Jonathan Eaton, a 2005 graduate of Sequim High School, was one of five students from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., to be awarded a Fulbright Award to teach abroad in the coming academic year.
Eaton, a history and humanities major, will conduct research on cultural heritage preservation in Albania.
Eaton said his fascination with cultural heritage began in the fall of 2007 while studying at Valparaiso’s Cambridge Study Center in England.
Intrigued by the Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Eaton asked its keeper of coins and medals if he could work in the department – an offer that was accepted and soon had Eaton identifying Roman coins and brushing up on Attic Greek.
"I began to consider the impact of a nation’s perception of its heritage, even back to ancient times," Eaton said, "and how this shaping of the national identity can play a role in deciding the fate of regions, such as the Balkans, which recently have been violently conflicted over issues of ethnic and cultural identity."
Next fall, Eaton will further explore his interests in Albania, a nation he said is enjoying growth and stability after decades of social, political and economic turmoil. He plans to visit museums and other cultural sites throughout the country, speak to museum officials and cultural scholars and conduct interviews with ordinary Albanians.
"As Albania stabilizes and plans for its future, many are looking to their country’s past to rebuild a healthy and strong national identity," Eaton said. "Not only will this have implications for how Albanians reconcile themselves with their past but also how they envision their future relationships with their Balkan neighbors and with the European Union."
Dr. Chuck Schaefer, associate professor of history and Fulbright adviser, said Eaton and Valparaiso’s other Fulbright winners recognize the need for people equipped to take leadership roles in an increasingly global environment.
"The Fulbright Commission is looking for people who will make the most of their nine to 10 months in a country and Jonathan fits that profile perfectly," Schaefer said. "It’s extraordinarily useful for the United States to send those individuals who are able to network and make cultural ties that are important parts of America’s efforts in soft diplomacy."
Eaton is the son of Steven and Rebecca Eaton of Sequim.
Valparaiso University is a university with Lutheran heritage enrolling nearly 4,000 students on its campus 55 miles southeast of Chicago.
Including this year, 17 Valparaiso students have won Fulbrights since 2004 to teach or conduct research in Egypt, China, South Korea, Germany and six other countries.