CLASnotes

Citizens of the World


"...the need to see how other people live and the ability to be jealous of them. I can't imagine it any other way."
--Dan Bredahl (1992)

Dan BredahlUF journalism major Dan Bredahl traveled to almost a dozen countries during his lifetime. His adventurous life of living, studying, and meeting people abroad began when he was five and traveled with his family to Pakistan. When he was 14, the family moved to India and Dan spent his eighth-grade year in an all-Indian Jesuit boys school. After returning to Gainesville and graduating from PK Yonge High School, Dan spent six months in France and then enrolled at UF. He was planning a career in international journalism and spent his junior year at UF in France. Two weeks after he returned from his year abroad, Dan was killed in a traffic accident in Gainesville.

After Dan's untimely death, his family and friends wanted to do something to keep his name and spirit of adventure alive. Dan's father, UF English Professor Carl Bredahl, says a family friend suggested establishing a scholarship for international study in memory of Dan. "We thought this would be a beneficial and meaningful way to give other students the chance to see the rest of the world like Dan had done." The Daniel Sinclair Bredahl Scholarship was established in 1994, and began as two $4,000 scholarships for UF undergraduates to study abroad for one academic year. "This scholarship is unique because it gives students the chance to study and live abroad for two semesters, rather than just for the summer semester," says Bredahl. Thanks to private donations and matching state funds, the endowed scholarship has grown, and two additional one-semester scholarships have been added. To date, the Bredahl Scholarships have given approximately 20 students the opportunity to live and study in such countries as Russia, China, Poland, Egypt, Kenya, Japan, England, and Italy.

Bonnie MioduchoskiBonnie Mioduchoski--Kenya
One of the first recipients of the Bredahl Scholarship was Bonnie Mioduchoski. Bonnie decided to attend UF because of the anthropology department's excellent reputation. Since she paid for school out of her own pocket, a scholarship was the only way Bonnie could afford to study abroad. She applied for the Bredahl Scholarship because, unlike some other study abroad scholarships, it does not require language fluency. "Many people learn best if they are immersed in the culture. That has always been the case for me, and even though I wasn't fluent in any language prior to my trip, I learned Swahili while in Kenya, and since then I have learned French fluently and have medium fluency in Spanish."

Using the Bredahl Scholarship, Bonnie participated in the Minnesota Studies in International Development Program in Kenya. Before going to Kenya, Bonnie spent a quarter in Minnesota learning about Kenyan culture and development. Then, in January 1995, Bonnie and 100 other students landed in Nairobi and had intensive language classes for two weeks. "After that, we all went to different areas of the country where we worked as interns. I was stationed in Lamu, a coastal town 28 miles from the Somalia border. I worked with the Lamu Environmental Museum and helped them with tours and worked on some video editing."

Since her initial trip overseas, Bonnie has continued to travel and study abroad. This past December, Bonnie, who now lives in California and will finish her MBA in May, spent a month in Guatemala, learning Spanish. "I want to learn so that when I travel around I can communicate with people. Knowing the language really does change the entire experience, and it shows the local people that you care enough to learn how to communicate on their terms." In 2003 Bonnie and her husband plan to journey around the world and eventually settle in Europe. "My anthropology degree and MBA will help me be a socially responsible business leader, and I eventually plan to start a non-profit organization with my husband that helps children or homeless people."

Bonnie says the study abroad scholarship gave her the opportunity to examine her life in the United States. "It also taught me that there is no one right way to live. Many people criticize those living in developing countries for not being as 'advanced,' as those of us in Europe and North America. Most of the people I met in Africa had fewer material possessions, but a much healthier outlook on life."

Marcin PachcinskiMarcin Pachcinski--Poland
While Bonnie had never lived abroad before her trip to Kenya, fellow scholarship winner Marcin Pachcinski decided to return to his birthplace of Poland. Marcin was born in Szczecin, Poland, a city of 500,000 people located on the Baltic Sea near the German border. He immigrated with his family to America in 1984 when he was five, after the communist regime began questioning his father's opposition to the government. His father was a first officer in the merchant marine, and the family was allowed to take a vacation by traveling to America on a cargo ship on which he was working. This vacation was carefully planned. "Once the ship docked in Tampa we had to wait for the right moment to flee. As my father was second in command, he waited until the captain went shopping in the city, leaving no one in authority to arrest us. My father made a call to the Polish contact he had in Florida, and the next thing I remember is being taken by the FBI to the county jail to apply for political asylum."

Marcin and his family settled in St. Petersburg, and he decided to attend college at UF because it was close to home and affordable. When he started taking classes, Marcin wanted to study a variety of fields. "My interests ranged from Latin American studies to medicine to political science. One thing I did know was that I wanted to focus on my language courses." Under the guidance of Professor Halina Stephan, Marcin decided to pursue an interdisciplinary major in Slavic studies and apply for the Bredahl Scholarship in 1998. He wanted to return to Poland. "After reading about Daniel's life, and especially his passion for travel and adventure I felt we had a great deal in common. It also put into perspective how much we all take for granted every day."

