Dr. Peter Westort is packing up his life and classroom for the 2011-12 academic year and heading to Egypt.
There, the UW Oshkosh College of Business professor will teach accounting after being accepted into the Fulbright Program.
Earlier this month – about a year after he started the long and detailed application process – Westort got the piece of information he was waiting for: A letter from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board letting him know he was on the right track to teach abroad.
“On behalf of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, I am pleased to congratulate you on your selection for a Fulbright award to Egypt…Your selection for a Fulbirght award is, in itself, an achievement for which you can be justly proud,” read the letter from the chairperson of the selection board.
Proud and excited, he is.
Westort thinks the experience will not only allow him to bring great skills to the students in Egypt, but also back to his students at UW Oshkosh. He will be teaching accounting at Alexandria University, about three hours away from Cairo, Egypt, he said.
“It’s an opportunity to take an American standards background and teach in an international environment,” he said. “I hope to bring back an understanding of the converging standards and a feel for financial communication in a different country.”
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and was established in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals interested in undertaking international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide, according to its website.
“Developing international understanding requires a commitment on the part of Fulbright grantees to establish open communication and long-term cooperative relationships,” the letter continued. “In that way, Fulbrighters enrich the educational, political, economic, social and cultural lives of countries around the world.”
When Westort became interested in the grant, he was interested in working in an English-speaking country, which is why Egypt was appealing, he said.
“It’s a fascinating time to live in Egypt. I’m pretty excited to go,” said Westort, who will be relocating to the country with his wife. “I think this will enable me to bring back a lot to the students here at UW Oshkosh.”
Westort said he doesn’t have an exact date of departure yet, but he assumes it will be sometime in August. Westort said he’ll spend some time this summer brushing up on his international reporting standards as they relate to accounting.
Since the program’s inception more than 60 years ago, approximately 300,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the program.
“I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to live someplace interesting for a year,” Westort said. “Besides accounting, I hope to gain a broader understanding of the business community in a different part of the world.”