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Public Affairs

Fulbrights awarded to alumnus, staff

October 23, 2006

Two members of the University community have won Fulbright Scholarships that have taken them to Europe for professional development. Alum Christopher Tong has won a Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship. Office of International Programs staff member My Yarabinec is attending a Fulbright seminar on international education.

Christopher Tong
Tong, a playwright and mathematician who earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing in May, has won a Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship for the 2006-07 academic year. Tong is teaching English as a foreign language at a high school in Hamburg, Germany.

Photo of Christopher TongTong, a Hercules resident, is a teaching assistant in a working-class neighborhood home to many immigrant families from other European countries, Africa and Asia. He plans to organize acting exercises and writing workshops to help create a dialogue among students and improve their English skills.

"In a way, I'm a cultural ambassador, and I love this work because all my life I've been trying to bridge the cultures I'm exposed to," said Tong, who earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Stanford University.

"I'm very honored to be representing SFSU and the Bay Area because the Bay Area is a place of tolerance and many cultures."

Tong said he is considering a career as a mathematics teacher or college professor in literature, but doesn't feel ready to commit to a credential or doctoral program. In 2004-05, Tong enjoyed studying abroad in Germany at Universität Tübingen.

"The Fulbright teaching assistantship is a great way to spend a year abroad and still gain work experience in the teaching field," he said.

My Yarabinec
Yarabinec, coordinator for study abroad and international exchange programs, is among two staff members from the 23-campus California State University system attending the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program for International Educators from Oct. 8 to 25 in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Yarabinec is sharing information about study abroad and exchange programs with international colleagues as well as education officials in the two countries. He is also visiting university campuses in Germany and Prague.

Photo of My YarabinecYarabinec, a San Francisco resident who completed a similar Fulbright program in 2000 in South Korea, said this trip allows him to update his knowledge of exchange opportunities in Germany and the Czech Republic.

"This is especially important in the wake of the recent Bologna Accords, which are a framework and timeline for all European institutions of higher education to become more standardized and interactive," Yarabinec said.

He noted that SF State students are actively involved with study in Germany. The campus is among the leaders in the CSU system for participating in German study abroad programs, and SF State welcomes to campus more than a dozen German students and scholars every year.

Two of Yarabinec's colleagues completed similar Fulbright programs in recent years. Office of International Programs Director Yenbo Wu visited Japan in 2003. Study Abroad Adviser Kati Bell visited Germany in 2004.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with additional funding from participating countries and host institutions in the United States and abroad. During its 60-year history, thousands of faculty and other professionals have studied, taught or conducted research abroad, and their counterparts have engaged in similar activities in the United States. More than 1,200 U.S. faculty and professionals will travel to more than 150 countries during this academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

-- Matt Itelson
Photo of Yarabinec courtesy of My Yarabinec


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Last modified October 23, 2006 by University Communications