Dr. Jennifer Miskec’s face lights up and she gets visibly animated when she starts talking about the Fulbright Program and the valuable international connections she has made over the past three years.
Miskec, professor of children’s and young adult literature at Longwood, was a Fulbright Scholar to Croatia in the spring of 2019. This past spring she spent four weeks in Canada through the Fulbright Specialist Program, and she’s already planning her next trip back to Croatia in summer 2024 through the same program.
“It’s an academic exchange, but also a cultural exchange,” Miskec said. “It’s about building relationships between countries and connecting academics around the world.”
It’s an academic exchange, but also a cultural exchange. It’s about building relationships between countries and connecting academics around the world.Dr. Jennifer Miskec, professor of children’s and young adult literature Tweet This
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide. Miskec said some countries, such as England and Germany, have large programs. The program in Croatia is much smaller, comparatively.
As a Fulbright Scholar in 2019, Miskec spent January to July in Zagreb doing research and teaching a children’s literature class. She visited high-school classrooms, libraries and people’s homes.
“My family is Croatian two generations back, so we’ve always had a connection there and to that culture,” she said. “This was my dream come true that I got to live there.”
Through the Fulbright Specialist Program, Miskec spent four weeks at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, this past spring. She co-taught undergraduate and graduate children’s literature classes and mentored graduate students. She was able to help the university with its new master’s program in children’s literature, and she has been invited to come back every other summer as a visiting professor for the program.
Fulbright Specialists go on shorter visits, and the grant program is designed to foster ongoing relationships between the organizations and the specialists. Miskec was accepted onto the Fulbright Specialist roster in 2019, and her term is up in 2025. She also serves as a judge for the Fulbright Scholar program.
These Fulbright programs are allowing me to make international connections and do research that I never could have done otherwise.Dr. Jennifer Miskec, professor of children’s and young adult literature Tweet This
Through Miskec’s connections and the Fulbright Specialist Program, Longwood was able to host Dr. Željka Flegar from the University of Osijek, based in Osijek, Croatia, in the fall semester of 2021. She conducted research while at Longwood and worked with Miskec and other professors on classroom lessons that included theater improv, discussions of Croatian fairy tales and her own first-person experiences as a war refugee.
Flegar’s visit resulted in Longwood’s establishing a bilateral agreement with the University of Osijek, which will allow for faculty and student exchanges and other collaborations. Through the Fulbright Specialist Program, Miskec is scheduled to spend six weeks at the University of Osijek in the summer of 2024, where she’ll be co-teaching with Flegar and conducting research. Miskec and Flegar are also working on a book together.
“These Fulbright programs are allowing me to make international connections and do research that I never could have done otherwise,” Miskec said. “I’ve built relationships that have given me access to things I would never have on my own. That’s what Fulbright is about—creating these opportunities and connections.”
Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional development, demonstrated leadership in their field and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
Miskec also spent two weeks in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to do research through a Longwood faculty research grant. While there she met with the country’s Fulbright liaison.
Miskec’s international connections and experiences trickle down to her students in myriad ways. One of the books she uses in her classes is World in Between, which is about a Muslim boy’s experience fleeing war-torn Bosnia. Miskec said her time in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina helps her to better understand the material she teaches about the Homeland War.
“I bring my experiences into the classroom, absolutely,” she said. “I’ve never been a refugee. But this is giving me insight into their experience that I hope to pass along to the students and talk about in a deeper, more meaningful way.”
She has also been spreading the word about this professional opportunity around Longwood and encouraging her faculty colleagues to apply to the Fulbright Program.
“Once you get involved in the Fulbright network, there are all of these opportunities that present themselves if you are open to it,” Miskec said. “It really is an honor, and I’m very proud of it.”