The program is designed to meet the holistic needs of student-athletes. This experience will begin with settling into their home for the next 9-months. The first few weeks will consist of settling into their apartment, meeting with the team, registering at school, setting up phone and bank needs, and learning about their city. Depending on the city, there may be a local orientation performed by their new team or other GLF partners.
Language is an important part of the GLF experience and fellows are encouraged to make the most of their language stipend. Since the majority of successful candidates will not have prior knowledge of Chinese language, it is understandable that learning Chinese may be one of the more challenging aspects of their China experience. The level of proficiency gained during the year, however, will directly impact the quality of cultural understanding and professional interaction. GLF staff will work with local supporters of the program to register fellows into mandarin courses.
Football takes up half of the GLF experience and should be a fun experience to engage with the game and its newest students. Fellows should understand that the level of football is far less advanced than the background that they are coming from, and creative coaching methods are encouraged along with the tools provided during orientation. Fellows may encounter challenges in the form of managing different levels of talent, language barriers, inter-team politics, and misunderstanding of what it means to play American football. At times, fellows may even find themselves frustrated with their team’s progress. Host Coaches and GLF program administrators encourage regular communication especially in the beginning months. Fellows will naturally find their training, organization, and interpersonal skills dramatically improving as time goes on.
Any trips outside of China during the year as a GLF Fellow will require prior concurrence of the Gridiron Football Foundation. Due to the desire to encourage a full immersive experience, return trips to the United States during the Program are strongly discouraged except in cases of emergency, undue hardship, or other special circumstances, and upon GLF’s approval.