June 4, 1999

Five Middlebury College Seniors Awarded Fulbright Fellowships -- An Unprecedented Five Out of Seven Nominees from Middlebury Receive the Award

An unprecedented five out of seven Middlebury College students nominated by the College for the J. William Fulbright Fellowship have received the award. Five seniors--Julie Crosby of Livermore, Colo.; David Grass of Jericho, Vt.; Erich Osterberg of Newton, Mass.; Ashley Palmer of Southampton, Mass.; and Kate Stone of Bethesda, Md.--have been awarded 1999 fellowships.

The Fulbright Program, which is funded by the United States Information Agency, awards roughly 1,000 academic grants each year to graduating seniors and graduate students to fund a year of research abroad. This year marks the first time that such a high percentage of Middlebury applicants have received Fulbright grants.

Fulbright fellows are normally affiliated with a university in the country in which they will be studying. The program provides fellows with airfare, tuition, and a stipend for housing, food, and other expenses.

Middlebury's applicants for the Fulbright Program are evaluated and advised by Director of Off-Campus Study David Macey and the Study Abroad Committee. Four to eight Middlebury students usually apply each year and, in past years, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of those graduates have received grants.

"The Fulbright Program is the culmination of one's intellectual and academic life and the launching pad for the rest of his or her intellectual and academic life," said Macey.

Julie Crosby spent her junior year in Zimbabwe and Ghana and plans to return to Ghana for her fellowship. As a sociology/anthropology major with an English minor, she will unite her two fields of study through her research of Ghanaian literature from a social perspective.

She plans to audit courses at the University of Cape Coast, where she studied last year, and travel around southern Ghana, living in homestays. She will research literacy issues, explore the influence of oral literature on written literature, and examine more informal forms of pamphlet literature, which are available to people who can't afford to buy novels, and are roughly equivalent to American comic books. The ultimate goal of her research is to develop a curriculum for teaching Ghanaian literature from a social perspective.

"I'm interested in cross-cultural representation," Crosby said. "If Americans can understand Ghanaian literature in the context of where it comes from, then that can help to address some of the gross misrepresentations of African countries that are found in the news media and in Western literature."

David Grass, an environmental studies and chemistry joint major, will return to Chile, where he spent last spring studying rain forest vegetation. His project will focus on lichens as biological indicators of atmospheric pollution--a connection he learned of while studying in Chile last spring. As his project, he said, "I hope to develop a low-tech, easy, and cheap means of detecting the air pollution that greatly affects the crops in the rural agricultural areas of Chile. Currently farmers there have no equipment for this purpose."

"People's burden to endure exposure to someone else's pollution gives them the right to know its effects," Grass added.

He will be doing field work outside Santiago, where he will also take classes at the University of Chile.

Erich Osterberg, a geology major, will return to New Zealand, where he spent last fall, to research underwater chimneys and canyons on the continental shelf off the eastern coast.

He learned of the existence of the underwater chimneys and canyons while taking classes at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. The formations exist nowhere else in the world, and have not been extensively researched. Osterberg, who studied marine geology and oceanography at Middlebury, saw a great research opportunity. "It was a really interesting project that was waiting to be done," he said.

In addition to taking classes at the University of Otago, Osterberg will do field research, which will eventually be applied toward a master's degree in marine geology at the university.

Ashley Palmer, an East Asian studies major, will spend 12 months in Japan, where she lived for two years with her family as a child and also spent her junior year in high school on an exchange program. Her fellowship will allow her to study the community solidarity of rural Japanese health care, as well as how residents of a village or members of a group work together to take care of each other--an aspect of Japanese collective traditional culture.

Palmer will take classes at a Japanese university. She also plans to study one community in depth to examine the ways in which the modern health care system in Japan complements or conflicts with traditional ideas of health care.

"Countries look at each other's health care systems to find ways to improve delivery, utilization, and access to health care," she said. "However, I think it is important to keep in mind the intricacies of any particular society or tradition."

Kate Stone, an international studies major with concentrations in Japanese and history, spent her junior year abroad in Japan, and will return there for her fellowship. She proposes to study the situation of Japanese children on the homefront during World War II, many of whom were evacuated for their own protection.

Stone's research will take the form of an oral history project and she plans to interview survivors of the war as well as look at records and diaries. She will also take classes at a Japanese university. When her research is finished, she hopes her findings will be published as an article.

"I had an amazing experience last year in Japan," Stone said. "I think a piece of my heart is somewhere in Japan."