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Four MC students headed to Bulgaria for Fulbright institute

Barry McNamara
All four of the Monmouth College students who applied for acceptance into this year’s Fulbright International Summer Institute (FISI) in Bulgaria were accepted.

FISI is an annual summer program run by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission. It has been in place since 2002 and was one of the first of the Fulbright Summer Institutes.

Getting a head start on their academic year will be Lukas Devlin of Rock Island, Sara Frakes of Carthage, Joseph Hasenstein of Peoria and Kaylin Smith of Bolingbrook. The group will depart the U.S. on Aug. 11 for the two-week institute, returning just prior to the start of Monmouth College’s fall semester.

“This is the first time a group of undergraduate students from a college has been accepted into FISI as a cohort,” said Bren Tooley, MC’s associate dean of academic affairs. “They will take Fulbright Institute classes with students from across Europe and beyond.”

Most of the intensive courses are one week in length, but a few of them span both weeks of the institute, including a course on Bulgarian culture. Students may take up to three courses each week, and each course meets daily in a time block of two hours and 45 minutes.

“I am very excited about being granted the opportunity to travel and study abroad,” said Devlin. “I look forward to furthering my personal and professional development, and I believe this experience will be one that leaves an imprint on me for the rest of my life.”

“We are very proud of each one of our accepted students,” said Tooley. “This is a significant honor and will, I’m sure, be a transformative and enjoyable educational experience. Bulgaria is beautiful, as well as culturally and historically fascinating.”

Tooley speaks from experience, as she was a Fulbright Scholar there in 2010, teaching and conducting research at the University of Veliko Turnovo. She will also be a part of FISI, teaching a course with her Veliko Tarnovo colleague Ludmila Kostova, chair of the university’s department of English and American Studies.

In addition to teaching one of the courses, Tooley was also part of the planning process for FISI, attending a Euroacademia conference in May titled “Reinventing Eastern Europe.”

“It was valuable preparation for the Fulbright Institute, as the panel originated as a gathering of scholars to reflect upon the books we’ll be teaching in August,” she said. “We invited colleagues from Germany, Italy and Romania who are doing interesting work with other Eastern European authors.”

Tooley presented a paper at the conference as part of a panel on literary representations of Eastern Europe. The conference proceedings will soon be published.