CSU, Chico News

Alumnus to Spend Year in Belarus as Fulbright Recipient

Date: 05-05-2016

Ashley Gebb
Public Affairs and Publications

California State University, Chico alumnus David Simmons has received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award and will spend nearly a year working in Belarus. The international educational exchange program will provide him with the opportunity to represent the United States as a cultural ambassador, helping to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Belarus.

“I am very honored to have been selected for this Fulbright position and await its commencement in September with great anticipation,” he said, noting he hopes it will serve as a foundation for a potential future career in education or international relations.

Simmons is a Chico native who graduated magna cum laude from CSU, Chico with his bachelor’s degree in business in 2012. After graduation, he took a one-month solo trip across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, where he discovered his interest in Russia, the Russian language and Slavic culture. He completed a master’s degree in international business at the Friedrich Alexander University in Nuremberg, Germany, and then embarked on a one-year project traveling the world and interviewing people with introspective questions about life. His subjects included wounded soldiers in the Ukraine, Syrian refugees en route to Europe, a former Yugoslavian ambassador and a 95-year-old Burmese World War II veteran. He’s currently using the material from his interviews to produce a film and book. Details on his travels and experience can be found at on his World As One Media website or Facebook page.

As part of Simmons’ Fulbright duties, he will conduct English lessons at a Belarusian university and implement a platform for collaboration between Belarusian and American students, working in partnership with Chico State professor Julia Kobrina-Coolidge. The objective is to create an Internet portal for collaboration between language learners in the United States and abroad for a mutually beneficial educational experience. Simmons also plans to engage the community by leading English speaking groups and outings.

“This will allow those outside the university sphere to practice their English skills and come in contact with an American, which I can tell you from previous experience will be a first-time event for many,” he said.

Simmons’ acceptance into the Fulbright Student Program places him among approximately 1,900 Fulbright student grants awarded annually, operating in more than 140 countries worldwide.

In 2015, senior Vianney Bernabe was the second student in the CSU, Chico’s history to receive the honor. Bernabe, a political science and Spanish major, was awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to complete a binational business internship in Mexico, where she would spend a year working and studying at a Mexico-based company or nonprofit.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Grant recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. For more information, visit the Fulbright U.S. Student Program’s website.