The Program started after the end of World War II by initiative of the then young senator from the State of Arkansas, J. William Fulbright. Senator Fulbright hoped that the exchange between the people of the United States and from other nations would foster an understanding and tolerance that would eliminate the basis for future conflicts.
The first exchanges took place in 1948 when 35 students and one scholar visited the United States and 65 Americans traveled abroad. Nowadays, almost a quarter million people from all imaginable fields of study, have benefited from a "Fulbright Experience". These individuals have contributed to a small or large extent, directly or indirectly, to the reconciliation of the political tensions after World War II.
Their achievements are testimony of the importance of the dissemination of knowledge and the exchange of ideas in the solution of human problems.
The world has changed a lot in the past 50 years. It has become smaller as jet engines, satellites and computer links have made travelling easier and turned communications almost instant.
Nevertheless, the immersion in another country's culture - living in one of its towns or cities, walking along its streets, shopping in its markets, having coffee and talking to someone who has grown there - cannot be compared to a computer screen..
The exchange of information from one place to another in the world can occur in an instant through cables de optic fiber cables; but the exchange of true understanding about the forces of our times - political, social, economic and cultural - still needs time and the physical presence of two persons with inquisitive minds and open hearts, and the active and dedicated participation of human actors to whom the bottom line are ideas and not only facts.