U.S. Department of State

Tag: U.S. Department of State

Douangvilay, Finzel, Salvia heading to South Korea, Greenland, Germany as Fulbright Fellows

Having already completed all of her necessary credits to graduate, Nalee Douangvilay spent spring term working with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. While driving back to campus in early June for commencement exercises, thoughts turned to what she would do with her life. That’s when a special email arrived on her phone.

Nalee Douangvilay
Nalee Douangvilay ’18

The message informed Douangvilay she had been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, getting promoted from alternate status to recipient.

“It was really unexpected, very exciting, very weird, but good kind of timing,” said Douangvilay, who graduated with honors in June with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Douangvilay, along with fellow 2018 graduate Augusta Finzel and 2017 Lawrence graduate Emilio Salvia, are the three latest recipients of Fulbright awards. They join William Gill and Elena Hudacek who were awarded Fulbright grants earlier this year. The five Fulbright winners matches 2014 for the most in a single year in Lawrence history.

Beginning later this summer, Douangvilay, Salvia and Finzel will spend the following 10 months abroad as English language teaching assistants and cultural ambassadors, courtesy of the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Douangvilay’s Fulbright will take her to South Korea. Leaving in July, she will spend six weeks in orientation before beginning her teaching assignment.

“Korea is one of those places that really has a lot of duality to it,” said Douangvilay, whose only previous time abroad was in the fall of 2016 at Lawrence’s London Center. “It’s very modern in some ways. At the same time, there is a lot of really traditional aspects to Korea that are still practiced. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like to be in that kind of world.”

After some independent study — which included watching Korean reality shows online — Douangvilay thinks she’ll arrive with just enough Korean language skills “to sort of get by.”

“It’s going to be challenging living in a country where I’m not fluent in the language,” said Douangvilay, who will live with a host family. “When I was in London, that was a safety net because I could communicate with everyone. This will be a really great learning experience and even if it’s hard, I think it’s good to challenge yourself in that way.”

A cultural outreach aspect is part of the Fulbright grant, and Douangvilay, who was very active in the theatre department at Lawrence, is looking forward to continuing those interests in Korea.

“I would really like to be involved in theatre in some way while I’m there,” said Douangvilay, who was working in costume construction at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. “I know a lot of schools have theatre programs and would definitely like to be a part of that.”

Associate Professor of English Karen Hoffmann and Douangvilay’s academic advisor, hailed her as “an exceptionally creative and intellectually curious individual.”

“Given the breadth of her interests and talents, ranging from physics, current events,and literary studies to costume design and playwrighting, Nalee stands out as an ideal student of the liberal arts,” said Hoffmann. “With her commitment to international collaboration, she will make a superb Fulbright Scholar.”

Augusta Finzel
Augusta Finzel ’18

Like Douangvilay, Finzel was originally named a Fulbright alternate. Her initial country of choice, Russia, was put on hold, but when her application was considered for Greenland, she was approved.

“I was shocked, honestly,” said Finzel, who graduated with honors in June with majors in biology and Russian studies. “It felt like they were just stringing me along for a really long time as an alternate. Then they told me they sent my application to Greenland. I thought, well that’d be cool, but I wasn’t expecting anything. It was such a fast turn-around that I barely got to process what being in Greenland would be like before I heard news I was going there.”

Although Greenland was not her first choice, Finzel is still thrilled to be heading somewhere central to one of her primary interests – climate change. She has been assigned to the capital city of Nuuk.

“I’m really excited. Greenland has never really been on my radar,” said Finzel. “I’m interested in melting permafrost in the Arctic and other climate change problems. Greenland works really well with those interests because so much of it is inside the Arctic Circle. It’s right at the heart of many of these problems.

“I’m looking forward to seeing something very different from what I’m used to,” she added. “I think I’ll learn a lot and gain a lot of insight into a culture I’ve never really thought about before. I’ve always liked learning different languages and I have no issue with the idea of learning either Danish or Greenlandic just for fun. I think that would be really interesting.”

