Professor, 3 Students to Study, Teach Abroad as Fulbright Fellows

Olivia DrakeMay 9, 20127min
Su Zheng

As a 2012-12 Fulbright recipients, Miriam Berger ’12 will study journalism in Egypt; and Matthew Alexander ’12 and Lynn Heere ’12 will teach English in Germany. Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, will study, “China’s Emergent Soundscape: New Music Creativities, Body Politics and the Internet in Defining a Global Chineseness,” in Shanghai, China.

The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

Miriam Berger, a College of Social Studies major, will begin her year abroad on June 1, as a fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) in Cairo, Egypt. There, she will study Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Egyptian. After improving her Arabic and cultural literacy skills, she will begin her Fulbright research on how Egyptian print newspapers have responded to the creation of online space and the digitizing of news.

Miriam Berger ’12

Berger will visit several newspapers and interview editors, journalists, and Egyptian media scholars about the papers’ organizational and journalistic practices in print and on-line. She’ll also conduct content analyses of the newspapers in order to gain an understanding of how market logic, journalistic practices, internal organization, and cultural context mediate the impact of digital technology.

“Egypt is a very exciting place to be right now, and I am looking forward to an interesting year and to learn more about the people and places now constantly in the news,” she says. ” I have not studied in Egypt before and I am eager for the opportunity to learn more about the media sphere there, as Egypt is the historical center of Arab Media. No doubt the recent revolution has sparked my interest, but I wanted to study next in Egypt before the revolution happened, really!”

Heere, a German studies major, studied abroad for a semester in Spring 2010 with the Wesleyan Program in Regensburg, Germany. After experiencing the German culture, she hoped to return after graduating.

Lynn Heere '12

“I applied for the Teaching Assistantship in Germany as a way to help facilitate a cultural exchange between the U.S. and Germany,” Heere says. “Growing up in Los Angeles and graduating from Wes, I believe that I have an interesting perspective to offer my German high school students. I enjoy mentoring and hope to continue to be a resource for young people as a teaching assistant.”

In high school, Heere worked as a peer mentor, and at Wesleyan, as a peer advisor.

“Being a teaching assistant will allow me not only to enrich the English language skills and cultural awareness of my German students, but also to further my own understanding of German culture. This assistantship will give me the opportunity to assess whether teaching is a possible career for me after grad school,” she says.

Matt Alexander, also a German studies major, knew that if he didn’t learn a foreign language in college, he probably never would. Before his freshman year, Alexander went to a department open house and chose to study German after meeting Iris Bork-Goldfield, adjunct associate professor of German studies.

Matt Alexander '12

Four years later, he has studied abroad, translated a play from German into English and participated in a German-as-a-foreign-language theater troupe.

“I wanted to teach English in Germany because I believe it offers a great opportunity to continue the cross-cultural exchange between Germany and America that has been my favorite part of my Wesleyan experience,” he says.

Krishna Winston worked with 25 Wesleyan applicants, 10 of whom were recommended for grants by the U.S. screening committees.

The Fulbright Program, named in honor of Senator J. William Fulbright, was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

In addition, three Wesleyan alumni also received Fulbright awards. Cedric Bien ’08, a third-year medical student, will study public health in Thailand; Ilana Gross ’09 received a teaching assistantship for English in Brazil; and Sarah Elizabeth Borsody ’03 received a full research grant to Mexico, where she will analyze access to justice issues faced by Mexicans who have been deported from the U.S. and have pending legal matters back in the U.S. (e.g., divorce, custody, wage claims, asset transfers, even appeals of their deportation orders).

As Fulbright alternates, Rachel Cross ’12 would teach English in Argentina; Gedney Barclay ’09 would study theater in Italy; and David Maryasin ’08 would teach English in the Ukraine.