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Librarian Awarded Fulbright Research Grant to Study in Egypt

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Imagine spending three months in a new, strange and wondrous place. Holly Heller-Ross, associate librarian at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, will have that opportunity when she travels to Cairo, Egypt this spring.

Holly Heller-Ross Heller-Ross was awarded a three-month research grant as a 2006-2007 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Egypt. While in Cairo, she will be affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education, Cultural Affairs Office and will conduct research at the University of Cairo and American University in Cairo from April to June.

Cairo was her first choice, and she is extremely excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It's scary and amazing at the same time," said Heller-Ross. "When I was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship, a sense of obligation fell over me to do really good work so that I will be an excellent representative of not only SUNY Plattsburgh but of the United States of America." 

Heller-Ross chose Cairo for three reasons: the University of Cairo is the largest university for librarianship in the Middle East; American University in Cairo has a large student population that consists of international students; and she had always wanted to go to Egypt.

Her main focus of study in Egypt will be to investigate cross-cultural teaching applications of information literacy. Her research will include the collection of qualitative data on how faculty in Egypt teach information literacy skills and to identify cultural differences in information use that American librarians should be addressing with international students.

She is interested to learn their strategies for teaching students with very different cultural backgrounds. For example, teaching information literacy to students who speak different languages.

"I will be investigating how information is found, evaluated and used across different cultures. I will also be looking for similarities and differences between the teachings of information literacy," she said.

Heller-Ross said that there are many benefits, both professionally and personally, she hopes to gain from this experience.

"It will benefit me professionally by giving me a better understanding of international students," she said. "I am extremely excited about this opportunity to experience the culture and history of Cairo, Egypt."

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The program is sponsored by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the United State Department of State.

Approximately 280,000 scholars have participated in the program since its inception more than 50 years ago. The scholarship is funded by Congress and enables teachers and students, both undergraduate and graduate, to travel in different countries to research in all areas of study. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

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