Small World


Christie Shu '09 is bound for Kazakhstan as her cultural exchange
mission continues

By Stephen Collins '74

Christine Shu '09Christie Shu '09, an international studies and Russian language and culture double major, will wing her way to Almaty, Kazakhstan, in August to spend a full year as a Rotary Ambassador Scholar, starting a master's degree in international relations, spreading goodwill, and promoting cultural exchange.

It took the San Marino, Calif., native most of two years to land the $24,000 scholarship through the San Marino Rotary, get the placement in Kazakhstan, and prepare for her Aug. 3 departure. And while the destination may seem exotic to some, for Shu it’s almost like returning to a familiar neighborhood. She has travelled to Russia three times during her Colby career, including a summer teaching English in southern Siberia (not too far from Kazakhstan), and spent her sophomore year Jan Plan and all of her junior year in St. Petersburg.

Shu said her initial intrigue with Russian language came from working with a Russian-speaking fencing coach in high school. She studied Chinese, the language of her father, growing up. She learned French, Spanish, and Latin before Colby. And she found the language, traditions, and the location at the nexus of Europe and Asia fascinating when she started studying Russian and traveling there in college.

Having looked into the Watson Fellowships and Fulbright programs, Shu decided that, "The Rotary program fitted me perfectly, because the purpose is cultural exchange." She's very excited about her destination, she said, because Kazakhstan is a country in transition—from a traditionally insular place to an outward-looking world citizen, from an old capital city to a new one, and from Russian to Kazakh (a Turkic tongue) as the official language.

Shu will begin a master's program at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research. She will maintain a blog, and her role as a Rotary ambassador requires her to speak to at least 15 groups while abroad and nine back in the United States upon her return. Whether one of those nine talks will be on Mayflower Hill remains to be seen, but Shu said she sees her role as an agent of cultural exchange as a lifelong assignment.

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  • On May 13, 2009, Harland H. Eastman wrote:
    Congratulations to Christie. I was a Rotary Ambassador Scholar (then called Rotary Foundation Fellow) during the school year 1952-53. I studied at the London School of Economics and in 1955 joined the American Foreign Service as a career diplomat. My career took me to England, France, Israel, Morocco, Benin and Viet-nam. Harland Eastman, Colby 1951
  • On May 13, 2009, Marjeanne B. Vacco wrote:
    Congratulations on your Award! I was named a Fulbright Scholar and spent a semester during the 2000-2001 academic year teaching and learning in Central Asia. I was assigned to the Al-Ferabi Kazak State National University in Almaty where I taught undergraduate and graduate students in the Sociology Department. Additionally, I worked with some NGO's. Almaty is an interesting city and Kazakhstan continues to be in a period of real transition. I hope your experience is as rich as mine was, and I hope to be able to follow some of your experiences. If I can be of any assistance to you prior to your departure for Kazakhstan, do not hesitate to contact me. Cobly 1962
  • On August 26, 2009, Nancy E. Downey wrote:
    Christie Congratulations ! We are so proud of you. We look forward to your blog and hearing about your adventures. And hopefully, welcoming you back to Colby for a talk.