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Holly McKinzie Beene and Leon Beene

During the unprecedented European winter of 2012, Fulbright Scholars Leon Beene and Holly McKinzie Beene were constantly aware of internal social and political conflicts in Romania and the fledgling Republic of Moldova to the east. Sponsored by the GCC International Education Program as part of International Education Week, they will present their insights on living as “citizen diplomats” through the lens of the Fulbright goal of “turning nations into people,” noon, Wed., Nov. 14, SU-104.

McKinzie Beene, GCC Faculty Emeritus in Communication and World Languages, will discuss life in a mid-size Romanian city, where she was the first U.S. scholar at her university. Her students spoke elegant English and were intimately familiar with American popular culture. “It’s a bit of a jolt to recognize that even young Romanians tend to paint the United States with a broad brush. If you live in a country where almost 90% of the population shares the same religion and language, it’s hard to imagine something different. I was constantly fielding questions that began with ‘What do Americans think..!”

Beene, GCC Faculty Emeritus in history, was posted further east, in the Republic of Moldova, the poorest country in Eastern Europe. Barely known to Europeans except as a punch line in assorted jokes, Moldova was identified some years back as “the unhappiest country on earth.” While he recognizes challenges of building lives in a country divided by both language and heritage, Beene will describe a semester of hospitality and social activism. In his talk, he’ll include his time in the breakaway zone of Transnistria, unrecognized by the United States, where Russian “peacekeepers” guard the border and his presentation content required preapproval from the central government.

Their lecture is free of charge and open to the public.

While in the Student Union, visit the cultural items exhibit in the glass display cases.