Section: Features

Fulbright scholars live, work and learn among other students

Fulbright scholars live, work and learn among other students

By India Amos


Students in Russian and Chinese classes may have encountered two new faces this year as Fulbright Scholars Anastasia Zhigalova and Dihong Zhong sit in on their classes and, on some days, conduct lessons of their own.

Zhigalova comes from the Komi Republic in the northwestern part of Russia while Zhong’s home is near the Guangdong province in southern China, but both have been brought to Kenyon as part of the U.S. government’s Fulbright Scholar Program. Fulbright operates in over 155 countries around the world. It allows individuals studying a foreign language to gain firsthand experience with their language of choice in a country that natively speaks that language. American students are also able to go abroad in order to study, conduct research and learn about the culture they have chosen to study.

“So far, I really enjoy being here,” Zhigalova said. “I like everything here — the environment, the campus, my housing.” Zhigalova lives with Zhong, a French teaching assistant and a Kenyon student in a North Campus Apartment.

“I love Kenyon,” Zhong said. “The campus is so beautiful, especially at this period of time.”

While both Zhigalova and Zhong appreciate the outside beauty of the Hill, their jobs as Fulbright scholars ensure that they see a fair amount of classrooms, too. While their responsibilities will grow as the year progresses, right now the scholars are still getting acclimated to life in a foreign country. As part of the program, Fulbright scholars are required to take two classes each semester, in addition to the language classes they must observe. Of those two required courses, which are all taken on an audit basis at Kenyon, one must relate somehow to American history or culture. Zhigalova’s advisor and Professor of Russian Natalia Olshanskaya said a class on this topic is required because “[Fulbright scholars] have to leave this country with some knowledge and some understanding of the United States.”

Both Fulbright scholars expressed excitement about their classes. Zhigalova is taking Visions of America from Abroad, taught by Associate Professor of Philosophy Juan DePasquale, as well as an upper-level German language course. “I spoke German four years ago,” Zhigalova said, “so I decided to refresh it. I really like taking German here.”

Zhong is taking an introductory American history course along with Professor of Anthropology David Suggs’s Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. “I think both classes give me the opportunity to know more about America … as well as the cultural aspect of not only the the United States but probably the comparative studies of different countries,” Zhong said. “You can have this kind of cultural awareness to see the world in different perspectives.”

The enthusiasm Zhigalova and Zhong have as students transfers to their work helping to teach foreign languages. Kelsey Hamilton ’15, who studied abroad in Beijing last year, said she appreciates being able to work so closely with Zhong in her Chinese language class. “Professor Zhong has been really, really great,” Hamilton said. “We have a one-on-one meeting with her once a week for 20 minutes.” Hamilton said she appreciates this less-structured time because it allows her and her fellow students to ask questions that would not be as relevant in class. “I feel like if there’s something I’d want to bring up … you know, what’s typical life like in China or about specific issues or something like that … [those meetings are] kind of a really cool facet for [asking questions],” she said.

Alex Harrover ’17, a student in the intermediate Russian class that Zhigalova often observes, said, “Occasionally [Zhigalova] will chime in with a cultural tidbit about the ways Russians live in this day and age, and she can verify cultural facts.”

Both Kenyon students and Fulbright scholars have gained the opportunity to learn about different cultures first-hand.

“We’re so fortunate to have someone from Russia who can provide us [with] this information,” Harrover said. “It beats Wikipedia.”



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