On July 21-26, 2019, the University of Kansas hosted the Fulbright Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) for Europe and Eurasia. This is the largest of the Fulbright PDOs, bringing together new U.S. grantees heading to 22 countries in the region, including 25 of them heading to Ukraine, to be placed all over the country, from Lviv to Kramatorsk. Approximately 235 total Fulbright U.S. Student Researchers, English Teaching Assistants, and Fulbright Scholars participated in the intense week-long workshop, gaining practical information about living and working in a new country, networking with other grantees, and developing skills related to research and teaching. The sessions were led by KU faculty, staff, and advanced graduate students with expertise in the region. They were joined by alumni assisting in the orientation sessions, staffers from the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education, and, for the final day, also by the Fulbright Board.
In the past, these orientations were held at hotel convention spaces in Washington, D.C., but recently they began to be hosted at universities across the country who go through competitive bidding. KU Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, together with the university’s International Affairs office, were successful in their bid for the first ever Europe and Eurasia PDO hosted outside Washington. The selection of KU as the host for this year’s Europe and Eurasia Fulbright Pre-Departure Orientation program is a great honor and a welcome recognition of the depth of expertise and the long-standing commitment to research and teaching of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at KU. We are grateful for this opportunity to showcase our university’s strength in this area and to develop new and fruitful ties with colleagues across the nation and around the world.
Heads of several national Fulbright offices were in attendance, including Marta Kolomayets, head of the Fulbright office in Ukraine. We were especially happy to cooperate with her and other Ukraine-focused members of the Fulbright team, as KU takes pride in its strength in Ukrainian Studies. We have received enthusiastic feedback from attendees and State Dept. and IIE colleagues about the program and our university as the host. KU is also pleased to regularly host Fulbright fellows from Ukraine, including in recent years Fulbright Ukrainian language instructors. This year, the Fulbright fellow helping with Ukrainian language teaching on campus is Tetiana Kidruk. We hope this part of the Fulbright program remains strong and continues growing.
By Vitaly Chernetsky,
Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Director, Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, University of Kansas