, and enhance each country's discipline and cultural knowledge. Another perk, according to the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia: Cyprus enjoys sunshine virtually year-round!

Malta: All Disciplines Award
Situated just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, Malta boasts historical complexity and multiculturalism that has been a source of fascination for travelers throughout the ages. Apart from the island’s many private universities and research institutes, the University of Malta has a strong international atmosphere, attracting large numbers of students from across Europe, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.

Ireland: Celtic Studies Award
The “Emerald Isle” boasts a rich linguistic and literary history.  While origins of Ogham script and the Latinate Irish alphabet are still a mystery, these languages are not lost to the ages as tens of thousands still speak Gaeilge.  Celtic Studies scholars are invited to apply to conduct a three to six month research project at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ School of Celtic Studies, dedicated to the study of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh language and literature.

Bahrain: All Disciplines Award
Worried about the adjustment process of moving overseas? Bahrain may be the answer. The island nation was rated the “best place for expats to live” by InterNations’s Expat City Review in 2017 and 2018. Located in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain was the first nation in the region to develop a post-oil economy. Scholars may teach or conduct research, in any discipline.  According to Fulbright alumnus Vedapuri Raghavan, his Fulbright in Bahrain “forever changed [his] perception about the Middle East and enriched [his] teaching and research.”

Haiti: All Disciplines Award

Did you know that Hayti is the Indian name for the country and means "land of the mountains?" Haiti is home to more mountains than any other spot in the Caribbean, as well as miles of breathtaking beaches. The world’s only successful slave rebellion happened here, and the music, art, cuisine, and culture that came with it make Haiti entirely unique. Haiti’s universities, once part of a world-class system of higher education, would greatly benefit from the presence of American scholars in a variety of fields. The areas of necessity include, but are not limited to: environmental studies, agriculture, education, health, accounting and finance, management and administration, economics, tourism, urban planning and marketing.