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By Jamie L. Freedman

It’s an extraordinary story of global cooperation. Over the past six decades, a quarter of a million students and scholars from every corner of the earth have forged close personal, professional, and academic ties with one another through the Fulbright Program. Established to promote “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” the program has captured the imagination of scholars throughout the world.

GW’s deep and multifaceted connection to the renowned international exchange program goes back to the program’s prominent founder, the late J. William Fulbright, LLB ’34, LLD ’59. As a GW Law student, the future five-term U.S. senator earned straight A’s, finishing second in his 1934 graduating class. Fulbright taught briefly at the Law School before returning home to Arkansas to embark on his public service career.

At the conclusion of World War II, the young senator shepherded a bill through Congress to establish a government-funded international exchange program aimed at promoting global good will through the exchange of people, knowledge, and skills. The flagship program that bears his name was signed into law by President Truman in 1946, and the first Fulbright scholars went overseas in 1948. Now approaching its 60th anniversary, the Fulbright Program links the people of the United States with their academic and professional counterparts throughout the world, paying huge dividends in the form of international friendships and global harmony.

The program now operates in 140 countries worldwide and boasts more than 260,000 alumni—including some 100,000 Americans who have studied, taught, or conducted research abroad and more than 160,000 scholars from other countries who have engaged in similar activities in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program awards 4,500 grants annually based on academic or professional achievement and leadership potential. GW has participated actively in the Fulbright Program over the years, sending impressive numbers of students and faculty members around the globe to exchange ideas and develop joint solutions to common concerns. The University also has hosted hundreds of visiting international Fulbright scholars, bringing an average of 10 Fulbrighters to Foggy Bottom annually in recent years.

This year, three GW faculty members received prestigious Fulbright Scholarships, joining some 800 U.S. academics and practitioners traveling worldwide for the 2004-05 academic year through the Fulbright Program. One of the faculty members, Associate Professor of Geology Christopher M. Fedo, will soon be departing for Stockholm, where he plans to spend four months examining the earliest surface conditions on Earth in collaboration with the Swedish Museum of Natural History. “I’m incredibly excited about having the opportunity to go abroad and be an ambassador for my science and for our country, and I am looking forward to working with internationally recognized colleagues from around the world,” Fedo says. “The Fulbright will help me obtain a better understanding of the conditions under which life emerged here on earth, as well as look at the possibility of whether life exists somewhere else in the solar system. I’m incredibly thrilled at having been selected.”

GW’s two other 2004-05 faculty Fulbright winners, Professor of Tourism Studies Douglas C. Frechtling and Associate Professor of Marketing Amy K. Smith, completed their Fulbrights just prior to press time and were pleased to share their highlights and insights with GW Magazine.

Frechtling returned to GW in January after spending five months in Ireland as a Fulbright Scholar at the Dublin Institute of Technology School of Hospitality Management and Tourism. “It was rewarding to receive external recognition of my accomplishments and to have the chance to help colleagues at an institution outside the United States,” says Frechtling, who chose to work at DIT—home to Ireland’s largest hospitality management and tourism program—after giving an address there on tourism forecasting in 2002.

In Dublin, Frechtling mentored faculty members and helped them prepare manuscripts for publication in refereed academic journals, presented seminars on tourism research methodologies for master’s and doctoral research students, and gave guest lectures to undergraduates on the economic impact of tourism. The two-time chair of GW’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management also worked with the faculty on research projects and led workshops on tourism and hospitality management trends, issues, and solutions.

During his Fulbright visit, GW tourism professor Douglas C. Frechtling (right), met with Michael Mulvey, the director of the faculty of tourism and food at the Dublin Institute of Technology, to discuss their report on a new marina in Galway Harbour.

An equally satisfying component of Frechtling’s Fulbright grant involved teaming up with Ireland West Tourism, a government financed regional tourism program, on a number of interesting projects, including a pre-feasibility study on building a marina in Galway Harbor. “I’ll be returning to Ireland from time to time to continue working with Ireland West Tourism, as well as with professors who are in the process of publishing articles in refereed academic journals,” Frechtling says. This continuing relationship, he says, is “truly in the spirit of Fulbright.”

