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ASU Melikian Center faculty, students pursue collaborations through Fulbright Awards


Portrait of student with red hair and beard and glasses

Recent ASU graduate Christian Shousha will teach English in Batumi, Georgia, for the next nine months as a Fulbright Scholar. Photo courtesy Christian Shousha

August 28, 2023

This fall, students and faculty affiliated with Arizona State University's Melikian Center will undertake research and teaching in Armenia, Finland, Georgia and Kazakhstan through the U.S. Fulbright Program, helping to build positive international relationships in Europe and Eurasia.

ASU is a top-producing institution for both U.S. student and faculty scholar Fulbright awards, one of only nine universities to do so, and the university ranks second overall among public universities, behind the University of Michigan.

We talked to the scholars about their projects and what they hope to accomplish.

Faculty

Finland

Professor Iveta Silova from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will be collaborating with professors Zsuzsa Millei and Nelli Piattoeva at the University of Tampere, Finland, on a project titled “Facing the Anthropocene: Education for Planetary Survival.”   

Silova and her colleagues begin from the commitment stated in ASU’s charter that universities are responsible for the broader communities they serve. Challenging the status quo, the project starts with the assumption that education is deeply implicated in the climate crisis and must be radically reimagined and rebuilt in ways that nurture nonexploitative and interdependent relations among people — and between people and planet — in order to recuperate, build resilience and sustain the well-being of all. 

This work draws on Silova’s long-standing collaboration with Finnish colleagues.

“The Fulbright Scholar Program is a unique opportunity to deepen connections with colleagues in Finland and beyond while amplifying synergies across various projects that seek alternative paths to planetary futures,” Silova said.

Georgia

Peter Schmelz, a professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, has been working since 2021 with two Georgian musicologists, professors Nana Sharikadze and Maia Sigua, on a project about late-Soviet music. This builds on his earlier work on Soviet-era music, which earned him multiple awards.

Schmelz has been awarded a Flex Fulbright, and will make three trips to Georgia over the next two years, totaling four months. Schmelz will teach classes on American music at the Tbilisi Conservatory and work on a project called "Centering the Periphery in Unofficial Soviet Music in Georgia."

“I'm very much looking forward to working further with my Georgian collaborators in Tbilisi, as well as learning more about Georgian music and its relationships to other music from the USSR in its final decades,” Schmelz said.

Students

Three recent ASU alumni were also recognized through Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Awards in 2023 to live and work in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

“We’re very proud of these amazing students,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships and director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement, which manages the application process at ASU for the Fulbright US Student Program.

“Arizona State has been designated a Top Producing Institution by the Department of State for 18 out of the past 20 years, due in large part to the strength of our Russian language programs and emphasis on Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It’s a huge advantage for us,” Mox said.

MORE: 16 ASU students have been offered Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards for 2023–24

Collin Frank ('23 MA, School of Politics and Global Studies) will spend 2023–24 as a Fulbright ETA at Yerevan State University in Armenia. Frank studied Russian at ASU, including intensive summer study in Kyrgyzstan at the Critical Languages Institute, and also has three years’ experience tutoring Russian. In 2022, he was also awarded a Pickering Fellowship to prepare for a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

“I'm excited to learn from my students, and experience some of the legendary hospitality that Armenia is known for,” Frank said. “Explaining America to foreign audiences is one of the key elements of American diplomacy; the Fulbright Program is a great way to support that initiative as a student diplomat.”

Christian Shousha ('23 BA, School of International Letters and Cultures) will teach English in Batumi, Georgia, for the next nine months. Shousha started learning Russian at ASU through the Critical Language Institute over the summer of 2020.

“Building on this, and with the support of the amazing Russian faculty at ASU, I've been awarded honorable mentions for two national Russian essay contests and nominated the Best Russian Graduating Student Award in spring 2023,” Shousha said. 

Last summer, Shousha won a Critical Languages Scholarship to study advanced Russian at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia.

“I fell in love with the Georgian language and culture, and that drove me to apply to Fulbright," he said.

Shousha will also draw from his experience teaching English to international students with ASU's Global Launch and tutoring Italian for two years. He said he is excited to share his native language and culture with others, and to be immersed in another culture entirely.

Eli Fox ('22 BA, School of International Letters and Cultures) will travel to Kazakhstan to be an ETA at Dosmukhamedov Atyrau University in the city of Atyrau, at the mouth of the Ural river on the Caspian Sea. Fox graduated with a degree in Russian, after becoming interested in the language from reading novels and then taking Russian as a first-year ROTC cadet through Project GO. 

Fox began developing skills in teaching while he was a student at ASU, visiting Tarwater Elementary School to prepare students for a call with Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station.

The next deadline to apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is Sept. 12, and graduating seniors, recent graduates and current graduate students who wish to apply for funding for teaching, research or study projects through Fulbright should visit fulbright.asu.edu to get started. For ASU faculty and staff seeking Fulbright opportunities, the ASU Fulbright Office provides numerous resources and support, from identifying the best award to advisement on forming a competitive application. Karen Engler-Weber, ASU’s Fulbright liaison, can be reached at Karen.Engler@asu.edu.

Written by Keith Brown, director of the Melikian Center at ASU.

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