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Fulbright Grants Enable Seniors to Expand Research

Nancy D. Nguyen

Tobias Smith

Two Oberlin seniors who traveled to Asia to conduct research as undergraduates will expand their work next year with the assistance of the major Fulbright grants they've recently been awarded.

Nancy D. Nguyen, a second-generation Vietnamese American from Houston, Texas, went to Vietnam in January 2002 under a Shansi-in-Asia study grant to understand and experience the language and culture firsthand.

This fall, the history and creative writing major will return and broaden her focus. Dividing her time between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, she will explore the work of women writers, journalists, and activists during the French colonization and the war against France (1945-1954) in the country's national archives.

"I am very thankful for this opportunity to access materials not available in the United States," she says. "I am particularly looking forward to working with Vietnamese historians and a new generation of young, post-age Vietnamese like me."

Tobias Smith was born in Osaka, Japan, the son of East Asian scholars, and lived in a number of countries in that region as a child. An East Asian studies and philosophy major, he attended a Buddhist immersion program at a monastery in Taiwan the summer after his sophomore year. He was invited to return and help direct the program the next summer, and he became interested in the order's history.

"A Shansi-in-Asia study grant allowed me to delve into the beginnings of the group," he says. "The discovery that their roots lie in early 20th-century China sparked my interest and led to my applying for the Fulbright."

Smith will live and study at Fudan University in Shanghai, immersing himself in three things he loves—"Mandarin Chinese, Buddhism, and books," he says.

"I intend to visit historic monasteries in the region and research the life and work of several progressive Chinese monks who were active in the early 1900s."

An international educational program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education, the Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those from other countries. The program has provided more than 250,000 participants with the opportunity to study and teach in other countries, exchange ideas, and develop joint solutions to shared concerns.

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