The experience was a real highlight of Frechtling’s career. “Not only did I have the opportunity to live in a different country for the first time but to understand firsthand the unique challenges and issues of living in a relatively small island nation in contrast to our very large continental nation,” he says. “It was a wonderful opportunity, and I took a great deal away with me.”

Associate marketing professor Amy K. Smith was drawn to the idea of a Fulbright for similar reasons. Growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, she and her family had little time for vacations, rarely venturing farther afield than bordering states. “This fueled my desire to see new places and experience different cultures,” she says.

Smith’s Fulbright grant took her to the Southwest University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China, where she taught graduate courses in marketing management and services marketing. She also participated in the Fulbright intracountry lecturing program, giving lectures in many cities throughout China, including Guangzhou, Xi’an, and Shanghai to students, the university faculty, and the staff.

Now completing the remainder of her sabbatical year as a visiting research fellow at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, Smith shared highlights of her Fulbright experience with us from “down under.” China, she says, was always near the top of her “most wanted” travel list. “I have long been fascinated by how China’s history, tradition, and culture shaped its management philosophies and business practices,” she says. “Because of China’s recent entry into the World Trade Organization and the fact that it is projected to account for 25 percent of the total world economy by 2025, I am keenly interested in how the country will navigate the economic challenges and societal transformations that are likely to accompany such opportunity and growth.”

Marketing Professor Amy K. Smith with a new friend in Chengdu, China. Located in the Sichuan province, Chengdu is known as the home of the giant panda. A panda reserve and breeding center are located there.

Smith, whose Fulbright project focused on “Helping China’s Future Business Leaders Build Marketing Management Foundations,” was the first Fulbrighter to be hosted by her Chinese university. “My goal was to help China’s future business leaders be able to fully participate and actively compete in the global marketplace by teaching them about the marketing management strategies, tools, and tactics used by their Western counterparts,” she says. “The symbiotic and synergistic relationship that continues to develop between the U.S. and China markets makes mutual understanding of business approaches and marketing techniques both highly relevant and critically important.”

One of the many highlights of Smith’s experience was her Chinese students’ “absolute enthusiasm, their extreme eagerness to learn, their utmost respect and appreciation for education, and their willingness to work very hard.” She was particularly moved by their reaction to the Fulbright-funded textbooks that she gave them. “When I handed them out the first day of class, it was if I had given them a bar of gold!” she recalls. “They were utterly thrilled and treated their textbooks like a prized possession.”

Smith says that she developed many close friendships in China with colleagues and students alike. “I promised some of my students that I would return in the summer of 2006 for their graduation,” she says.

Overall, the experience helped advance both her academic career, as well as her personal horizons. “Serving as a Fulbright Lecturer at a Chinese university improved my scholarly development and professional effectiveness by providing me with international experience as an educator,” she says. “I gained knowledge and experience that will help me to bring new ideas and broader perspectives to the classroom and that will provide me with the opportunity to expand my research to international markets.”

Rounding out this year’s GW Fulbright delegation are eight U.S. Student Fulbright Awardees. They are: Julia M. Booth, BS ’04, who is studying information technology development and access in Morocco; Charita L. Castro, a doctoral candidate in public policy candidate at GW who is studying public health in the Philippines; Nathan L. Converse, BA ’01, an MA in international affairs candidate at GW who is studying anthropology in Ecuador; Nichole L. Devries, BA ’04, who is teaching English in Indonesia; Kristin Eckert, BA ’04, who is studying European Union/Latin American relations in Germany; Kate E. Hill, BA ’04, who is focusing on women’s studies in Vietnam; Kelly J. Keehan, BA ’04, who is teaching English in northern Taiwan, and Nicole S. Petsel, BA ’98, a GW international affairs graduate student who is studying Middle Eastern languages and literature in Egypt.

This year’s Fulbright scholars join a veritable army of GW community members who have been honored with Fulbrights over the decades (see sidebar).

