SMC World Languages and Cultures Professor Helga Lénárt-Cheng Receives Fulbright Award

Saint Mary’s Associate Professor Helga Lénárt-Cheng, who teaches in the College’s World Languages and Cultures department, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award.

Lenart ChengThe award allows Lénárt-Cheng to spend six months at the University of Bordeaux conducting academic research into the European refugee crisis and studying how the testimonies of refugees and migrants are currently being recorded in France. Like other European Union (EU) countries, France has experienced an unparalleled flood of refugees and migrants over the past three years. More than 1 million people, most fleeing war and terror in Syria and other countries, have sought safe harbor in EU countries, with more than 300,000 settling in France.

“In June 2017, the number of migrants crossing into Europe began to grow again, foreboding another summer of humanitarian crisis. This most recent wave of migration has shaken the very foundation of the European Union. While the debates among member countries focus mostly on quotas, numbers, and policies, I propose to listen instead to the personal narratives of those who are crossing the borders,” said Lénárt-Cheng. “What interests me are the individual stories of migrants, and the archives in which we preserve them.”

“A Fulbright Scholar Award is truly significant, ” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Bethami Dobkin. “The award is an indication of the caliber of Dr. Lénárt-Cheng’s scholarship and highlights how the values of social justice, consistent with the College’s mission, are explored by our professors in their scholarly work. We are tremendously proud of this impressive national acknowledgment of one of our gifted faculty members.”

Lénárt-Cheng’s Fulbright research will involve cataloging current collections of migrant, refugee, and immigrant stories in France, and noting how those oral history initiatives are being funded and coordinated; compiling a list of historical archives of immigrant stories in France; and tracing the historical development of these story-archives, examining how the political positioning of migration trauma affects the archiving practices of each historical era.

School of Liberal Arts Dean Sheila Hassell Hughes said the award recognizes Lénárt-Cheng’s exemplary academic research. “Dr. Lénárt-Cheng is an innovative scholar whose research in the collecting and archiving of transnational migrant narratives is not only original, but also critically important to providing a better understanding of our interconnected global society. Helga is an outstanding professor who, at an institution that prides itself on teaching excellence and student-centered pedagogy, has also been recognized in her department as a model educator. I have no doubt that as a Fulbright Scholar, and stellar representative of American higher education, she will prove to be a superb cultural ambassador for Saint Mary’s and our nation.”

A Saint Mary’s professor for more than eight years, Lénárt-Cheng is the co-author of the 2016 book Lénárd Sándor: Világok vándora [The Lives of Alexander Lenard], and her scholarship has appeared in many academic journals, including American Studies/Amerikastudien, Auto/Biography Studies, Biography, Cultural Politics, Hungarian Cultural Studies, New Literary History and St. Johns Humanities Review.

About The Fulbright Program
The flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program is known for illustrious alumni including heads of state, ambassadors, CEOs, journalists, artists, scientists, and educators. Past Fulbright recipients encompass 59 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 71 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Since the Program’s inception in 1946, more than 380,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated.

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About SMC
The Saint Mary's College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For more than 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church's oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls nearly 4,000 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary's College at stmarys-ca.edu and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.