Fascinated by global politics and world history, Peter Oster has sought to understand foreign affairs through interaction with other cultures.
Through the Fulbright Program, Oster will have the opportunity to experience Kazakh culture firsthand. Oster, a global studies, Russian, political science and history major, national security studies minor and member of the University Honors Program, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Kazakhstan for the 2016-17 academic year.
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 160 designated countries. Recipients are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their potential for leadership in their fields.
Oster, a 2012 graduate of Millard West High School and native of Omaha, has already amassed a host of international experiences. He has studied abroad twice in Russia, most recently as a 2015 Critical Language Scholar at Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod.
Oster also worked as an intern for the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., preparing materials for an oral history conference taking place in Kazakhstan on the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. As members of the program, the United States, Kazakhstan and Russia worked together to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, which Oster calls “an … inspiring historical example of international cooperation between former adversaries.”
His experiences abroad in Russia and internship research on regional diplomacy fuel his enthusiasm to live in Kazakhstan, work with its people and learn about its culture. He said he looks forward to beginning Kazakh language study in-country as well as continuing to learn Russian.
“I want to visit [Kazakhstan] as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to personally interact with its people, learn firsthand about its society and develop deep, lasting ties between Kazakhs and Americans,” Oster said. “I know that personal interaction is the best way to achieve understanding between cultures.”
He plans to accomplish this type of understanding with his students both in the classroom and via extracurricular activities such as American culture and English language clubs, facilitating learning through open discussion about cultural differences, international issues and common history.
Oster plans to attend graduate school in international relations or Eurasian regional studies and pursue a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.
“I want to translate my desire to connect with others around the world, by sharing varied experiences with common understanding, into a career in which I can further common interests and the greater good,” he said.
He sees the Fulbright as a valuable opportunity that will prepare him for a career in foreign policy.
“My experiences abroad have deeply changed me as a person,” Oster said, “and I anticipate growing as a global citizen … by traveling, learning about new places and interacting with new people.”
Until his departure, Oster will be an intern for Congressman Brad Ashford’s office this summer in Washington, D.C.