fulbright

Moroccan professor teaches Arabic at Drury thanks to Fulbright program

For 10 years, Jalal Ismaili taught English to students in his home country, Morocco. This year, as part of the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship program, he is teaching Arabic to American students at Drury, creating an important cultural exchange that emphasizes Drury’s global studies mission.

Ismaili teaches elementary and advanced Arabic courses as part of Drury’s Middle East Studies minor. Arabic is the official language of Morocco and 21 other countries in Africa and Asia.

Jalal Ismaili

Jalal Ismaili

The Fulbright program is funded by the U.S. State Department and managed by the International Institute of Education. It involves a rigorous, competitive application process, and provides opportunities for students, professors and scholars from the United States to teach and study abroad, and vice versa. Six current Drury professors and even some former students have been granted Fulbright awards to study and teach in their fields overseas.

For nine years, Drury has also hosted an Arabic Foreign Language Teaching Assistant through the program.

“One of the great benefits for Drury is that we get the opportunity for people to come from the Middle East and teach an important and challenging language,” says Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg, professor of political science and director of the Middle East Studies program. “More significantly, we get a view of the Arab world in a human way — a cultural exchange and understanding that’s not just through news headlines.”

Ismaili spoke with the previous Fulbright FLTA scholar who came to Drury last year and consequentially had high expectations about what he would experience when he came to Springfield.

“He told me that the people here were very kind and welcoming and I can see that throughout the campus,” Ismaili said. “I’ve taught about American culture, but I haven’t gotten to actually live it, so this opportunity has really helped me in my career and given me a better, cultural understanding.”

Ismaili holds an M.A. in multilingual translation and is currently working on his Ph.D. in English. During his time at Drury, he hopes to act as an ambassador for his country. He teaches Arab culture, history and customs in his language courses, and has guest-lectured in other professors’ classes.

“I think many students have misconceptions about the Arab world just as I have had misconceptions about Americans,” says Ismaili. “People tend to overgeneralize on both sides. Changing those views is one of my priorities. I don’t just want to tell others about the culture, I want to bring them into it and into the environment.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

 

Drury recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 21, 2011 — Drury University was recognized in the Oct. 24 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the “top producers of Fulbright scholars.” Drury was tied for second with three Fulbright scholars on the list of Master’s Universities. The list of colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright scholars is sponsored by the Institute of International Education.

Drury professors Dr. Erin Kenny, Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols and Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg earned Fulbright Fellowships for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Dr. Erin Kenny

Kenny, an associate professor of anthropology, will teach graduate courses in development studies for the Center for Gender Development at the Morogoro campus of Mzumbe University. Additionally, Kenny plans to conduct research with Nyakusa women commodity farmers. This study will serve as an expansion on her previous ethnographic work with women wage earners and household heads in Mali, Guinea and Jamaica.

Dr. Elizabeth Nichols

A gifted linguist, professor and chair of Spanish, Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols will spend the spring semester of 2012 at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, where she will continue her research into the concept and production of physical beauty in literature and culture.

Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg is headed for Slovenia in spring 2012, where he will be teaching at the University of Ljubljana (pronouncer: lyoo-BLYAH-nah).  In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, he will further his teaching and research interests of Islam in Europe. This research will lead to a comparative study of the public policies of European Union countries toward their Muslim populations.

Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg

According to the Fulbright Scholar Program’s website, “The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. Approximately 310,000 ‘Fulbrighters’ have participated in the Program since its inception in 1946.”

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Drury professor moves to Tanzania for teaching and research

Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a great adventure, or nothing.” Drury professor Erin Kenny is opting for the adventure. Beginning today, Kenny and her seven-year-old daughter Kiera will move to the east African country Tanzania where Kenny will teach and conduct research as a Fulbright Scholar for the next 10 months.

