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EDUCATION REPORT - Fulbright Exchange Program Turns 60

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week is the sixtieth anniversary of the Fulbright Program of international educational exchanges. On August first, nineteen forty-six, President Harry Truman signed legislation to create the program.

Fulbright grants are given to graduate students, to scholars and professionals, and to teachers and administrators. Today about six thousand people each year receive grants. People come to the United States to study or teach, while Americans go to other countries.

The Fulbright program operates in about one hundred fifty countries. Around two hundred seventy-five thousand people have taken part over the years. Some have gone on to become Nobel Prize winners and leaders in areas like business, technology and politics.

Those who take part in the program are called Fulbright scholars or "Fulbrighters." They receive money for travel, education and living costs. The program is paid for by the United States government and by foreign governments and private groups.

Thomas Farrell is a deputy assistant secretary in the State Department which supervises the program. He says that right now the number of American students who want to spend a year as a Fulbright scholar is at the highest point ever. And, he says, so is the number of Fulbright scholarships they are being awarded. The number is close to one thousand two hundred a year.

William Fulbright
William Fulbright

In nineteen forty-six of Arkansas proposed the legislation to create the program. At that time, just after World War Two, he saw the idea as a way to improve world understanding.

Senator Fulbright thought exchanges would help people better understand other ways of life as well as their own. He believed the program could educate future world leaders.

You can learn more about the program online from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department. We have a link to the Web site at www.unsv.com, where you can also download archives of our reports and listen online.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. A program note -- in September we will begin our Foreign Student Series. This is information about how to attend school in the United States. So please send us your questions. Write to special@voanews.com. We cannot answer mail personally, but we might answer your question during our series. I'm Steve Ember.

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