Fresno State has three 2017 Fulbright recipients, all of whom are from the College of Arts and Humanities. Two faculty members and a student have won the prestigious awards, which will take them to other parts of the world.
Alice Daniel, a lecturer in the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism, and her husband, Dr. Benjamin Boone, a professor in the Department of Music, have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants and will travel with their teen-aged sons to the University of Ghana to teach and do research during the 2017-18 academic year.
Tegan Jones, who recently completed her bachelor’s degree with a major in English and a minor in German literature and folklore from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, received a Fulbright Student Award and will spend the next year in Berlin, Germany, working as an English teaching assistant.
When Daniel was in high school, her father, a noted biologist, received a Fulbright to teach zoology at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Going there with her family changed her life.
“We went to an international school there and befriended people from all over the world, people with whom I still keep in touch,” Daniel said. “That year still stands out as one of the very best of my life. … The experience was pivotal and it gave me a love of travel and a desire to learn more about the world.”
Daniel and Boone wanted that same kind of transformative experience for their two sons, ages 15 and 13.
Boone, who recently received Fresno State’s 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the University’s top teaching award, will teach students at the University of Ghana music theory, composition and improvisation. The research component of Boone’s work will be collaborating with Ghanaian musicians on the composition and performance of new music.
“West Africa is where the blues and western popular music have their roots. Being able to go back to the source of one of the musics that I love is deeply intriguing to me. In my dissertation I analyzed the speech of early blues performers, and I found a correlation between blues music and the speech of West Africans speaking English. That’s probably one of the ways that the blues came about — there’s something called ‘blue notes,” which are inflected notes that are idiomatic to blues music, and I found that in that speech. It will be interesting for me to hear the speech and the indigenous music and hear what links there are to blues and jazz music.”
While in Ghana, Daniel will teach radio broadcasting and print journalism at the University of Ghana, the oldest and largest university in the western African nation located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the city of Accra.
Her research will focus on working with students to produce an oral history of radio broadcast journalists who were present and working during the transition in Ghana to a democratic republic in 1992. Prior to that, from 1982 to 1992, the media lived under a regime in which there was a culture of silence.
“To be a journalist was dangerous because of the newspaper licensing law, which discouraged the establishment of private media and freedom of the press,” Daniel said. “The 1992 Constitution ended more than a decade of military dictatorship, promulgating greater media freedom. And in July 2001, parliament unanimously repealed the Criminal Libel Law. The Media Foundation for West Africa said the law was “inimical” to freedom of the press.
Jones, the Fulbright Student Program finalist, first came to the Fresno State campus at age 14, while she attended University High School. She later returned as an undergraduate.
“This opportunity is so special to me because it truly is a culmination of everything I’ve been studying,” Jones said. “I get to share what I know about the English language and literature, as well as getting to spend time immersed in the German culture that I’ve studied and loved.”
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which works with the Council for International Exchange of Scholars to provide overseas opportunities for faculty and professionals. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the citizens of the United States and the people of other countries through study, teaching and research.
The program is named for Sen. J. William Fulbright (1905-1995), D-Ark., an advocate for international education exchange programs. The Fulbright grants are highly competitive, boasting 310,000 U.S. and foreign scholars from 155 countries around the world, all of whom have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.