Finzel also hopes to explore the connection between climate change and its effects on the local population.

“I’m hoping I can interact with the community, maybe join one of their environmental groups. I’ll want to figure out a way to interact.”

One of Finzel’s academic advisors, Professor of Biology Bart De Stasio, said her Fulbright grant will provide a unique and valuable experience for her.

“Augusta has a deep interest in examining how climate change might affect ecosystems in northern locations and her time in Greenland will allow her to see first-hand how conditions are changing,” said De Stasio. “She also has a love of studying language and culture, as evidenced by her double majors in biology and Russian Studies. She is an excellent observer and has keen listening skills, both of which will allow her to excel as she assists English language learners during her Fulbright Fellowship.”

Emilio Salvia
Emilio Salvia ’17

Salvia, the 2017 Lawrence graduate, will be heading to Harsewinkel, Germany, a town of 25,000 in the northwest part of the country, where he will teach at a ‘gesamtschule” — a comprehensive school.

A 2015 study abroad program in Germany he participated persuaded Salvia to pursue the Fulbright grant originally.

“I knew of the Fulbright program, but it was my experience in Berlin that truly motivated me to apply for the fellowship,” said Salvia, who graduated last year with a major in both German and biology. “I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about and connect with German culture firsthand and was very interested in Germany’s dynamic role in both European and global politics. Given my interest in international affairs and German culture, I knew that Fulbright was a good fit.”

A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Salvia has career aspirations of working in public service or higher education and sees the Fulbright as a springboard toward those goals.

“I’m confident my Fulbright experience will enhance my worldview and will provide both unique challenges and opportunities while allowing me to explore my interests,” said Salvia, who leaves for Harsewinkel in early September. “During my stay in Germany, I hope to continue my studies at a university, conduct research and gain insights into another culture’s work environment. My Fulbright year will help prime me for a career in government, international affairs or academia, all of which are major interests of mine.”

As a Lawrence student, Salvia worked as a tutor with exchange students from Japan and served on several university committees with faculty. He sees the Fulbright as an extension of those experiences.

“The opportunity to work on the various committees offered me unique insights into how teachers make decisions that best suit students, insights I hope to apply in Germany.”

As for his cultural outreach, Salvia hopes to pursue his interests in environmental education, sustainable agriculture or volunteer with refugees.

Professor of German Brent Peterson, one of Salvia’s advisors, called him “both an exceptional and typical multi-interested Lawrence student.”

“Emilio’s story is the kind that could never be planned, but his is exactly the growth experience that only a liberal arts education can provide,” said Peterson. “German was his third major, but he revealed himself to be a careful reader and insightful interpreter of German texts. He wrote an excellent paper that provided a significant insight on the topic of integration by looking at the issue of shame in migrant narratives. It’s not what we normally expect from STEM majors, but Emilio is both an exceptional biology student and multi-interested, with a real gift in German. There is no telling where the Fulbright year in Germany might lead him, but I am certain it will be a life experience that could open up undreamed of possibilities in the sciences or in something else entirely.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan summer destinations for three students awarded U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarships

Strengthening their foreign language skills will be on the top of three Lawrence University students’ to-do lists this summer thanks to the U.S. Department of State.

Senior Mikaela, Stillwater, Minn., and juniors Jonathan Rubin, Marblehead, Mass., and Heidi Arnold, Oswego, Ill., each have been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program.

Marget and Rubin both will travel to Malang, Indonesia on the island of Java for eight weeks of language instruction in Bahasa Indonesian and structured cultural enrichment experiences. Arnold will spend most of her summer living with a host family in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a Russian language program.

Launched in 2006 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the CLS program is designed to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

Marget, Rubin and Arnold were among 580 CLS recipients for 2018 selected from 6,000 applicants nationally. Since 2010, seven Lawrence students have received Critical Language Scholarships.

