Jessica Swena (2007-04-19). Fulbright Grant Awarded to WWC Teacher (http://collegian.wwc.edu/Local-News/fulbright-grant-awarded-to-wwc-teacher).
Fulbright Grant Awarded to WWC Teacher By Jessica Swena 04/18/07 [News Writer] WWC graduate, English (category) major, teacher and language enthusiast Charis Walikonis has recently been awarded a Fulbright grant to travel and conduct research in [Albania (category)] during the 2007-2008 school years. According to the Institute of International Education, the [Fulbright (category)] program was established in 1946 “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.” The grant will cover tuition and all travel and living expenses for one academic year,” according to Walikonis. This grant will be a way in which the U.S. can be represented to the Albanian people, showing them a desire to gain knowledge, build community and help in any way possible, especially with the drastic human rights needs of Albania. “I am interested in Albania’s post-Communist gender issues, especially the pervasive human trafficking problem. I plan to volunteer, teaching English as a second language, with the Association of Albanian Girls and Women, an organization in Tirana working to help former victims (mostly teenage girls) of enforced prostitution reintegrate into society,” says Walikonis. The grant, which is administered by the state department, can be applied for by a wide range of individuals, and as the applicant pool is so vast, it is rather prestigious to be selected for the awarded grant. Walikonis found inspiration for her quest to Albania based on summer studies in Arizona last year, where she felt a need to study an obscure language. Having previously studied only dead languages, such as Greek, Latin, and Hittite, she decided to learn Albanian because it is currently being spoken. “I’ll be taking classes and doing independent research on the effects of language standardization during the Communist period on the northern Albanian dialect (Gheg).” Walikonis adds, “Besides volunteering, taking classes, and researching, I’m most looking forward to the experience of cultural and linguistic immersion. I’ve studied several languages, but I’m not fluent in any spoken language and have not studied abroad extensively. I plan to do graduate study in [linguistics (category)], so this year abroad will be invaluable to my preparation.” It will be an adventure for Walikonis; so far she only knows three people in the whole country, two students from Arizona State, and her former professor who is an Albanian native. Not only that, but she will be spending nine months in a place that has been “rated the most corrupt country in the world.” Albania lies north of Greece across the little sea on the coast, and it’s climate is mainly temperate, though the bordering mountains close by create unique weather patterns at times. Walikonis will spend this summer in Arizona, brushing up on her Albanian language comprehension before her expedition over there in September. She says, “Albanian has many unique features, including disputed origins, isolationism, and Communist attempts to homogenize the dialects that make it essential to Indo-European linguistic studies; but especially in the U.S., scholarship of the language is underrepresented.”