UNL graduate Shomos wins Fulbright to conduct research in Albania

Released on 04/25/2013, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., April 25th, 2013 —
Elena Shomos (Photo credit: Elizabeth M. Claffey)
Elena Shomos (Photo credit: Elizabeth M. Claffey)

            University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna and Lincoln native Elena Shomos has received a Fulbright to conduct research in Albania. Shomos graduated from UNL with high distinction in August with a double major in French and global studies. As an undergraduate, she became interested in Albania because of her heritage and her interest in international relations.

            Last year, Shomos was funded by a David L. Boren scholarship to pursue a yearlong, self-designed study abroad program at the University of Korca in Albania. There, she took additional formal language courses, improving her fluency in Albanian, and talked to locals about the importance of democratic civic education in the community.

            She will be building upon this research for her Fulbright, through which she will conduct a qualitative case study of the Center for Democratic Citizenship Education, a multi-year project designed to promote democracy in Albania through the country's educational system.

            Shomos will research the impact of the center's teachings and resources upon the community in Korca. She will use focus groups and visit schools to look for the application of democratic skills taught by the center such as conflict resolution, consensus and rational dialogue in the community in a variety of age groups. Her long-term goals include helping with Albania's transition to embrace social expectations of western democracies in a post-communist country.

            Albania has never been far from her mind, Shomos said, even as she sought connections with other Albanian students while studying abroad in Bologna, Italy, and Besancon, France, where she joined a tight-knit community of Albanian students.

            "Through these friendships, I gained a deeper understanding of Albanian culture and history, and I never missed an opportunity to discuss my peers' perspectives on national identity and perceptions of Albania's current needs," Shomos said.

            "Elena is one of those students who has found her calling. Her enthusiasm and dedication made her stand out in this extremely competitive scholarship process," said Laura Damuth, UNL's Fulbright Program adviser, who worked with Shomos on her Boren and Fulbright applications.

            Shomos spent this year in Albania working for the Albanian Institute for International Studies, a nonprofit organization in the capital, Tirana. and interning for the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Her aim is to determine whether or not Albanian media accurately reflects on-site observations of trafficking in persons.

            "I act as project coordinator and staff researcher for the Albanian Institute for International Studies," Shomos said. "This experience has been invaluable in that it has allowed me to learn firsthand about a wide variety of political and social issues in the country."

            With her Fulbright scholarship, Shomos will leave in October for a nine-month fellowship program in Albania to further her research.

            As one of 1,600 U.S. students to be funded by Fulbright, Shomos will join the Fulbright program, which was established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, in its cause of fostering understanding between the United States and other countries.

            Shomos is the sixth Fulbright awardee from UNL this year. Others include:

  • Lindsay Graef, a recent UNL graduate, was awarded a Fulbright to go to Indonesia, where she will be an English teaching assistant. Graef majored in studio art at UNL.
  • Samantha Marcoux, a global studies major with minors in East Asian studies and Spanish, will study and teach English in South Korea for the 2013-14 academic year.
  • Amy Millspaugh, a graduate student in German and education, will teach English in Germany.
  • Daniel Nyikos, a third-year graduate student in English, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Hungary. His time there will be spent working on his dissertation.
  • Tim Wilkins, a senior music major, will travel to Bulgaria for an English teaching assistantship after he graduates in May.

Writer: Anna McTygue