Zahra Ahmadi and Clifford Long, members of the Arcadia University Class of 2017, are the first undergraduate students in Arcadia University history to earn a Fulbright U.S. Student Award from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Ahmadi and Long were selected for the prestigious English Teaching Assistant award based on their academic and professional achievement as well as their record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.
An International Studies major with a concentration in Middle Eastern and African studies, Ahmadi will spend the 2017-18 academic year serving as an English teaching assistant in Azerbaijan, working with students at the college and university level. She is one of only four applicants selected for this award.
Originally from Afghanistan, Ahmadi hopes to use her own language learning experiences to help students view English as a tool for personal and professional growth. As an undergraduate at Arcadia, Ahmadi also studied Persian in Tajikistan through the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program, and learned Turkish in Istanbul through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
In addition to observing English as a Second Language classes, Ahmadi is preparing to take Azeri language courses and develop cultural exchange activities abroad.
“Given our current political climate, this kind of work is extremely important,” said Ahmadi, who leaves for Azerbaijan at the end of the summer. “Engaging in dialogue can clear up a lot of confusion or misconceptions people may have about the United States.”
A Political Science major with a concentration in International Relations, Long will spend the 2017-18 academic year as an English teaching assistant in South Korea.
Long had previously studied abroad in South Korea for his Preview experience as a first-year student, as well as in 2015 through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. He believes that his experiences in Korea not only provide assistance to those he teaches, but also plays a large role in his cultural understanding and expansion.
“Teaching English in a foreign country serves both parties in two ways: First, it encourages bilingualism and learning about cultures that are different than your own,” said Long. “Secondly, being there provides real cross-cultural engagement for the students as well as the teachers. It helps to bridge cultures and create understanding between them.”
Long is a blogger for the award-winning student blog Because Arcadia, is involved in the University’s campus radio, and is a member of the University’s International Peer Associates League, where he provides support services to international students such as orientation, peer mentorship, and social and cultural programming.
In addition to Dr. Kalenda Eaton, associate professor of English, and Dr. Jennifer Riggan, associate professor of Historical and Political Studies, advancing their research through Fulbright awards, Arcadia welcomed recipients from institutions abroad, and prepared students to represent the United States as cultural ambassadors. Arcadia hosted Olga Banaszkiewicz ’17, recipient of the Becas de Máster en Estados Unidos de América from Fulbright España, and Rebecca Purvis ’17, recipient of a 2015 Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award. Purvis is the first New Zealand student to study Genetic Counseling in the United States.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Each year, U.S. students, artists and early career professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research in over 140 countries throughout the world.