The Fulbright Program for scholars, researchers, students, and other professionals is the oldest and most important United States Government sponsored international academic exchange program. Instituted by the junior Senator from Arkansas, J. William Fulbright, in 1946, the program envisions achieving international understanding and respect between nations by exchanging-on a reciprocal basis-students and professors. Senator Fulbright noted the following about the program:
I have thought of everything I can think of, and the one thing that gives me some hope is the ethos that underlies the educational exchange program. That ethos, in sum, is the belief that international relations can be improved, and the danger of war significantly reduced, by producing generations of leaders, who through the experience of educational exchange, will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples' cultures why they operate as they do, why they think as they do, why they react as they do and of the differences among these cultures. It is possible not very probable, but possible that people can find in themselves, through intercultural education, the ways and means of living together in peace.
When the Fulbright Program began, it is significant that the first foreign grantees were from Austria, Germany, and Japan-our former adversaries in a world war that Senator Fulbright hoped would never occur again.
Since 1946 more than 250,000 people have participated in the Program, working overseas as university lecturers, researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, performance artists, secondary-education teachers. Of those 250,000 scholars, fully one-half have come from other countries to study and teach in the United States. Fulbright grantees include current and past heads of state, politicians, university professors, university administrators, and leaders in business and industry throughout the world.
It is no exaggeration to state that the Fulbright Program has changed and continues to change the courses of people's lives and the lives of their nations.