Recent Loyola University Maryland graduate Mazen Shomali, ’11, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student grant to teach English for 10 months in Macau, China.
Shomali’s grant is one of only seven English Teaching Assistantships available for Macau in the Fulbright program. He will lead classroom instruction for university students for 20 hours per week and organize language-related cross-cultural student activities. Shomali will also complete a research project about the waning use of traditional Chinese eating utensils due to the growing presence of American fast food restaurants.
He learned about the Fulbright through Loyola's national fellowships office and its director, Arthur M. Sutherland, Ph.D., who guided him through the application process.
"All Fulbright awards are difficult to win, but English Teaching Assistantships for Chinese speaking countries are perhaps more difficult than others because China is very much a desired placement and a large number of students apply,” said Sutherland. "One of the keys for success is to show that you are engaged with your host country.”
For Shomali, that engagement began in fall 2009 when he developed a passion for learning Chinese while studying abroad in Beijing. After three more semesters of Chinese classes the Baltimore native fulfilled the requirements to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship, a summer session of intensive, group-based language and cultural instruction for U.S. undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Just weeks before winning the Fulbright, Shomali found out that he had been awarded the Critical Language Scholarship for an upcoming summer semester at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
“I really see that learning the language is such a key element to understanding another person’s culture, and it’s the first step in building a friendship,” said Shomali, who received his bachelor’s in international business the same week he won the Fulbright.
And Shomali is not the only Loyola student who can tout a recent prestigious award. Jonathan Berman, ’13, received a William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to study in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Each semester, the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship gives up to 10 U.S. undergraduate students the opportunity to study at the American University in Dubai (AUD). The scholarship was established through a partnership between AUD and the William J. Clinton Foundation in an effort to expand scholars’ educational and cultural horizons on a campus where more than 80 nationalities are represented. Berman, too, discovered this opportunity through the national fellowships office.
Berman, a 19-year-old sophomore and ROTC cadet from Newton, Mass., is pursuing a double major in political science and history and spent the 2011 spring semester at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. He studied politics in Istanbul, Turkey for a week as part of his DIS course load, but that’s the only time he’s been to the Middle East. Berman is confident his classes and immersion in Dubai will help him develop a unique and marketable understanding of the region, which he says will prove invaluable as he works toward his goal of assuming a leadership role in the military or the private sector.
“It’s such a unique experience to actually live in the Middle East and study there,” said Berman, who traveled directly to Dubai from Denmark on May 5 to start his summer session.
Berman wants to focus on either the Judge Advocate General or Military Intelligence path for his military commitment after Loyola.
Shomali’s next step will be real-world work experience or an international relations graduate program, but ultimately he wants to work for the U.S. Department of State and help build and bolster U.S. relations with China.
Both accolades have thrilled Sutherland, who wants Shomali and Berman’s success to set a precedent.
"At this point we have almost thirty students on track to apply for [a Fulbright] next year,” Sutherland said. “I am hopeful that each will be as successful as Mazen."
Pictured right: Mazen Shomali, '11.
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