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February 10, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 10

Fulbright winner Assoc. Prof. Gil Manzon (CSOM) values the cultural experience he and his family shared during his research in Korea.

A Time for Research and 'Goodwill Americano'

Fulbright study offers chance for personal growth, say scholars

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

To Fulbright Scholar Jayanthia Narayan, a teacher of deaf and blind children in India who has come to the Lynch School of Education for post-doctoral research, visiting Boston has meant walking, literally, in the footsteps of Helen Keller.

Back from four months in Seoul on a Fulbright, BC Assoc. Prof. Gil Manzon (CSOM) values the cultural experience he and his family shared in Korea.

A Fulbright stay in Milan gave BC Prof. Daniel Kirschner (Biology) the chance to team with Italian colleagues on lab research and publications and to become an espresso-drinking master of the Italian rail system.

The Fulbright experience can be life-changing, say grantees from BC recently returned from abroad and their counterparts from other countries visiting here.

"It was my immersion and that of my family in day-to-day Korean life and culture that was life-enriching in ways that I simply did not - and don't think I could have - anticipated," said Manzon, who taught and conducted research on tax policy at Sogang University in Seoul this past semester as one of three BC Fulbrights abroad.

"My family and I were outsiders in a society dominated on many levels by 'insiders,'" Manzon said. "Nevertheless, we were welcomed with courtesy and care that I've found only very rarely before in my life.

"Long from now, these memories are the ones that will remain with us and dominate our thinking of this time."

This year's other BC Fulbright grantees were Asst. Prof. Jennifer Anne Steen (Political Science), who lectured on American politics this past semester at Shanghai International Studies University in China, and Kirschner, who was at San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, last fall developing transgenic mice for biophysical and structural studies of human dysmyelinating diseases.

"Teaching Chinese students about American political institutions and processes certainly focused my attention more on the meanings of core political concepts like representation and democracy," said Steen, who was accompanied to China by her husband, Jonathan Koppell, a Yale political scientist with a Fulbright lectureship at Fudan University.

"Also, working in a Chinese university deepened my appreciation for the openness and emphasis on intellectual exchange and questioning that are the hallmarks of American universities.

"I expect that my Fulbright tenure will have a larger impact on me as a person than on me as a scholar - living and teaching in such a different environment was a personal challenge and adventure that exceeded anything I've ever done."

Kirschner's Fulbright accomplishments in Milan included a journal article on a human form of Mad Cow Disease, a book chapter on myelin biology and disorders, and a draft manuscript on x-ray diffraction studies of transgenic mice.

But Kirschner adds a list of other, non-scientific achievements: "Segueing from caffe americano, to espresso lungo with sugar, to espresso lungo without sugar, to espresso normale, to espresso restricto; learning to travel anywhere within Milano via ATM in about 40 minutes; writing a journal of short essays about some of my experiences and adventures in Italy, [and] leaving nuggets of 'goodwill Americano' among colleagues and students in Milano, Parma, Bari, Hamburg, Porto, London, and among new friends in Milano, Torino, Roma, Bari, [and] Campiglia."

The Fulbright Scholar Program, sponsored by the US State Department, is the United States' flagship international educational exchange. Since its founding in 1946, thousands of American faculty and professionals have studied, taught or done research abroad, and thousands of their counterparts from other countries have engaged in similar activities in the United States.

Four Fulbright Scholars from abroad have come to Boston College this year.

Narayan, an assistant professor and head of the Special Education Department at the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped in Secunderabad, India, has been at the Lynch School since last August conducting research with Asst. Prof. Susan Bruce (LSOE) on the education of children who are deaf and blind.

"Dr. Bruce and I are studying perceptions of parents and teachers toward the cognitive functioning of children who are congenitally deaf-blind and children who have severe mental disabilities," he said.

"The results may throw light on guidelines for appropriate educational programming for such children and also the scope for conducting a similar study in India later. A comparison of results of the study in the two countries can help in seeing similarities and differences, again leading towards suitable programming across cultures."

The visiting educator has welcomed the opportunity to conduct research at the historic Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown. "I am fortunate," he writes, "to walk the pathways where once Helen Keller walked."

Inga Tomic-Koludrovic, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Zadar in Croatia, says she will spend the coming six months at BC and MIT working toward an annotated bibliography of sociologically pertinent studies in the field of new media, and a comparative study of the potential of new media in effecting democratic change in Central and East European post-socialist countries.

"I am of the opinion that a sociological view of new media and its democratic potential has been neglected so far," she said. "The Sociology Department at BC is promising just what I was looking for: an opportunity for academic discussion with professionals interested in the subject-matter beyond the call of duty, and offering a sociological angle on things usually viewed from a more technology-oriented perspective."

The other Fulbright visitors were: Sandra Lazarus, professor of education at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, South Africa, who while at the Lynch School last fall researched the development of community-based education support systems; and Sumiko Tsuhako, professor of nursing at Tenshi College in Sapporo, Japan, who worked at the Connell School of Nursing last semester with nurse theorist Prof. Sister Callista Roy, CSJ, on cognitive intervention for children's pain.

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