Syracuse University Magazine

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Cultural Explorations

Newhouse sophomore Hannah Butler spent her summer becoming a cultural ambassador. A public relations major with minors in English and marketing, she participated in the Fulbright-Scotland Summer Institute through the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Butler is the first SU student to receive the award, which funded five weeks of study in Scotland with an emphasis on the country’s history, culture, and technological advances. She calls the journey a life-changing one, rich with such experiences as attending lectures on Scottish architecture and forensics, exploring abbeys and castles, and being an honored guest at the Glasgow City Chambers. “Everything I did—the tours I went on, the archives I saw, the people I met, and the information I was privy to—I could not have done just traveling by myself and scheduling my own things,” Butler says. “I loved it!”

Butler was among seven SU students and alumni who won Fulbright awards in 2016, including four recent graduates who were selected for the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs in Ecuador, France, Taiwan, and Thailand. Three graduate students received study/research grants, two to travel to India and one to Ghana. The research grants and ETA are awarded through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. More than 1,900 U.S. citizens were selected for this academic year, on the basis of academic and professional achievement, service, and leadership.   

Sean Reid, an anthropology doctoral candidate in the Maxwell School, was awarded a Fulbright to spend nine months in Ghana researching the pre-Atlantic history of the country’s Central Region. “It’s something I’m very excited to do,” says Reid, whose fieldwork in Ghana will inform his doctoral thesis. “I’m looking at settlement patterns before the Atlantic era of trade, exploring heavily forested areas that are not well known. There are indications that there were societies living in these forests in the Iron Age that abruptly abandoned their settlements around the 13th or 14th century A.D. I’m trying to get a better sense of why that is.”

Both Reid and Butler credit the strong support from the University for assisting them in achieving Fulbright grants. The Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA) supports SU students and alumni in their pursuit of a variety of grants and scholarships, helping them discern which opportunities are the best fit and facilitating the rigorous application process. “Our 2016 Fulbright winners are a truly outstanding group, and they are well-suited to carry out the goals of the Fulbright program: to promote mutual understanding and cultural exchange,” says CFSA director Jolynn Parker, a campus Fulbright program advisor. “They’ve earned a unique opportunity to share their academic interests, culture, and skills with the people they meet in their host country, and to learn extraordinary amounts in return.”

CFSA also organizes Fulbright interest sessions and writing workshops with faculty, including anthropology professor Susan Wadley, the campus Fulbright faculty representative. “Fulbright awards are a great honor that allows our students to do research, teach, and gain experience across the globe,” says Wadley, the Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies. “Whether graduate students doing dissertation research or recent graduates teaching English, this experience will have long-term effects on their careers and lives.”

For Butler, the benefits are already evident, including increased confidence, greater intellectual and cultural curiosity, and a valued network of new international friends and mentors. She encourages anyone who is eligible to go for it. “What other opportunity could you have in your life to be not just a tourist in a country, but a guest?” she says. —Amy Speach



Fulbright Award Recipients

The following students also received Fulbright study/research grants:

Adrienne Atterberry G’12, G’15, sociology doctoral candidate, Maxwell School, India

Alisa Weinstein, anthropology doctoral candidate, Maxwell School, India

 

The following recent graduates and alumni were selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program:

Clara Echeverria-Ng ’15, Taiwan

Kaitlyn Hobson ’16, Thailand

Binta Jammeh ’12, France

Haley Kulakowski ’16, Ecuador

Kaitlin O’Rourke ’16, ETA alternate, Uruguay