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Outstanding American students arrive

28 June 2011

Fulbright2011 WEBThe First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones with (right) Professor Jonathan Osmond. Behind them are (left to right) Jordan Shapiro (University of Rochester), Alyssa Hartman (Ball State University), Jacob Peters (Northwestern University), Angela Edwards (Seattle University), Kathryn Cannon (Illinois Wesleyan University), Catherine Yu (Carnegie Mellon University), Michael Borchetta (Northwestern University), Ila Jones (University of South Florida)

Eight of the USA’s brightest students are being introduced to the culture, history, politics and landscape of Wales through a pioneering new Summer Institute.

The prestigious US-UK Fulbright Commission has appointed Cardiff, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities to run the first Wales Fulbright Summer Institute. The visiting students will learn about Welsh culture, history, politics and geography and the crucial influence industry has had on the nation’s events, places and people. Over six weeks, they will travel the country, meeting people and visiting some of the key locations which have made Wales such a diverse and distinctive country.

The students have just started their first two weeks at Cardiff, where they will investigate economic and industrial change in the South Wales Valleys and the coastal ports over the past three centuries, asking questions about Welsh culture, identity and language. At Bangor they will then explore the impact of such industries as tourism, slate mining and highland agriculture, and how a small nation can maintain its identity in a global era. Finally, at Aberystwyth University they will look at Wales and its relationships with the wider world and begin to think about different ways Wales is facing up to the challenges of the future.

The eight undergraduates have been competitively selected from Universities spanning the USA, from Seattle to South Florida. They were welcomed to Wales at a special reception in the Senedd by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones. The First Minister stressed the historic links between Wales and US and wished the students an enjoyable and memorable stay.

Cardiff’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Students, Professor Jonathan Osmond, also welcomed the students and thanked the Fulbright Commission for creating the Institute. Penny Egan, Executive Director of the Commission, told the students: "I hope you will become ambassadors for the Universities here, and put Wales more firmly on the map as a fantastic place to come and study."

One of the students, Jordan Shapiro from Vermont, majoring in History at the University of Rochester, said: "I feel honoured to be a part of this. Everyone has been really welcoming and I just can’t wait for the next few weeks. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn about the history of Wales, and to see it and experience it in the places where it all happened."

Each section of the course will involve academic coursework, drawing on the internationally-recognised research and teaching specialisms of all three universities. The students will also attend cultural events and visit historic sites to gain an understanding of the distinctive regions of Wales.

Course Director for the Cardiff University section, Dr Bill Jones from the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: "It is a major coup for Wales to have secured a Summer Institute with an organisation as prestigious as the Fulbright Commission. This is a highly talented group of students and I’m sure they will provide fresh insights into the way industry has shaped the culture, history, politics and landscape of Wales. They will also gain an understanding of the distinctive regions and people who make up our fascinating country."

The Fulbright Commission has been promoting peace and cultural understanding through educational scholarships for more than 60 years. The UK Summer Institutes are a new initiative, designed to introduce students to the United Kingdom, while also developing their academic skills and encouraging leadership. On their return to the USA they will become ambassadors for studying in the UK.