Fulbright Scholars bring diversity to University

2/11/2009 | By: Skyler Dillon  |

It is hard to imagine the challenge of relocating across the world and embracing a new culture, friends, language and school while at the same time pursuing an academic degree. That is exactly what a campus-record five Fulbright Scholars are doing at the University of Nevada, Reno this year.

U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright started the Fulbright program after World War II to promote peace and understanding between countries. The grant program offers both students and educators the chance to spend time in a culture that is foreign to them while conducting research in their fields of study. Since its inception, the program has spread to 144 countries and is now one of the most prestigious educational exchange opportunities available.

"We're very excited to have so many Fulbright students," said Susan Bender, director of the campus' Office for International Students and Scholars. "It's a big honor for the University."

Lin Li, a Chinese Fulbright Scholar, is enjoying her time in Nevada despite the culture shock. "I got used to the new place quite easily, since there is a nice Chinese community in Reno that makes me feel quite at home," she said.

Li, who uses Linda as her English name, said it has been helpful to have an unbiased and curious personality while learning about a new country.

"I did not need to make very big adjustments, since I always keep an open mind and like to communicate with people to learn something new," she said. She has noticed that unpredictable weather and the presence of casinos are two of the biggest differences between Nevada and her Asian home.

Li, studying English and environmental literature, attends a weekly workshop as well as having regular discussions with her supervisor to keep up to date on all research in her field. The regular consultations with her supervisor convinced her the Fulbright opportunity at Nevada is a boon for her academic career.

"I also feel the academic training here is very well organized, which impresses me greatly," she said.

"It provides pre-academic training and enrichment seminars, and I file a progress report regularly and get informative feedback," Li added. "That helps a lot for all my studies."

Li hopes to continue to learn about American culture after she returns home at the end of the semester. "I feel post-doctoral training would be quite attractive to me," she explained. "I'm thinking about applying for a post-doctoral fellowship in the U.S. after I receive my Ph.D. back home in China."

The other four Fulbright Scholars studying at the University this spring are: Mohamed Goher from Egypt, an animal science major; Thomas Pijanowski from Germany, majoring in international business; Indian student Vidya Sarveswaren, majoring in English and environmental literature; and Siham El Farchi from Morocco, an international affairs major.

To learn more about the Fulbright program at the University of Nevada, Reno, visit the Office of International Students and Scholars.


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