I was raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho and attended a liberal arts college for a BA in Literature, with a focus on South and Southeast Asia, where I was originally inspired to look more deeply into cultural studies. I decided to invest myself into language studies and then started my MA in Asian Studies at UHM, with a focus on Khmer language and popular culture. My thesis research connected me to heritage and contemporary filmmakers in Cambodia, and I also researched the intersections of nationalism and gender formations in Cambodian cinema from the Golden Era (1960-1975). I plan to delve further into the historical era while being funded by the Fulbright program. I will be collecting oral histories in rural areas of Cambodia and helping to construct a public and accessible archive.

UHM offers a comprehensive Khmer language course that I was able to participate in from beginner to advanced level, and I was awarded a Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarship to study for my MA. Ultimately, it was the combination of the unique and dynamic position of UHM along with the coursework and community of support that defined my experience.

Without the support of the Fulbright Grant, I would not have been able to develop a long-term research and community project to pursue in Cambodia for the upcoming year. I am very grateful for this chance to undertake a new research path.

I acknowledge that this is not an official Department of State website or blog, and that the views and information presented here are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.

Fulbright Awardee Jessica Austin
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