Taylor Bolam, a senior from Elkhorn, Nebraska, at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business, earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Russia for the 2017-18 academic year. An economics major with minors in German and Russian, Bolam said he applied for the program because he enjoys learning about other cultures and he believes language is a key to many doors – "doors that lead to discovery, understanding and opportunity."
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, fosters understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 160 designated countries. Students such as Bolam are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Bolam's interest in the Russian language and culture began during high school when he discovered Cold War-era literature. Then, while studying in Berlin after his freshman year of college, he befriended a student from Moscow, which inspired him to begin his Russian studies during his junior year. After two years of instruction, he earned a Critical Language Scholarship to study in Vladimir, Russia. For two months, he adhered to a no-English pledge and immersed himself in an intensive language-learning environment and culture.
Fulbright participants are encouraged to expand their experience outside of the classroom through volunteering or community outreach. Bolam plans to create a club to discuss American culture through film and music at a Russian school. He said he would like to create a writing exchange between his former middle school in Omaha, Nebraska, and a middle school in Russia. He also plans to volunteer at a Russian organization for underprivileged children.
Bolam said he looks forward to building an open, friendly classroom atmosphere that encourages participation. He feels the combination of his economics major with two language minors will serve as a benefit during the experience.
“I anticipate plenty of questions in my classroom to be about business ventures and macroeconomic interactions, particularly between the U.S. and Russia. My economics major and language minors will help me provide informed and articulate answers to complex questions,” Bolam said. “Simply knowing material from my economics courses will also guide my conversations with Russian professionals.”
Upon returning to the United States, Bolam intends to apply to a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank to work as a Russian policy intern. His long-term career goal is to become a public affairs foreign service officer with the State Department. Equipped with a variety of College of Business courses, he credits the classes he took as preparation for both the Fulbright experience and his future career.
“My classes in the College of Business prepared me for the Fulbright experience and my career as a whole because I have gotten the opportunity to become familiar with many different business disciplines. I believe it is important to have a fundamental knowledge of many different areas because this knowledge is what completes the picture,” Bolam said.