Archive: On The Green
 
Issue: June 24, 2005 - Vol. 35 No. 17

Fulbright grant; Scholar - in - Residence Program

Emily Steinberg

The plight of pregnant deaf women in Ireland, who often lack access to proper prenatal care, will be researched this fall by a new Gallaudet alumna. Thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, Emily Steinberg, who received her master’s degree in deaf studies last month, will conduct independent research for two semesters, beginning this fall, on this marginalized group. Her studies will be coordinated through the Center for Deaf Studies at Trinity University in Dublin.

On a related note, the Fulbright Scholar - in - Residence Program (SIR) competition for the 2006-2007 academic year has opened. The program enables institutions to apply for awards to host visiting lecturers from abroad to teach at the undergraduate level for a semester or academic year. The deadline for this competition is October 14.

Women’s issues, particularly as they relate to pregnancy, have historically been influenced by Ireland’s conservative religious and political ideologies, said Steinberg. Women’s options regarding birth control or abortion have been limited or nonexistent, and the availability of prenatal care, particularly to pregnant women in rural areas, is rare, she added. The situation is compounded for deaf women. Steinberg explained that education systems have been mainly oral, and qualified interpreters are lacking. “With no birth control and no information provided in sign language, deaf Irish women have had no choice but to have many children,” she said. Steinberg hopes that by interviewing deaf Irish mothers and expectant mothers, she will be able to document their experiences and create awareness that will lead to better services for them.

Steinberg credits the Fulbright program for helping her decide on a course of action following graduation. “I wanted to contribute to the (deaf studies) field, and when I found out about the Fulbright in deaf studies, I thought it would be a bad idea to pass up the opportunity.”

Gallaudet graduate students have received Fulbright scholarships to focus on sign language research, sign language teaching, interpreter training, and deaf education in Italy (since 1986) and Ireland (since 1999). In addition, students have secured Fulbrights to other countries. The scholarships offer the recipients opportunities for personal development, academic enrichment, and international experience by living and working in a host country.

Steinberg decided on her study in Ireland after contacting the Center for Deaf Studies and asking what type of projects it was interested in having undertaken. After reviewing her background, they mutually decided on this particular women’s health care issue. The stipend of approximately $18,000 will support Steinberg’s research plus provide her living expenses for the nine-month study.

Steinberg encourages other Gallaudet students and recent graduates to apply to the Fulbright program. Regarding her own profession, she feels that the Fulbright grant “will help us broaden the field so that deaf studies is not just an American field but become an international discipline.”

“The programs in Italy, Ireland, and other countries have proven to be very valuable both to scholarship recipients and to the host countries as horizons are broadened for everyone involved,” said Dr. Ceil Lucas, a professor in the Department of Linguistics and one of three Fulbright liaisons on campus. Lucas said that the deadline for application for 2006 Fulbright scholarships is October 3. Because of the long-standing relationships between Gallaudet and the Italian and Irish deaf communities, applicants for Italy and Ireland are then screened by a campus committee which then makes recommendations to the Fulbright agency; applicants to other countries are not screened. Interested students may go to www.iie.org/fulbright/us to initiate the application process. For specific information, students should contact either Lucas or the University’s other Fulbright liaisons, Dr. Marilyn Sass - Lehrer in the Department of Education, or Dr. Beth Benedict in the Department of Communication Studies.

The SIR program specifically targets minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and small colleges. According to Gallaudet’s Fulbright representative, ‘Bunmi Aina, director of the Office of International Programs and Services, hosting a scholar-in-residence is an excellent way for colleges and universities to internationalize their curricula, strengthen their linkages with overseas institutions, and promote international scholarship in all disciplines.

To apply for an SIR award, download the Fulbright Guidelines for Scholar - in - Residence Proposals at http://www.cies.org/sir/SIR_Guidelines.pdf, or contact Karen Watts, senior program officer, at kwatts@cies.iie.org, or (202) 686-4004.

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