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Queens College Professors Nathalis Wamba and Andrea Khalil Receive Fulbright Grants to Work in Africa


Graduating Student Erica Leong to Teach English in South Korea
as Fulbright Student Scholar

FLUSHING, NY, May 25, 2012 – Countless studies have found that quality teaching is the most important factor in student success. Just ask Queens College Education Professor Nathalis Guy Wamba, who has founded programs to help struggling high schools. Wamba’s powerful teaching strategy, which bridges educational theory with the practice of encouraging students to think and question, has brought about positive changes in the classroom. This August Wamba will bring his expertise to Malawi, Africa, where he will work for a year with Mzuzu University (a public institution) and Mzuzu Academy (an international baccalaureate school) as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Researcher.

In addition, Andrea Khalil, Professor of Comparative Literature, was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in Tunisia for 2012-2013. During her years of teaching at QC, Khalil has been encouraging students to learn more about the people of North Africa, focusing on literature, culture and politics in a region so far from our own. Her current book project on the political crowd, which she will be working on during the research trip, is entitled Productive Instability: The Political Crowd in North Africa. Conducting research for this book project will also allow her to track first-hand the changes in North African society in the wake of the Arab Spring.

And Erica Leong, graduating from Queens College this month, will leave soon afterwards for South Korea, where she will spend the next year teaching English through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. 

“The Fulbrights are among the most prestigious awards in
academia,” says QC Provost James Stellar, “and we are proud that this year we have three recipients – two faculty members and one student.  These honors speak highly of our students and faculty, who consistently receive recognition for their scholarship.”

Professor Nathalis Wamba to Teach and Develop Master’s Program in Education in Malawi

Viewing the Fulbright as his “modest contribution to Africa, where I am originally from,” Wamba will teach and conduct research in the education division of Mzuzu University. He will also help develop and implement a new master’s degree program in teacher education and foster collaboration among Mzuzu University, Mzuzu Academy, educational nongovernmental organizations and QC.  Before traveling to Africa, the Hastings-on-Hudson, New York resident will spend three weeks in Hungary, attending Central European University – a postgraduate institution in Budapest that is accredited in both Hungary and the U.S. – to participate in post-doctoral seminars.


Wamba’s research, scholarship and many books and articles focus on the power of education to promote social justice in schools.  Most recently, he served as the editor and a major contributor to Literacy and Poverty (Routledge Press, 2012), which examines how to improve schools’ responses to the needs of low-income children. As an NYU graduate student, Wamba worked with homeless teens, co-founding and directing a youth hostel in Brooklyn, and also co-founding a program linking graduate education students with struggling high school students. He also directed an anti-drug initiative in Harlem.

Professor Andrea Khalil to Probe Politics in North Africa Through Its Literary Texts

During her year as a Fulbright scholar, Khalil will focus on Tunisia, Algeria and Libya within the context of the Arab Middle East. She plans to draw upon North African literary texts about crowds as well as interviews with participants and analysis of visual materials on the power of political crowds in the region. “Receiving a Fulbright is a huge honor, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge of the region with my classes at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center when I return from this research trip,” says Khalil.

Khalil, who has previously received a Mellon fellowship for mid-career faculty from the CUNY Graduate Center, is the author of The Arab Avant-Garde: Experiments in North African Literature and Art (Praeger, 2003), which examines the experimental art and literature of North Africa.  She also edited North African Cinema in a Global Context: Through the Lens of Diaspora (Routledge, 2008), which provides insight on the socio-economic context of film production and the day-to-day existence of local artists in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.  This semester Khalil, who resides in Brooklyn, organized a conference at QC featuring several Middle East experts who explored the spread and global impact of changing politics in North Africa.  She is also on the Board of Directors of the American Institute for Maghreb Studies and the associate and book review editor for the Journal of North African Studies.     

Student Scholar Erica Leong Finds Music in Teaching

Fulbright student scholar Erica Leong will spend six weeks of training in Goesan, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, before receiving her teaching assignment.  The Massapequa Park, Long Island resident, who to date has not traveled farther than Canada, will stay with a host family wherever she is assigned and will be immersed in Korean language and culture around the clock.  “I’m really excited [about this opportunity], but a little scared about the language barrier,” says Leong, whose parents are from China. 

Leong, who had switched from majoring in music education to English, received her Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification in April 2011. At that point, she began teaching English to Chinese immigrants at a Chinatown YMCA through a program run by Pace University’s AmeriCorps.  When that program ended, the YMCA picked it up and Leong continued teaching.  Interested in learning about other Asian cultures, she accepted an internship at South Asian Youth Action, a nonprofit group in Elmhurst, Queens. Presumably, her varied background and commitment to ESL helped her stand out amid the thousands of Fulbright applicants.

Sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar exchange program offers opportunities for American faculty to conduct research, lecture and consult with other scholars abroad. Fulbright recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Operating in over 155 countries, the Fulbright program is one of the most prestigious awards programs in the world. Forty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes, and 78 have won Pulitzer Prizes.           

The Fulbright U.S. Student program offers fellowships for American graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study, conduct research and/or teach English abroad. Selection for the Fulbright Student Program emphasizes leadership potential, academic and professional excellence and commitment to mutual understanding. Over 5,600 students receive scholarships in the Fulbright Student Program annually.


Queens College boasts a student body from over 170 different countries who speak more than 90 languages. Located on a beautiful 77-acre campus in Flushing, New York, QC opened its doors in 1937 with the goal of offering a first-rate education to talented people of all backgrounds and financial means. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY) since its founding in 1961, Queens College is one of CUNY’s largest senior colleges. It enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs, and was cited in the 2012 edition of The Princeton Review’s The Best 376 Colleges for its academic excellence and generous financial aid packages. Over 120,000 students have graduated since the college’s first class of 1941. Our alumni include such household names as Paul Simon and Jerry Seinfeld, as well as such elected officials as Congressman Joseph Crowley, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and NYS Senator Jose Peralta, the CEOs of major companies, and leaders in the fields of medicine, education, media and the law.                                               


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