OGDEN, Utah -- Ron Holt, professor of anthropology at Weber State University, has received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Belarus next spring.
Holt will spend six months teaching two anthropology courses at Grodno University in Grodno, Belarus, a city of 300,000 people located near the borders of Poland and Lithuania.
While Holt has traveled extensively and conducted research overseas, this will be his first trip to Belarus and the first chance to teach a class outside the United States.
"It will give me a chance to brush up on my Russian," Holt said. Belarus, formerly part of the Soviet Union, speaks Belarusian, a unique Eastern Slavic language. In the classroom, Holt will present lectures in English.
Belarus provides an anthropological gold mine for Holt. He is interested in studying the local culture and the influence it's had on the former Soviet state's transition from communism to capitalism in the post-Cold War era.
"So far it has stayed close to its Stalinist roots," Holt said. He said that may be one factor that has hindered Belarus' ability to join the world economy.
Holt said he will include discussions on contemporary politics in his American anthropology course. He also plans to present films and books and discuss their depictions of American life. "There is a great deal of interest in America and the West in that part of the world," he said.
When he returns in June 2004, Holt said he plans to share his experiences in Belarus with his students at WSU.
Since 1986, eight Weber State professors have received Fulbright scholarships, including Holt. He is the second WSU anthropology professor to receive a Fulbright in the last two years. Holt's colleague, Linda Eaton, recently returned to the U.S. after spending the 2002-03 academic year teaching at Charles University in the Czech Republic.
The U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 scholars and professionals each year to more than 140 countries to lecture or conduct research in a variety of academic and professional fields. The late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas proposed the international educational exchange program to the U.S. Congress in 1945 as a vehicle for promoting "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." President Harry S. Truman signed the program into law in 1946.