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North Park University Student Aaron Nilson Receives Fulbright Scholarship

Aaron Nilson at North Park University

Nilson will teach English in Brazil and acquaint students with U.S. culture

CHICAGO, IL (January 6, 2011) – North Park University announced today that student Aaron Nilson, from Seattle, Washington, received a Fulbright scholarship, becoming the fifth North Park University student to receive the prestigious honor in the past four years. The Fulbright Scholarship Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Nilson is one of twenty Fulbright English teaching assistants who will travel to Brazil for the 2011 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. As part of his award, Nilson will begin a nine-month assignment in Brazil that will begin in February with a five-day training session in São Paulo. He will then be assigned to either a bi-national center or a teacher’s college, where he will teach English and acquaint students with U.S. culture.

As a Spanish and Global Studies double major, Nilson is immersed in both the language and history of Latin America. He also began taking Portuguese classes last September, pursuing a particular interest in Brazil. This range of experiences he gained through his education at North Park equipped him to be a strong candidate for the Fulbright, while also expanding his thinking.

“These programs at North Park University have afforded me the opportunity to learn Spanish and to study abroad in Mexico. They have also permitted me to consider broader themes uniting the different people of the world linguistically, religiously, economically, and politically,” said Nilson. “As Brazil has quickly become a major partner in the global economy, world politics, and other events, it has one of the most exciting futures in the world. Hosting both the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016, it will continue to grow as an important actor in world affairs.”

“His experience in Brazil could potentially lead to his involvement in these exciting upcoming international events,” said Dr. Linda Parkyn, the North Park University Spanish professor who has coached numerous promising students, including Nilson, through the Fulbright process.

Nilson’s work with refugees and immigrants through the Heartland Alliance, a Chicago-based human rights organization, was key to his Fulbright selection. It taught him the importance of the global community and the necessity of open communication between the citizens of the world. As he helped newcomers transition to their new culture in the U.S., he discovered the importance of alleviating miscommunication and misconceptions, and attempted to be an American who was “gracious, to replace any negative encounter with a positive one.” Dr. Parkyn said that “as an emissary of American life and culture, he will share his language and culture while learning a third one. He will represent North Park University as he seeks to do justice wherever he is in Brazil.”

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit http://fulbright.state.gov or contact James A. Lawrence, Office of Academic Exchange Programs, (202) 632-3241 or at fulbright@state.gov.