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ISSUE 120 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/4/2007

Fulbright scholars awarded

By Lisa Gulya
Staff Writer

Friday, May 4, 2007

St. Olaf will send seven Fulbright scholars across the globe next fall, exceeding its annual average of six scholars. The five seniors and one recent graduate will complete 9- or 12-month research projects or teach English. Two students, Jessica Burtness '06 and Chelsea Gordon '06, were named alternates.

Senior Michael Reading has the shortest trip to Toronto, Canada, a city with nearly half its population foreign-born, where he will study immigration policy. Reading, a Political Science major, hopes to be affiliated with CERIS, an immigration research organization, while he studies at Ryerson University in the Immigration and Settlement Studies program. His research interest grew out of a comparative study of immigration policy in the United States and Canada that he researched in the Citizenship and Immigration Seminar last spring taught by Assistant Professor of Political Science Katherine Tegtmeyer-Pak. Reading said his work in Canada will focus on "the work of local institutions in helping immigrants throughout the citizenship process."

Two other students will also study policy. Mary Sotos '07 will head to Brussels, Belgium to study the energy policies of Belgium's three political regions. Sotos said she will be "looking into what the role is of environmental organizations in shaping the policy of the regions. Hopefully that will give me some access into looking into EU policy more broadly." Sotos, an environmental studies major in the social sciences track, studied international environmental policy in an independent study last spring.

Leigh Billings '07 will study environmental policy in China, a country that, unlike EU members, resists international collaboration. An Asian Studies and political science major, Billings became interested in environmental policy and the role of non-governmental organizations in particular after working as a campaign coordinator for an environmental organization last summer. She will spend the academic year in Shanghai and move on to Beijing in the summer to work with and observe additional NGOs.

"The government has constraints on it [NGO activity], and it is interesting to see how that rubs up against international funders," Billings said.

Conflict and collaboration are two themes of senior Kathryn Sederberg's research, which she will carry out independently while working 12 hours a week as an English teaching assistant in Germany. Sederberg, who designed a CIS major at St. Olaf entitled "Franco-German Studies," hopes to sit in on history classes in the high school she teaches to observe how new French-German collaborative textbooks covering the world wars and inter-war period work in the classroom. "It's the first bi-national history project and so I hope to attend history classes and see any controversies," Sederberg said. Sederberg is particularly excited about the opportunity to see how the textbook is treated in the school because it is located in the Saarland, the region of Germany that borders France.

Senior Andrea Horbinski, a classic and Asian studies major, will also be studying politicized texts and will focus on hyper-nationalist manga in Japan. Manga is a genre "comparable to the popularity of TV here," Horbinski said, "that falls somewhere between comic books and graphic novels as they're understood in the United States." Horbinski plans to study manga that focuses on the events of the Asia-Pacific War, and will also study the Japanese position and racist portrayals of the Chinese and Koreans.

Computer science and psychology major Elizabeth Jensen '07 maintains the St. Olaf connection with Norway and will be heading to Tromsø, Norway to study distributed systems and robotics. Jensen has worked with Lego robots over the last few years in and out of the classroom. Distributed systems are a networked group of computers with one central computer (parent node) that delegates different tasks to other computers in the network (child nodes). Distributed systems allow computations to be done simultaneously which leads to much more rapid actions by the robots. Jensen explains that while the robot tasks are simple--picking up tennis balls and playing tag in a room--the technology may someday be advanced enough to aid in search and rescue missions. "The technology is getting smaller so it's getting easier to build the parts you need," Jensen explained.

One alumnus, Ross Kanaga '05 also won a Fulbright. He attended culinary school after completing degrees in economics and studio arts at St. Olaf. Kanaga said he waited to apply for a Fulbright because while at St. Olaf, he had thought that the grant "was reserved for 4.0 class-president rock stars. In reality, it is reserved for people with a passion for cross-cultural exchange through sharing, learning and creating." Kanaga became fascinated with Thailand while on Term in Asia, and he will return to be a teaching assistant outside of Bangkok, where he plans "to use cooking to aid in teaching English and creating an environment of cross-cultural exchange."

Several of the Fulbright recipients plan to pursue graduate school after they complete their year abroad. Their plans for this summer, as most of them take off this September, range from waitressing (Sederberg) to wetland restoration ecology (Sotos).

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