Think: International February 2023

Fulbright Seal


The Fulbright Scholar Program was established by Congress in 1946 to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021, the Fulbright Scholar Program currently awards 1,700 fellowships each year, enabling 800 U.S. Scholars to go abroad and 900 Visiting Scholars to come to the United States. 

CWRU has a long-standing relationship with the Fulbright Program.  To date, CWRU has sent 131 Fulbright Scholars to 51 different countries including its first two scholars in 1952, who traveled to India and the U.K. to do work in the fields of history and pharmacology.  In addition to sending scholars abroad, CWRU has also served as a host for 117 visiting scholars from 45 different countries.  The institution welcomed its first international faculty in 1966 with seven scholars from the following seven countries: Serbia, Albania, Hungary, Egypt, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.  

CWRU currently has one Fulbright Scholar abroad, Rakesh Niraj from the Weatherhead School of Management, who is in Mauritius, and CWRU just finished hosting a short-term Fulbright visitor from Brazil, Laura Maria Rafael, who came to learn about entrepreneurship with Michael Goldberg in the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship, himself a four-time Fulbright Scholar.

“When you see a possible opportunity show up, take it. You never know what might happen,” said Deborah Lindell (NUR ’03), another recent CWRU Fulbright Scholar from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing who spent eight-months in Northwest Kenya during the 2021 – 2022 academic year.  This advice from Deborah Lindell makes good sense currently as February is an important month for the Fulbright Program.  The application portal for many of its programs opens this month and academics and professionals have until the application deadline of September 15, 2023, to submit their project ideas aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the United States and over 160 partner countries. 

If you would like to learn more about CWRU’s involvement with the Fulbright Program or if you are interested in a Fulbright opportunity, please reach out to Dr. Chris Sippel, Director of Faculty International Education (  Of note, the Center for International Affairs as part of its Global Talk Series will be offering a Fulbright Program Overview on Tuesday, February 21 from 9:30 am – 10:30 am in Tomlinson 135. Register for the Global Talk Series here. 


Study Abroad
Valerie Rambin, Assistant Director of Education Abroad

After spending nearly six years at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Science overseeing a portfolio of study abroad social work courses, Valerie Rambin has returned to Case Western Reserve University to serve in a new role with the Education Abroad Office that will focus on developing and managing faculty-led, short-term study abroad programs across the University. 

In an effort to increase the number of CWRU faculty teaching and students studying abroad on faculty-led programs, Valerie hopes to offer support and guidance to both groups as they navigate the less glamorous administrative processes that are a necessary part of preparing to study abroad. Utilizing her previous experience supporting faculty and student learning abroad, Valerie is excited to help expand course offerings, streamline processes, and remove the barriers that can prevent both students and faculty from going abroad. 

Valerie's own international journey began with a summer abroad as a high school exchange student and then a year abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Puget Sound. After graduating, Valerie spent five years teaching English in Niigata and Tokyo prior to starting graduate school in the Cleveland-area. In addition to her time at the Mandel School, Valerie also served as the Assistant Director of the Japan Study Program where she supported faculty and students engaged in semester and year-long faculty-led study abroad programs. 

Faculty interested in learning more about developing or relaunching a short-term study abroad course for winter break, spring break, or the summer should reach out to Valerie. 


Meet Diala Izhiman
Photo of Diala Izhiman

Diala Izhiman is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Communication Sciences and Psychology. She is also an international student from Palestine who chose to study abroad this winter break on the faculty-led course “Multicultural Spain—Christian, Jewish and Muslim Coexistence” led by professors Damaris Puñales–Alpízar and Ramez Islambouli. We connected with Diala to ask about her experience as an international student studying abroad.  

How is studying abroad as an international student different from studying at CWRU as an international student?  

Studying abroad outside the US is definitely an easier transition than the first leap one takes when deciding to attend a university in the US as an international student. Not only did I feel like I was familiar with the expectations of studying in a foreign country, but the university offered a lot of guidance about possible obstacles we might run into and how to best act in any situation. That put me at ease and allowed me to better enjoy my experience knowing I was fully equipped to deal with any scenario. 

How were the academics of the course enhanced through being abroad?  

Studying abroad added a realistic layer to what was discussed in class. Being able to explore and experience multicultural Spain extends to lengths you cannot get to in a classroom setting. It is the interactions with the people, observing them in their daily routines, experiencing their art and literature, and conversing with them that truly solidifies anything you wish to know about a culture.  

The world is ever-growing, and our eagerness to learn and accept others from different walks of life needs to meet that pace. 

Why did you decide to study abroad - what were your main reasons or goals for doing so?   

I have come to understand that my experience of this world is far too small and limited, and I wanted to challenge that. It was the realization that my comfort zone will forever be the limitation of my growth as an individual that prompted me to learn how individuals from other cultures learn, reflect, communicate, express, et. al. Being an international student, I see my differences highlighted every day. Just as much as I want to be seen, I grew to open my eyes to what the world has to show me from its diversity, as well. 

How has your understanding of the world and your global citizenship been enhanced by studying abroad? 

Before my departure to Spain, I had no expectation of what the country or the culture was like. I explored a whole new territory on the diversity spectrum that is far too different from both my mother culture and the US.  While abroad, I understood that I was an ambassador of my own culture and was able to reflect on what image I portray as an international student. Delving into a country’s culture and history this deep allows you to develop a sense of empathy and connection to the people. Seeing how a civilization was formed shows you how similar we are at core and celebrates the differences and uniqueness that came about as time passed.