Anthropology Graduate Student Receives Fulbright Grant to Conduct Research in Lithuania
Frances Harrison, phd candidate
Article Written By: Brendan Zarkower '17
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a nationally competitive, fully funded fellowship that provides recent graduates and graduate students the opportunity to travel abroad to a foreign country to study, conduct research or teach English as a foreign language. Frances Harrison, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Binghamton University, was awarded a Fulbright Student Grant and is currently conducting research in Lithuania.
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Frances comes from the Cape Cod town of Sandwich, Massachusetts. Before becoming a Bearcat, she completed her undergraduate studies at Bridgewater State University in her home state, where she majored in anthropology and geography. Since 2012, she has been pursuing her PhD in social anthropology at Binghamton University. Her research examines militarization in Eastern Europe as a form of security, which she says meshes perfectly with the goals of the Fulbright program:
“The Fulbright Program offers a generous grant for pursuing academic and cultural research abroad, and was particularly designed as a post-war peacebuilding project through promoting informed, cross-cultural exchange and understanding. In this light, it was not only attractive as the financial means to pursue anthropological fieldwork toward my doctorate, but also as particularly relevant for a topic concerning security, militarization and notions of war and peace.”
Frances is currently serving as an Adjunct Research Fellow at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania. During her time abroad, she has had a number of unique and meaningful experiences.
“My favorite experience thus far in Lithuania was going on a spur-of-the-moment trip to the town of Rukla to visit the Refugee Reception Center there,” Frances said. “In Rukla we played soccer and did crafts with kids from Syria, Azerbaijan, and Iraq.”
She said the adjustment process has not been difficult, particularly because of the warm and welcoming nature of the people she has met in Lithuania. Most people are understanding when she struggles to find a word in their language and have been helpful as she has adjusted to everyday life in the country.
“Even in moving to a new city, everyone has been really welcoming and hospitable,” Frances said. “Rather than me having to search high and low for help or answers to the weird questions newcomers have, the staff at the university, and my neighbors have come to [me] instead to make sure I've been adjusting well.”
She also has a few recommendations for the best local foods to try for anyone who plans to visit the country.
“The best treats are karštas vynas - hot wine, and famous Lithuanian donuts – spurgos!” Frances said.
For anyone considering applying for a Fulbright Fellowship themselves, she encourages them to take a leap of faith and apply, even if they have doubts.
“My advice is that with as many doubts as you may have, apply for it anyway,” Frances said. “The Fulbright has a long waiting period, but it is better worth it than to wait until next year when you might be feeling more confident.”