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Fulbright winners poised to travel around the world

<rleton seniors have been awarded Fulbright fellowships.  The prestigious program, funded by the U.S. State Department, awards grants to students, teachers and scholars to teach, study, conduct research and lecture in over 155 countries.  This week, The Carletonian profiles four of the recipients.  The other four will be featured next week.

Andrew McClung

Andrew McClung ’10 has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to work with a group of physicists in Innsbruck, Austria on quantum computing. Andrew became very interested in quantum computing during his time at Carleton, and chose to do his program in Austria partly because of the many studies in quantum computing going on there. Austria’s status as a German speaking country was also a factor, as was the fact that it is more overlooked by other Fulbright scholars and less competitive to study there.

Andrew is uncertain as to whether his research proposals will get far in the time he has to spend there.

“The field is changing so quickly that I’m not sure that what I propose will be relevant by the time I get there,” McClung said. The experience gained on the program will be invaluable as will the connections he will make with international scientists. McClung said that quantum computing has the potential to expand the palette of what computers can do, advancing computers’ ability to sort and decrypt information and helping researchers better manipulate quantum phenomena such as teleportation.

“Don’t get excited,” McClung said. The discipline is more a matter of transferring the state of particle A to particle B and in the process destroying particle A than zapping people instantaneously across the globe. The future “will be here soon,” but it isn’t quite here now.
McClung will be splitting his time between the lab and the classroom, teaching English at a public high school in Austria. He says this will be necessary for his German. According to Andrew only half the people in the project are native German speakers with British and American researchers making up the other half. Andrew will spend 12-15 hours a week teaching Austrian students.

Katie Williams

Katie Williams ’10 is a Fulbright scholar who will be doing a teaching assistantship at a university in Mons, Belgium. As a French major she was very interested in working in a francophone country, and she chose Belgium because of her curiosity about the Walloon/Flemish cultural divide and how it plays into the everyday lives of Belgian citizens. She has visited Belgium previously when working as a nanny, while in high school, and with family.

“I thought it would be interesting to go back,” Williams said. In addition to her previous connections with Belgium, the location is ideal for visiting her Carleton friends who have been awarded teaching assistantships in France – Ian Merkel ’10 and Julia Wiseman ’10.

“Studying abroad will help me figure out what I want to do,” Williams said. She is interested in international education, and this teaching assistantship will be invaluable in exploring this field. She also believes that experiencing another culture is beneficial to everyone, and hopes to become a part of the community of Mons during her stay there.

Katie’s position at Carleton as a French TA is preparing her for teaching language courses. She hopes to find a course on teaching English as a second language during the summer, but intends to educate herself on the subject by reading books about the field. She was on Carleton’s Paris program in 2008 and was on the Mali program this winter. The experiences, she said, will help her adjust to the change of culture when she begins working in Mons. The Fulbright program will also provide her support while she stays in Belgium, which is why she chose it over a more hands off teaching assistantship program offered to her by the French government.

Kevin Pollock

Kevin Pollock ’10 will be working for Professor Giso Hahn at the University of Konstanz in the German state of Baden-Württemberg studying solar cells, silk and solar panels.

Pollock became interested in the Fulbright program after his friend Andrew McClung ’10 applied, and searched the internet for inspiration and information to develop his own program. “I Googled solar cells in Germany,” he said, “and [Giso Hahn] came up so I e-mailed him.” Professor Hahn agreed to take him on if he got accepted.

“It’s unclear how much I’ll get done [in 10 months],” Pollock said on his project, “but I’ll find out a ton of stuff.” Pollock declared chemistry as a major because he felt that he wanted to do something about the problem of global warming. He is considering working in the field of chemistry to study solar cells and fuel cells, and expects his project will help him determine if that is the field of study that he wants to pursue. Pollock has been accepted to UC Berkeley, so the career-related knowledge he will gain on the Fulbright scholarship will come in handy when he chooses his classes there.

Pollock said that he will experience the culture of the area for sure, but will suffer a slight barrier to interacting with the people of Konstanz. The German dialect of Baden-Württemberg will probably not be comprehensible to someone who speaks only High German, especially High German as a second language. Pollock is brushing up on his German vocabulary so he’ll be at less of a disadvantage, and is taking physics classes to prepare for working in the lab. However, he insists that the most important element of getting ready for his program will be getting lots of sleep.

Mikaela Van Sistine

Mikaela Van Sistine ’10 is a linguistics major interested in the field of education, making  her position teaching English in Vietnam a good place to explore both her interests in teaching and languages. Wanting to learn a new language was a major reason she chose to go to Vietnam. Her position, which she describes as “equivalent to that of an LA at a Vietnamese school,” will give her valuable hands-on experience teaching and help her decide if she wants to make a career of it. Speaking to colleagues of Carleton professors who have been to Vietnam, she learned that “[Vietnamese] faculty and students are so friendly and eager to learn.” This impression, she said, was the ultimate deciding factor in choosing that country.

Getting into the program was “intimidating”, but she found the Carleton advisory board for Fulbrighters “really helpful in refining my application”.

Van Sistine is preparing extensively through the Fulbright program, whose pre-travel requirements she describes as crazy in their comprehensiveness. She has undergone extensive vaccination against diseases she never knew existed such as Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-born viral disease which can cause brain damage. She is also reading a guide written especially for Fulbrighters in Vietnam, and will attend a four-week orientation in Hanoi. The orientation will prepare her for her stay so that she will not just be jumping into Vietnam unprepared. Avoiding the dangers of culture shock will help her achieve her other goal: to truly understand the country.

“I want to make meaningful connections and get to know people,” Van Sistine said, adding that she has a strong desire to master Vietnamese as well as understand how the education system works in the country. This knowledge may be very useful for her later in life, as she thinks she may eventually return to Vietnam. This type of cultural exchange is a major part of the original intent of the Fulbright scholarship program. Senator Fulbright himself declared that “learning and empathy between cultures” was one of the program’s major goals.

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