Mikeala Marget
Mikeala Marget ’18

For Marget, a cello performance major, the CLS will provide a return trip to Indonesia. A member of Lawrence’s gamelan ensemble — Gamelan Cahaya Asri — she spent two weeks in Bali learning the Balinese rebab, a string instrument somewhat similar to the cello.

“I did a whole project on that instrument, the social context within Bali and how the instrument functions within the musical ensemble. That really inspired me to learn the Indonesian language and come back,” said Marget, who described her CLS selection as “utter surprise.”

While she picked up pieces of Balinese during her first visit, Bahasa Indonesian is the country’s national language, which is what she will be studying this summer.

“It will be helpful to have been there before and knowing at least Balinese culture a bit,” said Marget. “I haven’t had much time to really get dig into Bahasa Indonesian yet, so I’m really excited to get there and learn.”

Marget, who will graduate June 10, hopes to eventually pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology.

“Having a basis in a language I’ve been studying would be really helpful, not only for grad school applications, but also for personal development so that I can communicate better with the people I will be working with musically. I’ve done a lot with the Indonesian music and   having the language skills to be able to further study Indonesian music would be amazing. I’m really excited to be able to make more connections with people across the world.”

Sonja Downing, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Lawrence, who has worked closely with her, said she was “thrilled” Marget will be able to continue studying the Indonesian language,

“Mikeala’s important study on the under-researched Balinese rebab this past year for her Senior Experience and honors project, including ethnographic research and taking lessons during a to Bali, along with her experiences playing in the Balinese gamelan ensemble has sparked her interest in Balinese music and musical instruments, as well as in the field of ethnomusicology,” said Downing. “I expect this CLS opportunity to deepen her scholarly and musical questions and engagement with Indonesian performing arts and culture.”

Jonathan Rubin
Jonathan Rubin ’19

Rubin, a religious studies major, will join Marget in Malang on the same program. His focus on learning Bahasa Indonesian is to enhance his interests in studying how religion and globalization have shaped the country.

“I’m interested in how theological belief systems and moral paradigms are derived from religious texts, and how they’ve changed and developed over time,” said Rubin, who spent last fall studying abroad in Pune, India. “Indonesia is a perfect place to study this. It’s the world’s largest Muslim majority country, but the first Muslim there was Chinese. Beyond Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Animism and Hinduism all have established some roots there. That’s a lot of ideas coming into one place.”

While Marget had some prior exposure to the language, Rubin has been preparing for his summer in Java by self-teaching himself Bahasa Indonesian with the help of online programs.

“It’s just a beginner program because so few people outside the country speak Indonesian,” said Rubin, who began his language study just a few months ago. “When I took I took my OPI (oral proficiency interview) over the phone, I did well enough that the woman said she was surprised I had only taught myself.”

Rubin’s long-range goals are to earn a doctorate in theology and globalization and he sees being able to read Indonesian as huge advantage.

“Indonesia is one of these areas where I’m studying this specific sociological function of theology. I’m interested in the way the whole idea of religion and the way we apply theology, which is one of the largest existing literarily canon of all time, and how we apply that today, has changed because of globalization and how interconnected the world has become. I hope I can write about the language and globalization as really a history of applied theology someday.”

Martyn Smith, associate professor of religious studies, praised Rubin as “one of the most ambitious students” he has seen in his 12 years on the Lawrence faculty.

“He has taken advantage of many opportunities to travel and learn by seeing the world,” said Smith, citing trips to Dearborn, Mich., to see immigrant communities, visit mosques and speak with religious leaders, Morocco and Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and his study-abroad term in India. “The courses he has taken in religious studies and other disciplines have all tended toward expanding his view of the world and global challenges. The CLS grant will allow him to continue what he has been doing: to get a global perspective on the challenges that now face us.”

Heidi Arnold
Heidi Arnold ’19

Arnold, a German and Russian major, also will be heading to Asia, but considerably farther north. She will spend eight weeks in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, a city of nearly one million near the border of Kazakhstan.

Her choice of majors may have been influenced by her upbringing: she grew up with a German father and a Russian mother, who graduated from Lawrence herself.

