Sarah Shapley reflects on Fulbright experience

The Fulbright Program, developed by Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946, provides opportunities for educators, students and professionals to explore relationships between the United States and other countries and foster international communication. Several types of Fulbright Programs have since been established, including the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Sarah Shapley, ’20, an international studies major and gender and sexuality studies minor, was awarded a 2018 Fulbright UK Summer Institute scholarship after applying in November 2017. Shapley spent three weeks in Wales over the summer studying identity and nationhood.

Sarah Shapley
Sarah Shapley, ’20, stands atop one of the towers of Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales, on July 5, 2018.

The Campus: What did you primarily do in the United Kingdom?

Sarah Shapley: I was in Wales for my program at Aberystwyth University. Basically, what we did, we had classes in the morning Monday through Friday for about three hours, and then the rest of the day they would have scheduled programs for us to go out through Wales and visit places of cultural significance. There were a lot of really cool places.

Campus: Of the sites you visited, do you have any favorites?

Shapley: We went to three different castles, and they were all distinctly different. We went to one that was an English castle. When we went, our tour guide said, “It was an English castle, but it’s a Welsh castle now, and it’s ours.” We learned a lot about the relationship between England and Wales and the history of oppression Welsh people have faced. (The English castle) was like the physical manifestation of that. We also went to an organic farm in Wales, and the people we met at all of those places were very interested in telling their stories, so that was really cool.

Campus: Has your experience shaped your understanding of your Allegheny studies in any way?

Shapley: Mostly, it gave me an idea of how to study another country and gave me a better understanding of nationhood and identity in the U.S. and how that identity comes about in other countries.

Campus: What advice would you give to other students interested in applying for Fulbright programs?

I think it’s really exciting and interesting, and I can definitely see myself going back.

— Sarah Shapley

Shapley: I know that all of the people that were there in my cohort talked about pressing and current events when they applied. Don’t be afraid of talking about things that you’re passionate about and having an opinion when you are going through the application process.

Campus: Would you like to visit Wales again?

Shapley: Oh yes, Wales will definitely be a place I go back to. I didn’t know a lot about Wales before I went, and they’re in the middle of some really interesting things going on there in terms of national identity, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. I think it’s really exciting and interesting, and I can definitely see myself going back.