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CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
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e-mail: mary-geraghty@uiowa.edu

Release: May 24, 2000

Two UI graduate students win Fulbright Fellowships

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa graduate students have won prestigious Fulbright Fellowships to conduct research abroad. Ned Bertz, a doctoral student in history, and Carrie Messenger, an M.F.A. student in creative writing, were chosen from among more than 4,000 applicants for the approximately 960 grants awarded to students.

Bertz plans to investigate the everyday interactions between Africans and Indians in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. While modern historians have emphasized the racial division, religious exclusion, and political and economic conflict between the two groups, Bertz will concentrate on the daily, street-level contacts between Africans and Indians. Using his command of both Swahili and Hindi, Bertz plans to explore the racially and culturally mixed participation of Tanzanians at the cinema, in the marketplace and at places of worship. He expects to find that most of these contacts are harmonious and productive, in sharp contrast to the politicized racial rhetoric between Africans and Indians found in the conventional historical record.

Messenger plans to live in Romania for a year to conduct research for a short story cycle she hopes to complete, "Why Don't You Come," that uses the events of Romania in 1989 as a focal point. She says her stories will cover the time period immediately before and after the overthrow of Ceacescu from the perspectives of various young people in Romania and abroad. Messenger also hopes to work with contemporary Romanian writers to translate their short stories to English.

Her interest grew out of her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova, where she listened as people described how different their lives were compared to their neighbors' in Romania under communism. "As I lived through two bitter Moldovan winters, I tried to imagine what life was like in Romania in the late '80s during strict rationing of heat, water and electricity," Messenger wrote in her Fulbright application. "The Romania of those times sounded more like a science fiction distopia than a 20th century European nation."

The Fulbright Program is designed to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Annually, approximately 4,500 new grants are awarded through national competitions of students, teachers, scholars and professionals.

At the UI, student Fulbright awards are administered by the Office for Study Abroad. For more information, contact Phil Carls at (319) 335-0353.