Though studying on opposite sides of the world, Eric Wynkoop and Alder Phillips will have a similar connection – a connection beyond Portland State.
Both PSU students, who were awarded grants on Fulbright scholarships for study outside of the United States during the 2006-07 academic year, will be living in areas of political and social unrest.
The Fulbright scholarship program awards 1,200 scholarships each academic year to undergraduate, masters and doctoral students. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and was established in 1946 by Congress.
In Oaxaca City, Mexico, where Phillips will study public administration and policy, Phillips said she has already met important heads from various U.S. and Mexican governments and nonprofit agencies. She said she went to a networking cocktail party at the U.S. ambassador’s house.
Phillips said her goal is to work with two different types of microfinance organizations and to look particularly for the effects of globalization on rural communities. Later, she wants to publish her findings in Mexico and the U.S.
Phillips will have to deal with some difficulty because political demonstrations have left many parts of the city closed. Phillips said the political situation where she will be living is making her work difficult, if not impossible.
”The roads and highways leaving the city were barricaded off and on over the last four months, so many organizations have ceased routine visits to communities where they work until things are resolved. This has meant that my community work is also on hold,” Phillips said. “No one really knows when things might improve, so for now I continue to do networking.”
Debra Clemans, the Portland State adviser for the Fulbright scholarships and the executive assistant of international affairs, said Phillips will have difficulty with her research at first, because she will have to avoid the rioting and demonstrating. “She can’t just walk in and do her research – she has to move around them.”
Clemans said Phillips is fluent in Spanish, has lived in different countries and works with an adviser who is in Mexico with a study abroad program.
Marcus D. Ingle, professor of public administration, said Phillips has a high level of cross-cultural competency.
”Alder typifies a student that is ‘globally aware and globally active.’ She is humble, yet assertive,” Ingle said.
Wynkoop is working to get his visa and waiting for his project to be approved by the Indian government. When he arrives in Mumbai, India, where he will study, he will be using his past specialty as a chef and teacher at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland and love of cultural anthropology to study how religion, caste and socio-economics affect food choices in India.
Wynkoop said he wants to look at how McDonald’s influences food choices in urban India. He also said in India they value family relations and home-cooked meals. He said he will primarily communicate with consumers, restaurant operators and employees of a lunch delivery service for his Fulbright studies.
Wynkoop will have to deal with similar social and political problems as Phillips, such as the bombings in Mumbai in July.
”The train bombings are an unfortunate event and one with a complicated background. But I don’t think it will affect my fieldwork,” Wynkoop said. “That is just one of the risks of doing work in a large urban center.”
Clemans said it is not easy to receive this scholarship.
”Who are your best and brightest, because that is what Fulbright is looking for – people with good ideas of why they want to go overseas,” Clemans said.
For more information on the Fulbright scholarship program visit www.us.fulbrightonline.org