The COVID-19 epidemic has greatly affected the higher education community, including international exchanges. The Fulbright Program is no exception. For a long time we have kept alive the hope of welcoming the U.S. grantees in the academic year 2020-21, be it with delay. We were excited to host another cohort of U.S. Scholars, Student Researchers and English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) in Poland. Unfortunately, the evolution of the epidemic in the past weeks and the forecasts have forced us to review our plans.
As per the guidance of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State (ECA), Fulbright Commissions all over the world and the local U.S. Embassies have been faced with a difficult decision of whether to resume the Fulbright Program for U.S. participants to their country in the 2020-21 academic year. Given the deteriorating epidemiological situation in Poland, the Board of the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission has decided to offer deferrals of all 2020-21 U.S. grants to the subsequent academic year of 2021-22. This decision has been based on the guidelines provided by ECA, the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy, and first and foremost, with the health and safety of the participants in mind. We sincerely hope that this course of action will allow the U.S. Fulbright grantees to Poland to pursue their projects in the 2021-22 academic year to the full extent of the planned scope.
Currently, we are hosting one Fulbright grantee – Julia Dickenson, who returned to Poland to realize her renewal grant as an ETA. ETAs on renewal grants are one of the very few exceptions allowed to pursue their programs throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Julia flew into Poland at the end of September, when the epidemiological prospects were relatively more favorable, and her host institution operated in a hybrid mode. We are thrilled for her – one could say symbolic – presence in Poland, and we have looked after her well-being and health. We truly hope that the circumstances will allow her to stay in Poland and successfully proceed with her grant engagements until June 2021.