Marcin wanted to know what transformations had taken place after the fall of communism in 1989 and how the Poland he remembered as a child had changed. While he was there studying, Marcin worked in an orphanage and chose to write his senior thesis on post-communist Polish orphanages. "I really developed a close relationship with the kids. There were a total of 80 of them living on three floors. They called me 'uncle' and that's pretty much the role I played."

In addition to working with the children, Marcin took Polish art, history, and grammar courses at the Polonia Institute. While there, he met some Russian-speaking friends and became interested in Russian culture. After returning to UF in the fall of 1999, Marcin began exploring the possibility of studying in Russia. "I chose a program in Saint Petersburg at the Russian Center for Language and Culture. I studied there for the spring of 2000." While in Russia, Marcin applied to be an intern at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC. He is working there during the spring semester and researching Russia's economic history.

Marcin plans to complete his bachelor's degree at UF this summer and would like to pursue a graduate degree, possibly in European studies. He says the opportunity to return to Poland helped him form his philosophy on life. "Whenever I have a decision to make, I picture myself at an old age and think, 'What will make the best and unforgettable memories?' I have learned to 'cram' as much fun, travel, adventure, and time with family and friends as possible into every day."

Bernard UadanBernard Uadan--Japan
Like Marcin, another Bredahl Scholarship winner, Bernard Uadan, had family who immigrated to the US. Bernard's parents are from the Philippines and immigrated to Jacksonville in the early 1970s before Bernard was born. While in high school, Bernard developed an interest in the history and cultures of Asia, particularly Japan. "Since my high school did not offer Japanese as a class, I started to learn Japanese on my own as a hobby. By the time I got into UF, I had a beginning vocabulary and a good knowledge of the Japanese writing characters, but little in the way of grammar and speaking practice."

To fill this void, Bernard took Japanese language and literature classes and chose East Asian languages and literatures as his major. He says the next logical step in his career path was to study in Japan, so he chose to apply for the Bredahl Scholarship in 1996. Soon he was visiting the shrines and temples of Osaka, singing karaoke, learning martial arts, and immersing himself in Japanese culture. Bernard says, however, that living in Japan was not a storybook experience. "I would be lying if I said my first year of study in Japan was the perfect experience. Although one would expect that my outward appearance of being Asian would help me 'fit in' to the society, I found that instead, I encountered a form of racism in some Japanese who would rather interact with Caucasians, as they seemed 'more American' than me, a child of immigrants to the United States."

Bernard returned to the US with a somewhat cynical view towards Japan, but he wanted to change this attitude and felt committed to giving it another chance. After graduation from UF, Bernard returned to Japan on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1998 and studied at Kyushu University in Fukuoka. "My experiences in Fukuoka went a long way to redeem my thoughts about Japan and the Japanese people. Furthermore, I made several Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean friends, relationships that inspired me to want eventually to learn those languages. My outlook became far more positive, and I started to work as a volunteer, teaching Japanese to other foreigners and helping them through the same difficult experiences that I had in Osaka."

Since returning to the states in 1999, Bernard has been looking for a chance to go back once again. He currently works as the Japanese language lab assistant and tutor at the University of North Florida and is in the process of creating a computerized Japanese language curriculum for UNF students. He traveled to Japan in February to meet old friends. "Wherever the road of my life takes me, my experiences in Japan will play a large part in getting me there."

Thy NguyenThy Nguyen--Austria and England
One of this year's Bredahl Scholarship winners is currently interning in the House of Commons of the British Parliament. Political science major Thy Nguyen, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, is also attending the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her concentration in international relations and interest in British culture led Thy to apply for the Bredahl Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom. "I decided to look for a program that would place me at the heart of British politics and urban culture. I think many international relations students think of those terms only in the context of how the US deals with other nations. I want to get out of that mind-set and explore politics within the society and political system of a foreign state."

During the fall 2000 semester, Thy interned with the US State Department in Vienna, Austria. She also visited Germany, Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Even though her study abroad experience is not complete, Thy says she has already noticed a lot of differences between the US and other countries. "This experience has changed my life by affording me a very rare opportunity to interact with others within the British society and actually learn hands-on how another government works. Only five percent of Britain's population ever set foot in the Houses of Parliament, so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to go there every day. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Giving students this unique opportunity has been the foremost goal of the Bredahl Scholarship. His father says Dan dreamed of a world where people worked toward understanding each other. In one of his many letters, Dan wrote, "I've been wondering if I could become a citizen of the world...." Through the Bredahl scholarship, Dan has given many students the chance to become citizens of the world.

--Allyson A. Beutke

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