Steven Darian Fulbright

FulbrightsSteven Darian, Professor emeritus at Rutgers University, has sent in a description of his Fulbright experience in Uzbekistan, 1997-1998. Details follow.

Steven DarianThe Fulbright was for someone to teach courses in management at the Tashkent Institute of Finance. I had a keen cultural interest in Central Asia, but my Ph.D. was in Applied Linguistics, & most of my teaching dealt with the English language, with courses like applied linguistics, fiction, & non-fiction writing, I also taught an MBA course in business communication. In my Fulbright application, I stressed the fact that an American business professor teaching in a place like Tashkent would be faced with serious comprehension problems from his students, especially since management has its share of jargon and technical terms. I offered to prepare a book for management students who were also nonnative speakers of English. I was also lucky enough to have had a previous Fulbright, plus several other long-term overseas ESL teaching assignments (in Afghanistan, Saudi, & Indonesia). At any rate, the Fulbright came through, and I arrived in Tashkent with copies of the book (later published as English for Decision-Makers: A Course in Modern Management).

Some benefits to the Institute & my school as well: (1) I was able to work with several professors at the Institute, on the back-&-forth language problems (English-Uzbek) in teaching business; (2) There’s an increasing number of foreign business majors in American universities. I was able to help sensitize business colleagues at my school (Rutgers) to some of the many linguistic challenges faced by foreign students when studying business; (3) Teaching in Tashkent also helped me develop a heightened awareness of those needs as well; and (4) I stayed in touch with several of my Uzbek students, & was able to help place a few of them in American MBA programs.

In addition to the academic benefits to all – the overseas institution and their students, promoting good will, and your home university – you are never quite the same. Living & working in another culture – you never see the world in quite the same way. The experience opens you to things you may never have thought of. You realize how arbitrary your cultural identity is; deeply-embedded, but arbitrary. Apart from my academic research, I’m also a hopeless scribbler, and was able to collect material for an historical novel, set in Samarkand at the time of Tamerlane, & called: The Illuminator, that came out in 2010. Some of the incidents during the tour I was able to use in a travelogue called The Wanderer: Travels & Adventures Beyond the Pale, coming out end of 2018. No space here for examples. The takeaway: The experience can enrich your writing in ways you may never have imagined. And remember: Whatever  else you do on your Fulbright, don’t forget to keep a diary.

In addition, he’s sent in a description of his 2001 Fulbright in the Ukraine:

This report is about my Fulbright to Ukraine, back in 2001, that turned out to be…a truly life-changing experience. In Kyiv, I taught at the Institute of Linguistics & Management, and at Shevchenko University. During that year, I also collaborated with my colleague Olga Ilchenko, from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Which resulted in two books: one on Technique in Creative Writing (fiction). The other, that we called IMPACT: Writing for Business, Technology, & Science. I also had the great good fortune to meet my future wife Tanya, who has accompanied me on several other long-term assignments, to Turkey and China.

What is Kyiv like? Perhaps this will give you a taste of it:

Blue neon domes glowing in a pomegranate sky. Gold and silver turbans wrapped about the cupolas of another age. From a time when men the color of leather thundered down upon the sacred sated cities of Christendom. Turning them to ashes with their mangonels and fire arrows. And in one of these cities, I wait, and contemplate: sundials and hourglasses, sextants and astrolabes. All the acolytes of time. And space. And I search for your face, among the faded ruins of mosaics offered to an ancient god. I lie in wait for shadows, that escape me, and disappear into the sun — the home of shadows.

Come to me, with the apple-scented roundness of the morning. Draped in the gold and silver of another age. Come to me across the steppes, riding on a Mongol pony. And I will devour you with my fire arrows. In the flight of silver birds. And the chants of devotees, offered to an ancient god. Bathe me in sweet shadows. Walk with me through ruined cities, and I will turn them all to life, and the darkness into light.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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