Campus: CSU Long Beach -- May 27, 2005

Two Cal State Long Beach Students Selected as 2005-06 U.S. Student Fulbright Fellows

California State University, Long Beach students Michelle Bolourchi and Henrietta Vinh have been selected as 2005-06 U.S. Student Fulbright Fellows and will spend the next academic year abroad.

Bolourchi, who completed her bachelor's degree in German/international studies in December 2004, is heading for Germany, where she will work closely with a German teacher of English at the middle school level while leading small groups in English conversation. Vinh, a senior majoring in English education, is bound for South Korea, where she will focus on English instruction at the high school level.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives recent graduates, postgraduate candidates and developing professionals and artists opportunities for personal enrichment and international experience. U.S. Student Teaching Assistantships in English are offered in many countries worldwide. Fellows are assigned various activities designed to improve their students' language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.

The purposes of the student program are three-fold: promote mutual understanding through a commitment to the free flow of people and ideas across national boundaries; expand the dimensions of human wisdom, empathy and perception; create true and lasting world peace through cooperation in constructive activities among people of different nations.

"I'm ecstatic, grateful, proud and ready to succeed," said Bolourchi, who will spend her Fulbright year as a teaching assistant in the province of Rhineland-Palatinate, which borders Belgium and Luxembourg. "I hope the students will benefit from having an American in their classroom as we have benefited from visiting German students and professors here at CSULB."

Bolourchi, who spent three semesters studying at a CSULB partner university in Oldenburg, Germany, has an abundance of goals for her year in Germany.

"I hope that my German language skills improve further and I hope that by serving as an ambassador of good will, so to speak, I can dispel stereotypes that both sides hold of each other," said Bolourchi said. "The most important thing for me is to promote an understanding between both sides and to be enriched by living abroad, so that when I return to the United States, I will be in tune with the German and European points of view towards America and be able to inform and discuss international issues based on my personal exposure to the sentiments and rationale in Germany."

Jutta Birmele, chair of the Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures (RGRLL) Department at CSULB, applauded Bolourchi's selection. "Michelle Bolourchi is the fourth German major from CSULB to have been awarded a Fulbright (grant) to Germany, and we are absolutely delighted," she said. "All four students had studied abroad for a year at our partnership with the University of Oldenburg. For me, this is the best demonstration that study abroad leads to personal intellectual growth, an opening of the mind to the international community, and the internationalization of our students' career path."

Vinh is optimistic about what her Fulbright will achieve. "I hope that teaching in Korea will not only help me fulfill J. William Fulbright's mission to promote cohesiveness among cultures, but to widen my understanding of the Korean culture in hopes of reaching out to ESL students in attaining English proficiency in America," she said.

"When I first entered the university in 2001, I had heard that CSULB had a wonderful program for prospective teachers," said Vinh. "I first majored in liberal studies, but decided that teaching a single subject seemed more appealing. Why? I wanted to focus on English instruction and hoped that my education would aid high school students to become proficient writers.

"High school did not prepare me for college level writing. I was ill prepared in composing and structuring my essay. Not surprisingly, I had to take a remedial English course," she added. "The professors I had over the course of my academic career fostered my eagerness to write academically; I became consciously aware of language and wrote vigorously."

She chose Korea for the opportunity to deepen her experience as an Asian American. "I chose Korea because I wanted to understand a different Asian culture other than my own," she said. "Also, I didn't want to limit myself to only my understanding of American culture and my Vietnamese heritage."

The Fulbright program provides grants for graduate students, scholars, professionals, teachers and administrators from the United States and other countries. The flagship international educational program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright program is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries..." With this goal, the program has provided more than 250,000 participants - chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential - with the opportunity to study and teach in each other's countries, exchange ideas, and develop joint solutions to address shared concerns.

Media Contacts:
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, rgloady@csulb.edu
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727, schroede@csulb.edu


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