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Dr. Julia Stewart Receives Fulbright Award

St. Davids, PA, May 23, 2014: Dr. Julia Stewart, Professor of Foreign Languages at Eastern University, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mérida, México from August to December, 2014. She will be teaching seminars on methodology and second language acquisition to ESL (English as a Second Language) faculty in the language department. Dr. Stewart is especially pleased to be serving at a public university because she says, "Public universities in Mexico often educate first generation college students. A university degree with fluency in English can make a significant difference both economically and socially in the lives of these young people. I’m delighted to be able to offer my training to ESL faculty there.”

Dr. Stewart said she feels honored by this opportunity to give back a small part to Mexico for the formative years of her career she spent there. "A Fulbright is an important award in academe because scholars are considered ambassadors of their institution and of the United States in the country where they serve.”

No stranger to Mexico, Dr. Stewart taught ESL courses in Puebla at the Universidad de las Américas from 1982-1987 and again in 2007 on sabbatical. She has taught English, Spanish and French as foreign languages in a variety of settings. A graduate of Oral Roberts University (BA), Dr. Stewart earned an MA at the University of Arizona, and both the MA and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught at Eastern University since 1999. Her specialties are Latin American civilization and literature, second language acquisition and applied linguistics.

Dr. Stewart says, "I plan to use this experience to encourage my students and colleagues that learning a foreign language and embracing different cultures is about acquiring a new set of associations for other countries through personal relationships. This is, in my view, how to cultivate a truly global focus for an institution of higher education in the 21st century."  Dr. Stewart hopes to create teletandem exchanges via Skype between Eastern students and students in Mexico to foster language learning through personal interaction. She will also research aspects of Mayan culture that relate to her Eastern University courses in Latin American Civilization and Hispanic Concepts of Health and Sickness.

In 2009, her colleague Anne François, PhD, Professor of French at Eastern, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct nine months of research in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Dr. François taught American poetry and literary criticism at the Université de Ouagadougou and gave lectures to the community.  Dr. François enjoyed serving as a cultural ambassador and as a role model for young African women pursuing higher education.

Both Dr. Stewart and Dr. François are encouraging Eastern students to apply for Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarships which offer fellowships abroad for an academic year to graduating college seniors and graduate students.  

The traditional Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year. Grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Under a cooperative agreement with the Bureau, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) assists in the administration of the Fulbright Scholar Program for faculty and professionals.

The Language and Cultural Studies Department at Eastern believes that the identity of a people is inherently linked to their language. The department’s emphasis on cross-cultural communication challenges students to not only learn the language, but to seek to understand the culture of the people who speak the language. Many Eastern students participate in semester study abroad programs and in mission trips to a variety of countries where they experience both spiritual and intellectual growth. 

Learn more about the Language and Cultural Studies Department.

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