Diane Rubino, an adjunct instructor in the Division of Programs in Business, was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant. This program provides a unique opportunity for US academics to engage in two- to six-week project-based exchanges at host institutions around the world. For the first phase of her project, Rubino will work with the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), where she served as a visiting faculty member in Spring 2018.
As a “Half Bright”—or partner of a Fulbrighter—Rubino taught under-graduate nonprofit communications, media law, and ethics courses; ran a journalists’ seminar; and established a chapter of Toastmasters International, the public speaking and leadership development group for students.
While in Bulgaria, she noted a pronounced pessimism about the country’s future expressed by the younger citizens of this former Eastern Bloc nation. This skepticism manifested as an exodus of talent—making Bulgaria’s population one of the fastest shrinking in the world. Their negative view also seems to contribute to myopia in these young people, preventing them from recognizing the many organizations working toward a more progressive vision for their country.
Based upon her own experience meeting change-makers around the world while working in international development, Rubino organized a project called “Hopeful Bulgaria” to bring change-makers to campus during her semester there.
Her Fulbright initiative builds on that work, aiming to strengthen AUBG’s ties with Bulgaria’s nonprofit sector. Bridging the gap between these types of entities can foster students’ internship/part-time employment, civic engagement, career, and problem-based learning opportunities. It also will help to improve students’ understanding of the sociopolitical landscape. In turn, nonprofits can gain access to the university’s knowledge, facilities, and energetic young people.
Rubino’s goal is to develop and document a methodology that can be used at universities in other countries through the Fulbright Specialist Program.