GW Alumni and Students Who Have Received Fulbright Grants 1990-2005*


Barbara Balaj-West, MA ’83, PhD ’97, international affairs, Germany

Stephen Liebowitz, Spain

Tim Sisk, PhD ’92, political science, South Africa


Maria Carillo, JD ’92, law, Dominican Republic

Peter Dernbach, BA ’92, business/management, Singapore

Deanna Glickman, BA ’92, Western European politics, Germany

Christine Keating, MA ’93, women’s studies, Sri Lanka

Kelly Nelson, MPhil ’98, economics, Singapore

Sonja Petersen, MA ’93, international relations, Philippines

Mary Scalia, teaching English as a foreign language, Germany


Kathleen Finn, economics, Benin

Kristin R. McArdel, BA ’92, history, Australia

Bridget A. Williams, MA ’93, East Asian/Pacific/Australian studies, Hong Kong


Eliot M. Goldberg, MA ’96, Middle Eastern languages and literature, Jordan

Amy B. Schmidt, BA ’94, Middle Eastern languages and literature, Jordan


Melanie A. Bielefeld, BA ’95, agriculture, Tanzania

Deirdre A. Gibbons, education, Iceland

Kevin M. Kreutner, BA ’95, MA ’99, MBA ’99, Middle Eastern history, Qatar

Alexander D. Mundt, BA ’95, political science, Uganda

Debra M. Sohm, BA ’95, ecology/environmental studies, Ghana


Gregg C. Bucken-Knapp, PhD ’99, comparative politics, Norway

Bryan R. Daves, MA ’91, Jordan

Frances J. Laidlaw, DSc ’96, engineering, France

Lionel M. Lavenue, MS ’94, Germany

Rashid Miraj, MA ’96, Mauritius

Nicholle K. Warner, MA ’95, international relations, Austria


Ereney A. Hadjigeorgalis, MA ’92, Chile

Sara K. Rankin, BA ’96, Germany

Sharon E. Rogers, MA ’96, women’s studies, Nicaragua

Karen M. Van Eerden, BA ’95, Germany

Kristen M. Walker, BA ’97, anthropology, Chile


Clarissa S. Adamson, MA ’97, MPhil ’98,PhD ’04, anthropology, Indonesia

Xavier Beltran, MA ’98, Western European politics, Spain

Sabina A. Crisen, MA ’98, Eastern European history, Romania

Tracy E. Sayegh, BA ’98, economic development, Syria


Brian J. Finnegan, PhM ’98, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Chile

Susana Molins-Lliteras, BA ’99, literature, Morocco


Annie H. Nguyen, BA ’00, creative writing, Vietnam

Catherine C. Nielsen, MA ’01, history, Austria

Jeremy R. Strozer, BA ’98, MA ’00, international relations, Belgium

Thomas W. Walsh, BA ’99, ecology/environmental studies, Ecuador


Adam B. Carter, MA ’01, international relations, Spain

Margalit T. Murray, MA ’01, Middle Eastern politics, Kuwait

William F. Pore, East Asian/Pacific/Australian history, Vietnam

Sergio D. Yanes, BS ’99, MS ’01, business/management, Mexico


John L. Clark, botany, Ecuador

Jessica D. Lieberman, political science, Jordan

Alexis L. Major, BA ’01, anthropology, India

Kathryn A. Rhine, BA ’02, public health, Nigeria


Gregory F. Domber, Eastern European history, Poland

John A. Donaldson, political science, China

Lee Ann Fujii, political science, Rwanda

Stephanie L. McNulty, political science, Peru

Keith A. Zielenski, MS ’03, engineering management, Germany


Julia M. Booth, BS ’04, information sciences/systems, Morocco

Charita L. Castro, public health, Philippines

Nathan L. Converse, BA ’01, anthropology, Ecuador

Nichole L. Devries, BA ’04, teaching English as a foreign language, Indonesia

Kate E. Hill, BA ’04, women’s studies, Vietnam

Kelly J. Keehan, BA ’04, teaching English as a foreign language, Taiwan

Nicole S. Petsel, BA ’98, Middle Eastern languages and literature, Egypt

*While the Fulbright program existed and GW students participated in the program for many years prior, complete records do not exist for participants before 1990.

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