Fulbright Scholars Live and Learn Abroad

This year marks the first time the College of Charleston has had two graduates living, learning, and working abroad as Fulbright Scholars. Sytske Hillenius ’12, who graduated with a double major in arts management and music, and Lauren Fuess ’12, a graduate in marine biology, earned prestigious Fulbright Scholarships while attending the College.

Hillenius is spending her year abroad as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Melbourne studying ethnomusicology. Hillenius, who was a familiar figure in Charleston’s folk-music scene, has joined the thriving folk-music community in Tasmania. Her research at the University of Melbourne explores the influence of Celtic folk traditions–amongst other multicultural influences–on Tasmanian music.

“When I visited Australia a year ago,” she explains, “I was surprised to find I was already familiar with a large number of the tunes popular there.” Traditional Tasmanian music, she continues, “comes out of a Celtic tradition from immigrants and prisoners shipped to Australia”–a connection that informs the Appalachian folk traditions that comprise her own musical background.

Honors College Alumna Fuess is spending her Fulbright year at the University of the West Indies working in the Discovery Bay Marine Lab.  Of her time in Jamaica, Fuess writes that “my first four months have provided me rich opportunities to get involved in a wide variety of scientific projects and to network with a number of international researchers from the University of West Indies and elsewhere.” Beyond gaining crucial scientific research experience, Fuess is gaining significant cultural experience as well. “Even after four months here in Jamaica,” Fuess says, “I continue to learn more about the culture and ways of the diverse people who live here.  Their hospitality and sense of community never ceases to amaze me. Everywhere I go I feel welcomed regardless by the people I meet.”

Shortly after arriving in Jamaica, Fuess found the inspiration for one of her main projects.  ”The University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Lab is situated on the coast of one of Jamaica’s Marine Protected areas,” Fuess explains, “yet there is a large bauxite loading facility on the coast of the same bay.  After making this observation, I decided to focus on studying the impacts of this facility on immune response of corals in the bay.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.  Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

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