Having been ferociously devoted to spreading knowledge of colonial and early United States history, Dr. Ann Ostendorf, associate professor of history, has left her mark on students at Gonzaga. Now she is doing the same for students nearly 5,000 miles away in Tokyo, Japan, on Fulbright Grant as a Fulbright Unity Leader.
Fulbright is a competitive program offering approximately 8,000 grants every year to send American scholars abroad to lecture or conduct research for up to a year. Fulbright also offers scholarships for students and artists.
Relentlessly adventurous and ready to break from her comfort zone, Ostendorf tells The Bulletin in an email about her travels so far.
The Gonzaga Bulletin: Why are you in Japan?
Dr. Ann Ostendorf: I was awarded a Fulbright to teach at the University of Tokyo and Japan Women’s University.
GB: Why did you decide you wanted to apply for Fulbright?
AO: Just as students benefit from traveling and studying abroad by helping them develop new perspectives, so do professors who have the opportunity to live and work overseas. Also, because I knew so little about Japan, I wanted to broaden my understanding about Japanese history and culture.
GB: Is this something that you have always wanted to do?
AO: I have always loved traveling abroad and I do it as much as possible. So, the opportunity to live and work abroad has always been appealing to me. I had professors in graduate school as well as colleagues at Gonzaga who were Fulbright scholars, so they inspired me as well.
GB: How does being a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer help you as a professor?
AO: Being a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer will help me think about how my [American] culture informs my world view. This will help me in the cultural history classes I teach at Gonzaga.
GB: What is your favorite thing about Japan so far?
AO: It is hard to choose because there are so many. The people here are so kind, I can go anywhere without having to drive a car, everything is so thoughtfully designed.
GB: What has been the most challenging aspect of teaching in Japan?
AO: I have only taught a few classes so far, but because I am teaching in English and all my students are taking courses in their second, (or third, or fourth) language it can be difficult knowing if they are understanding my language when I explain topics.
GB: What do you miss most about home?
AO: My kitty and Mexican food.
GB: Would you recommend this program to other professors?
AO: Absolutely! And for students to apply to as well (Fulbright has awards for professors, students and even some for artists). You can never know how a new experience of being outside of your familiar surroundings will change you. I recommend that everyone should get outside their comfort zone as much as possible to find out. You will learn as much about yourself as you do about the new culture around you. Be curious; don’t be afraid of what you might find out about yourself or others.