I received training from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe-Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) as a short-term International Election Observer for the December elections. Working in the Mykolayiv Oblast paired with an embassy staff member and a translator, on a bone-chilling Christmas day I made pre-election poll visitations in preparation for Election Day, 26 December—truly among the most memorable experiences of my life. I could not help but compare the unfolding events with the difficult revolutions of the 1960s in our country and was comforted by Orange Revolution’s nonviolent outcome. The Fulbright Yearbook 2004 is chock-full of inspirational and informative accounts of six Fulbrighters’ active involvement in the heady activities of the Revolution. Having experienced the Revolution, I was eager to continue my work in Ukraine so that I could continue observing the forces of change. I requested an extension of my award and fortunately was able to return to Mykolayiv during the fall semester of 2005. I truly relished my work during this extended assignment, for I felt seasoned, familiar, and surer than ever that African American literature is not only appreciated but also important to the curriculum of some of the universities in Ukraine. I know that the books I had previously donated to Petro Mohyla Mykolayiv’s library are not collecting dust, because my colleagues in the Philology Department are actively encouraging students to include books by African American writers as topics for their major papers. The warm reception I received from colleagues for whom I lectured in Lviv and Horlivka was a reminder of the kindness shown by colleagues in Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk in 2004, as was the generosity of staff in the American Embassy’s Public Affairs Office who hosted me for a two-part lecture series in Kyiv, one for students and the other for faculty. I also had an opportunity to lecture beyond my discipline to first-year law students on the legal case of Brown vs. Board of Education, a timely topic given its 50th anniversary celebration last year as well as the national honors accorded Rosa Parks upon her recent death, in celebration of her legacy in the United States civil rights movement.
California for the spring semester 2006. I am confident that CSUS faculty and students alike will enjoy hearing her lecture on her research and teaching of African American literature in Ukraine. In no small measure, the success of my Fulbright experience is due to the assistance I received from Director Martha Chomiak and her staff. During my visits to Kyiv, the efficiency of the operations of the Fulbright Office could always be depended upon. Of equal importance to my success was the constant support of my host university’s dean, Alex Pronkevych, department chair, Halyna Zaporozhets, and rector, Leonid Klymenko, who consistently demonstrated that they valued my work. Because of them, my students, the support of Volodymyr Romakin and his staff in the International Program, and the university’s commitment to a balanced American Studies Program, I have decided to donate my collection of African American books to Petro Mohyla Mykolayiv upon my retirement in 2006. To my knowledge, that donation will represent the largest collection of books on African American literature and culture at a Ukrainian university. I am committed to returning to Ukraine because I want to continue working toward establishing a permanent African American literary presence in the country, because I cherish the friendships that I formed among colleagues, students, and local citizens, and because as I read through the many cards and notes of thanks from my students, I am humbled by their generous impressions of me: «Not so many people are blessed to show others the LIFE with their own example. You are one of those... You were very friendly! You have demonstrated to all of us what should be our life’s position... You are a bright example to follow. You’re so dynamic and energetic... We’ll never forget your lectures and smile... You are an angel of education from America... Thank you for your smile and energy you have so generously shared with us... Don’t forget Ukraine and all of us. Come back!» I will not forget Ukraine!
During my tenure in Ukraine, I was privileged to meet many Ukrainian Fulbrighters at two annual Fulbright Conferences where more than 160 current and alumni Fulbrighters attend, present papers, and serve on roundtables and panels. I also got well acquainted with American literature specialists whom I met at conferences hosted by distinguished scholar Tamara Denisova. Within the discipline, African American literature is clearly an emerging field. I have begun professional exchanges with Ukrainian scholars Natalia Vysotska (Kyiv) and Svitlana Pukhnata (Horlivka), both of whom are conducting research in African American literature and actively incorporating African American writers in their American literature courses. I anticipate future collaborative work with them: a first step toward that collaboration is having arranged to host Professor Vysotska at my university in
Published on Jun 18, 2006
The 2005 Yearbook includes a short description of projects for this year by Ukrainian and American Fulbright scholars, which will be useful...