4 Rice University students receive Fulbright grants

Four Rice University students have received 2017 Fulbright grants to study, teach and/or conduct research in a foreign country.

“We are very proud of our Fulbright scholars who will be Rice’s best ambassadors abroad next academic year,” said Madalina Akli, associate director for global engagement and Fulbright scholarship adviser at Rice. “Fulbright does not only offer them an unparalleled opportunity for their research and teaching, but also allows them to immerse themselves in cultures different from their own and strengthen their cosmopolitan identity.”

The Fulbright Scholarship Program sponsors U.S. and foreign participants for exchanges in all areas of endeavor, including the sciences, business, academe, public service, government and the arts and strives to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.

Below are the 2017 Rice Fulbright grant recipients and their upcoming travel plans: 

Rachel Buissereth

Rachel Buissereth, a Hanszen College senior, will conduct research over the next year with James Cook University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Cairns and northwest Australia. Her research will explore different ways to break boundaries between hydrological, environmental and cultural factors affecting indigenous peoples in the Fitzroy River Catchment. She will use various participatory methods, such as in-depth interviews and participatory 3-D mapping workshops, to help achieve her goal to increase communication between indigenous and nonindigenous people and create protocols for working with indigenous communities all over the world.

Hanna Downing

Hanna Downing, a Will Rice College senior, will serve as a Fulbright English-language teaching assistant to elementary and middle school students in Taiwan for one year. A double major in Asian studies and policy studies, Downing will work with a certified local English teacher to prepare lesson plans and teach students. She said she is eager to learn more about the Taiwanese education system and is looking forward to engaging within the Taiwanese education system as seen   through the eyes of the individuals who are impacted most. In addition to sharing American culture with Taiwanese students, she will also further advance her Mandarin language skills. Through educational and cultural exchanges, Downing will develop close relationships with students, teachers and community leaders in an effort to understand what educational betterment looks like for students around the world. After her year in Taiwan, she will attend law school and continue to explore the intersection between law, policy and education.

Camila Kennedy

Camila Kennedy, a Jones College senior, will work as an English-language teaching assistant in Mexico for nine months. Mexico’s Fulbright Commission and the Secretaría de Educación Pública will assign Kennedy to a public school, where she will assist permanent instructors with classroom curriculum and extracurricular language activities. In addition to her teaching role, Kennedy will work on a multimedia project focusing on the varied experiences of going back to Mexico, from voluntary return migration to forced deportation. She hopes to recruit students and other teachers to be involved in the project.

Benjamin Morris

Benjamin Morris, a Rice graduate student, will study with Professor Helge Sunde at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway, for 10 months. Morris will study music composition privately with Sunde and will conclude his studies by composing a full-length work for jazz and classical fusion ensemble to be performed in Norway and the United States. Morris will write an accompanying paper and blog and edit together a short video that will serve as a document of the process of composing the work and the collaborations that will take place at the academy.While in Oslo, Morris will also compose for student ensembles at the academy, perform with other musicians, interview student composers and performers, attend a variety of concerts and teach in the community.

Cyrus Ghaznavi, a Sid Richardson College senior, was also offered a Fulbright grant but declined the offer because he was named a 2017-2018 Luce Scholar.

 The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 and named for William Fulbright, who served more than 30 years in the U.S. Congress and had the longest tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the exchange program bearing his name. For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit www.cies.org.

About Kendall Schoemann

Kendall Schoemann is a staff writer in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.