Two From PSU Named Fulbright Scholars

April 20th, 2007 by Adam

Plymouth State University’s art gallery director and a graduate student are heading overseas as recipients of prestigious Fulbright scholarships.

Catherine Amidon, director of PSU’s Karl Drerup Gallery, received a traditional Fulbright Scholarship, which is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Alison Charbeneau, a PSU graduate student, was recently chosen for the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program (JFMF).

“We are pleased and proud that Ms. Charbeneau and Dr. Amidon have been named as Fulbright Scholars,” said Dr. Julie Bernier, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “It is a wonderful reflection on Alison and Catherine and their scholarly pursuits.”

“A goal of the Fulbright program is to create a shared opportunity for enrichment of the political, economic, social, and cultural lives between the scholars and those they meet and work with while living in their new communities. In return, they will enrich our community upon their return to Plymouth State University,” said Bernier.

Amidon leaves for Jamaica next January and will teach at the Edna Manley School of Arts and work at the National Gallery of Art in Kingston.

“I have been doing research and curating exhibitions about Jamaican culture for almost ten years, yet have not had the opportunity to live in Jamaica for a longer period of time that would allow for focused research, as well as greater personal engagement with the culture,” said Amidon.

“The Fulbright allows me a bit of a break from the more administrative aspects of my current position to research, write and teach for a semester.”

According to the Fulbright organization, Amidon was selected “because of her academic and professional accomplishments and leadership potential.”

Amidon is anxious to bring her Jamaican experience back to Plymouth. “There will be increased opportunities for partnerships and cross-cultural exchanges between PSU and several Jamaican institutions,” said Amidon.

This is not Amidon’s first Fulbright experience. In 1994, she studied for six weeks in the post-Soviet Baltic states and Russia as part of a Fulbright Program.

Amidon received a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of New Hampshire, then master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Amidon has extensive experience as an art professor, curator, archivist, researcher and gallery director.

Charbeneau is eager to immerse herself in the culture of Japan and bring the experience back home to the Belmont, N.H. Middle School, where she is an eighth-grade language arts teacher.

“I think that personal experiences can help classroom lessons come alive,” she said.

>According to Charbeneau, her upcoming trip to Japan is a culmination of a longtime goal that started in a junior high classroom.

“My seventh-grade teacher spent time in Japan, and I still remember many things that she shared with us about Japanese culture,” said Charbeneau. “My interest in Japan started there. I am very committed to delivering instruction in the best ways possible to my students. I expect to learn a lot about the culture.”

In addition to teaching language arts at Belmont Middle School, Charbeneau chairs the language arts curriculum committee and directs the drama program at Belmont High School. Charbeneau was also a fellow in the Plymouth Writing Project and is a founding co-director of the Plymouth Writing Project summer camps for young writers.

“I expect that my experiences in Japan will have a direct impact on my various roles in the district,” said Charbeneau, who leaves for Japan June 10.

Charbeneau earned a master’s degree in English education with a concentration in teaching writing from PSU’s College of Graduate Studies in 2003, and is currently enrolled in PSU’s Educational Leadership program.

“As far as PSU preparing me, I have been fortunate to work with Meg Petersen and Katherine Min in the English department,” said Charbeneau. “Both of these professors have always stressed cultural awareness and respect for diversity.”

According to Petersen, this is an exciting and enriching opportunity for Charbeneau.

“I believe it is crucial for teachers to learn about other cultures and travel which includes immersion in another culture is the ideal way to do this,” said Petersen. “I am sure that Alison and her students will benefit immeasurably from this experience.”
The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program, sponsored by the Government of Japan, provides American primary and secondary school teachers and administrators with fully-funded short-term study tours of Japan. The program is designed to increase understanding between the people of Japan and the United States by inviting U.S. elementary and secondary educators to visit Japan and share their experiences with fellow Americans upon their return. The program is now in its 11th year.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775