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Fulbright Scholars teach and learn abroad

By Paul R. Pace, News Staff

Many social workers have been selected to represent the U.S. in the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program, which promotes mutual understanding and goodwill among foreign nations.

The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. government. In operation since 1946, nearly 310,000 people have been awarded the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Jessica Ritter toured Old Town Stockholm, Sweden, during her Fulbright assignment.

For Jessica Ritter, associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Pacifica University in Oregon, the opportunity to be a Fulbright Scholar seemed out of reach at first.

“I applied thinking there was no way I would be accepted since I am a relatively new scholar, but I decided to throw my hat out there anyway,” Ritter said. “I figured the worst that could happen is that I would get turned down and would have to apply again later.”

Instead, she learned her proposal — to gain insight into Sweden’s social welfare system and social work profession and to conduct research — had been accepted.

“It felt very surreal to come to terms with the fact that I would be leaving my job as a professor for one semester and living in Sweden for four months,” she said.

Ritter said she learned there is nothing that can compare to living in a country to gain a better understanding of its culture. She said she was “completely dazzled” by what she discovered.

“The high taxes they are famous for provide their citizens with a level of health and security that would be difficult for most Americans to grasp,” Ritter explained. “The benefits citizens receive include universal health care; free education from pre-school through college; a monthly child allowance until the child turns 16; a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation per year; incredibly generous paid leave after the birth of a child; and generous sick leave policies.”

From the July 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.

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