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5/15/2007 Linfield College student wins Fulbright

McMINNVILLE - Linfield College senior Ryan Jones of Twin Falls, Idaho, will spend next year reading newspapers in Austria.

Jones, who will receive a degree in mass communication and minors in German and music at commencement exercises at Linfield on May 27, earned a Fulbright award and will study and teach in Innsbruck, Austria, next year. He will investigate the media's role in discrimination against Turkish immigrants in Austria.

According to Jones, Austria has had an influx of Turkish immigrants in the last decade. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Vienna and saw signs of discrimination against the Turkish because it was an election year and immigration was a primary issue.

“They have such different standards of what they can say on billboards or ads,” said Jones. One of the reasons these ads exist is because of a growing far-right political party with an anti-immigration platform. According to Jones, the discriminatory ads would not be seen in the U.S.

“There aren't the same standards for what is politically correct over there,” he said. “Similar sentiments might exist in the U.S., but it would be political suicide for a major party to make such a blatant statement in the mainstream media here.”

There is another reason this topic is so politically charged. Turkey is attempting to join the European Union, and Austria is one of its most vocal opponents. Jones has found studies that claim that racism is on the rise in Austria. He plans to do a content analysis of Austrian newspapers and do a direct comparison of at least two different newspapers to see if that claim is reflected in the newspapers' portrayals of immigrants.

“I want to see how different newspapers represent Turkish immigrants in comparison to immigrants from other countries,” Jones said.

Jones first became interested in the Fulbright award during his sophomore year, when faculty and family members encouraged him to pursue it. He hesitated when he realized it was only granted for research and teaching assistantships, neither of which he felt were his strengths.

But, after studying abroad in Vienna and spending a semester researching and writing a paper that focused on immigration in the United States, Jones realized he could combine all of his interests into a Fulbright application.

Jones won't only be conducting research. He will also be working in an Austrian high school as a teacher's assistant in English classes.

“It'll be a challenge, but it will be really fun to have that immediate and mandated connection,” he said. “If I was just doing research it would be easy to get removed from a social life. Just to have that kind of atmosphere where you are kept on your toes all the time will be really good for me, too.”

Jones is not sure of his plans after his Fulbright is completed, but he's excited to be pushed out of his comfort zone.

“After my four years at Linfield, I'm excited to be able to do something interesting and intellectually stimulating in a different atmosphere,” he said. “It will be a good change of pace and an opportunity for me to figure out exactly what I want to do after this.”

Jones said that the personal attention he received at Linfield made his application a winning one.

“The resources here helped so much by encouraging and advising me before and during the application process,” he said. “I probably wouldn't have gotten that elsewhere.”

Fifteen Linfield College graduating seniors have won Fulbright awards since 1999. The grants are designed to fund study, research and teaching in other countries to promote a greater understanding of different cultures and nationalities.