2024-25 Fulbright: Samuel Ahlquist

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2024-25 Fulbright: Samuel Ahlquist

Color portrait of Samuel Ahlquist on a red campus background
Samuel Ahlquist

Samuel Ahlquist, who graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in December with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and Russian, has earned a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to teach English in Kyrgyzstan.

Ahlquist, who hails from Minnetonka, Minnesota, has longstanding interests in cross-cultural learning, geography and international politics. For his Eagle Scout project, he painted a political map of the world on the playground of his former elementary school, sparking curiosity for children. During his undergraduate career, Ahlquist enjoyed coursework on strategies for international relationship building and peace. As a campus host, he gave tours to prospective students, sharing everything from academic tips to the university’s history. He also engaged in language learning and service as treasurer of the Russian Club.

“We held many meetings and events centered on Russian and Eastern European culture and history,” he said. “The Russian program has afforded me so many opportunities at the university and created some of the strongest bonds among fellow students and graduates.”

Prior experience in Kyrgyzstan sparked his interest in the country’s politics and people.

“During my two-month study abroad in Kyrgyzstan, I was able to improve my knowledge of Russian and Kyrgyzstan as a country dramatically,” he said.

Ahlquist is eager to return to Kyrgyzstan as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, to share language learning and U.S. culture in the classroom.

While there, Ahlquist would like to combine the musical traditions of the United States and Kyrgyzstan with his colleagues and neighbors.

“I plan to contact other musicians to make music together,” he said.

He also plans to explore the country through hiking and touring cultural sites, such as Ala-Archa National Park and Lake Song-Köl.

After his Fulbright experience, Ahlquist plans to continue to study Russian and pursue a master’s degree in central Asian or Eastern European/Russian studies. He also aims to work in Kyrgyz-U.S. cultural and diplomatic relations by joining the U.S. Foreign Service.

“This [Fulbright experience] will allow me to be more effective in my future work by having a better understanding of Kyrgyzstan,” he said. “I can’t wait to spend my time making connections and forming relationships with the wonderful people of Kyrgyzstan and helping to foster better relations between the United States and Kyrgyzstan.”

The Fulbright program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, is supported by an annual appropriation made by Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as partner countries around the world. Fulbright recipients are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

At Nebraska, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships advises and nominates undergraduate candidates for 30 supported scholarships and fellowships. To learn more, students and campus community members should contact Courtney Santos, director of undergraduate research and fellowships, at courtney.santos@unl.edu.

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