Next month, Winthrop University professor Karen Stock will begin teaching western art history in east Asia.
Stock, an assistant professor of fine arts, was named a Fulbright Scholar this year. The program will send her to China to teach at Beijing Normal University.
The program, launched in 1946 by Arkansas Sen. William Fulbright, is a government-sponsored exchange program. Participants are chosen "for their academic merit and leadership potential," according to the Fulbright Web site.
To apply, Stock had to write several essays and submit letters of recommendation. She leaves Aug. 23. The Herald chatted with her this week.
Q. What made you want to apply to teach in China?
A. I studied Chinese art as my minor in graduate school and have had a sustained interest in Chinese culture.
Q. What do you think the Fulbright award means for your career?
A. (During the application process) I have...met a variety of accomplished people who I would not otherwise have met in art history circles, such as economists, psychologists, journalists and law professors.
Being exposed to ideas outside of your own discipline is always beneficial. I am sure that being a Fulbrighter will provide new opportunities in the future. I am sure my teaching here at Winthrop will be strengthened and broadened by my experience.
Q. Outside of teaching, what do you hope to do and/or accomplish while you're there?
A. This is the kind of experience that can potentially change your world view permanently, and I plan to be open to new experiences. I look forward to experiencing daily life in Beijing, getting to know the rhythm of the city and visiting a wide range of cultural sites.
Q. Competition for a Fulbright is known to be fierce. How difficult was the application process? What was the toughest part?
A. The essays were daunting because you did not have that much room to express both your professional qualifications and your personal character.
They make their choice based on the essays, your CV (curriculum plan) and three recommendations. I was lucky that the timing was right, both in my career and the skills I can offer to the program.
Q. Do you have any expectations about your time in China?
A. I expect this will be a tremendous adventure, and I am trying to avoid too many preconceptions. I am sure I will get homesick, but I also know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.