Fulbright Scholar Headed to Indonesia

Aug 08, 2006
Humboldt State University 2002 alumna Melissa (Lisa) Baughn won a distinguished Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in the Republic of Indonesia as part of her graduate study at Humboldt State's sister school, California State University, Northridge.

Key international experiences while earning a bachelor's degree from HSU's Department of Geography spurred Baughn's love of world culture and helped launch her on the high road to Fulbright success. In particular she credits HSU lecturer Anthony Rossi, also an alum, who regularly leads a group of Humboldt State students on summertime field work to several Asian countries. His leadership embodies the outside-the-classroom education that HSU emphasizes across its full interdisciplinary curriculum.

In Baughn's words, "Tony Rossi's course on-location in China and Tibet opened my mind to a new view of myself as an American, and gave me a fresh perspective and awareness of the cultural, political, and economic differences between America and other countries. Ultimately, it created a desire to continue learning about different cultures and systems, as well as both the disadvantages and benefits of global interdependence."

"Seeing China and Tibet through my own eyes gave me the advantage of forming a dimension of my own world view through personal experience," she added.

On completion of a cultural training course in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, she will serve as an English Teaching Assistant at a public high school in Depok, a college city just outside Jakarta in West Java. Indonesia's literacy rate is 87.9%, according to the latest United States government figures.

A gigantic chain of more than 17,000 islands on the equator, Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population (88% of 245.5 million people) and Baughn is enthusiastic about the culture. "Fulbright has given me an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the essence of Islamic religion and society, something I feel is crucial to understanding world affairs at this time," she remarked.

The HSU grad is equally enthused about the people she meets. "Indonesians are very open to sharing their lifestyles and culture with Westerners like myself and are friendly and welcoming," she says. "I look forward to gaining insight into why Muslim lifestyles work for people here, their desires for the future of their country, and, of course, making lifelong friends across the globe."

Professor Joe Leeper, chair of HSU's Department of Geography, says Baughn is an excellent scholar, consummate team player, and an urbane good will ambassador for the United States. "You give her an assignment, you know it will be done on time and in a thorough, polished fashion. She relishes seeing new places, meeting new people and trying to interpret and understand the tapestry of the world's physical and cultural landscapes."

For more information, call Professor Leeper at 707/826-3945.