Dr. Erin Kenny

Kenny, an associate professor of anthropology, will teach graduate courses in development studies for the Center for Gender Development at the Morogoro campus of Mzumbe University. This is not Kenny’s first trip to Africa.  From 1995-1997, Kenny lived in Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer and she did doctoral research in Guinea in 2003 where she met her former husband and Kiera’s father. She also visited the continent three other times. Like any mother, Kenny has concerns about taking her daughter to Africa.   “If there’s any time to bring a 7-year-old, it’s through the Fulbright program. I will work through the U.S. embassy. We’re really fortunate. In the Horn of Africa today, there are mothers of 15,000 children dying every day from famine and disease.”

Dr. Kenny with Mariame Kaba. A woman who worked on women's health issues in Africa.

It’s those women that Kenny has studied during her career. In Tanzania, Kenny will continue her research on women wage earners and household heads that she has conducted in Mali, Guinea and Jamaica. She’s found that women invest differently than men, “Men often invest in high risk, high reward businesses. Women will invest in a goat or a uniform so children can go to school. When women are wage earners, the nutritional and educational profile of the household improves.”

Ultimately, Kenny hopes that through her research and advocacy, she can improve lives. “The system breaks down for poor people over and over again. That’s why I keep doing what I do, to try to get policy makers to listen to researchers.”

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Drury professor to work and study in Slovenia as Fulbright fellow

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 4, 2011 — Drury professor Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work in Slovenia in the spring of 2012.

As a current professor of political science and chair of Middle East studies, VanDenBerg will be teaching in the Department of Political Science housed in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana (pronouncer: lyoo-BLYAH-nah) for the spring semester of 2012.  In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, he will be furthering his teaching and research interests of Islam in Europe. This research will lead to a comparative study of the public policies of European Union countries toward their Muslim populations.

Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg

VanDenBerg is the third Drury professor to receive recognition as a Fulbright fellow for the 2011-2012 academic year.  He joins Dr. Erin Kenny, who will spend 10 months teaching in Tanzania, as well as Dr. Elizabeth Nichols who will be examining the beauty industry of Venezuela.

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for scholars, teachers, and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research and university teaching. Through this program, more than 800 U.S. faculty and professionals taught or conducted research abroad during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Media Contact:
Dr. Jeff VanDenBerg
Director, Middle East Studies
Professor, Political Science
Office: (417) 873-6947
E-mail
: jvandenb@drury.edu

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Drury professors to work and study abroad as Fulbright fellows

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 26, 2011 — Drury professors Dr. Erin Kenny and Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols have been awarded Fulbright Fellowships for the 2011-2012 academic year.

A talented anthropologist and professor of interdisciplinary studies, Kenny will be teaching for 10 months in Tanzania at the Morogoro campus of Mzumbe University. This school is located in the far west of the country near Malawi. Kenny will be housed within the Institute of Development and teach graduate level courses for the Center for Gender Development during her stay.

Dr. Erin Kenny

Additionally, Kenny plans to conduct research with Nyakusa women commodity farmers. This study will serve as an expansion on her previous ethnographic work with women wage earners and household heads in Mali, Guinea and Jamaica.

A gifted linguist, professor and chair of Spanish, Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols will spend the spring semester of 2012 at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, where she will continue her research in literature and popular culture. Her project’s overarching goal is to investigate the complex interrelationship between the visual and written images of westernized European beauty with which Venezuelans are bombarded on a daily basis.

Her research will also examine the extremely high rates of spending on beauty products and the long history of strained racial and economic class relations in the nation. Nichols will also investigate and explore how women in Venezuela are both molded by the beauty machine and use the beauty machine to achieve their professional goals.

Dr. Elizabeth Nichols

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for scholars, teachers, and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research and university teaching. Through this program, more than 800 U.S. faculty and professionals taught or conducted research abroad during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Media Contact:
Erin Kenny
Director, Women’s Studies Program
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: (417) 873-7226
E-mail
: ekenny@drury.edu

Elizabeth Nichols
Chair, Department of Languages
Professor, Spanish
Office: (417) 873-6925
E-mail:
enichols@drury.edu

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