“They were always speaking other languages when they didn’t want me to know what was going on,” said Arnold of her life at home. “It sparked my interest. Now I love the language (Russian) and the culture. I want to get better at it so I can read books, understand the movies fully and speak fluently.”

Arnold’s scholarship is evidence of persistence. She applied for a CLS as a sophomore but went unrewarded. She applied again and this time was among the 2018 recipients.

“It’s so important when you study a foreign language to get practical experience with native speakers,” Arnold said of her retry.

While she still has one more year at Lawrence ahead of her, Arnold is contemplating career paths.

“I’ve considered becoming an immigration lawyer in some capacity or maybe working with international law in some way,” said Arnold. “I would like to have a few years of practical experience, maybe working for the State Department or another government agency. Or an NGO, that would also work.”

Peter John Thomas, one of Arnold’s Russian professors, says she has “an ear for new lexicon and usage.”

“For as long as I have known her, Heidi has planned to use her skills in Russian, Ukrainian, and German to research the cultural milieu of ‘Russia Abroad,’ especially the diaspora community in Germany following the Russian Revolution,” said Thomas, associate professor of Russian studies. “This program offers her an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge she needs to pursue her research.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Meghan Murphy awarded critical language scholarship to study in Taiwan

Don’t blame Meghan Murphy if she isn’t 100 percent focused during the upcoming Spring Term final exams.

Meghan Murphy ’18

The Lawrence University sophomore will have good reason for a little mind wandering. She needs to be in Tainan, Taiwan by June 8 — the final day of exams — as a recipient of a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Chinese.

Murphy, a double degree candidate pursuing majors in religious studies and violin performance, will spend eight weeks living with a host family in Tianan, a city of nearly two million on the the island’s southwest coast during the program.

The CLS program includes four hours a day of personalized, intensive language study as well as various activities and excursions designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of their host country. The scholarship covers all the program’s expenses and includes a $960 stipend.

Selected from more than 5,700 applications nationally, Murphy was among 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students awarded one of the state department’s critical language scholarships.

Murphy has been to mainland China three times previously, but this will be her first trip to Taiwan. She went to China with her family when she was 11 years old and spent a year in Beijing during a gap year before coming to Lawrence.

“Studying abroad gives you a lot of different perspectives and helps you mature,” said Murphy, a home-school graduate who lives in Milwaukee. “I had already taken four years of Chinese at UW-Milwaukee during high school so China was the logical place to go for a gap year before coming to Lawrence.”

“I’m excited about this trip particularly because Taiwan is a place I haven’t been before,” added Murphy, who took her first Chinese language lessons when she was 10. “Because of all the conflict between China and Taiwan and my experience becoming familiar with the Chinese perspective while living in China, I’m very interested in learning the Taiwanese side of the story.”

Meghan Murphy spent 18 days in China last December as part of Lawrence’s “Sustainable China” initiative.

Murphy’s most recent trip to China was last December as part of Lawrence’s 18-day multi-disciplinary initiative “Sustainable China: Integrating Culture, Conservation and Commerce.” She was one of 12 students to participate in that program.

“I hope to continue applying what I learned on the Sustainable China trip particularly in relation to the intersection of religion beliefs and environmental awareness,” said Murphy.

Jason Brozek, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and associate professor of government at Lawrence, who led the December “Sustainable China” trip, called Meghan “a terrific student with exactly the kind of broad, diverse interests we encourage Lawrentians to develop.”

“I had the pleasure of working with her over the course of several months as part of the Sustainable China traveling classroom and the critical language scholarship will be an excellent springboard for her future success,” said Brozek.

While her critical language scholarship may complicate the final weeks of Murphy’s Spring term, it’s a trade-off she’s more than willing to make.

“I’m always looking to experience new perspectives, so going somewhere new, having a host family to live with, and taking language classes is a spectacular opportunity.”

The CLS, a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, was launched in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas and expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Indic (Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu) and Turkic (Turkish and Azerbaijani).

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.