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Assistant Professor Dr. Nadira Puškar-Mustafić Wins Prestigious U.S. Department of State Fellowship SUSI for Scholars

Assistant Professor Dr. Nadira Puškar-Mustafić from the English Language Literature (ELIT) study program has recently won the renowned U.S. Department of State Fellowship - SUSI (Study of the U.S. Institutes) for Scholars. Out of thousands of applicants from all over the world, only 18 individuals are honored with this fellowship, making it an exceptional achievement.

SUSI fellowships, spread across six institutes in the U.S., are not just about academic progress. They represent a bridge between cultures, introducing participants to the U.S. culture, and furthering their knowledge in their respective fields.

For six weeks, Prof. Puškar-Mustafić represented both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International University of Sarajevo (IUS). She spent the initial four weeks at The University of Montana’s Contemporary American Literature Institute, led by the distinguished academic directors, Dr. Erin Saldin and Dr. Quan M. Ha. This program, conducted by a committed SUSI project team and presided by Ms. Deena Mansour, focused on the theme of 'border crossings'. The group had the honor of meeting University of Montana’s President, Mr. Seth Bodnar.

“The SUSI experience has been transformative both personally and professionally. I am grateful to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy to BiH, the University of Montana, and my university, especially my ELIT study program, for supporting me on this incredibly enriching journey,” says professor Puškar-Mustafić. “I hope my experience will inspire my colleagues and young researchers to apply for this and other similar programs.”

Participants came from diverse countries, including Albania, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Philippines, Serbia, Tunisia, Togo, Turkiye, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Algeria.

In Montana, apart from immersing into American literary traditions and engaging with contemporary literature, participants were exposed to diverse topics including film, politics, civic engagement, and education. They had lively discussions with esteemed authors, such as Emily Ruskovich, Judy Blunt, Christine Carbo, and Bryce Andrews. A highlight was their interaction with Migizi Pensonaeu, the writer of the popular TV series Rez Dogs, and famed TV writers, Aja Gabel and Emily Nussbaum.

The cultural journey in Montana included watching the 4th of July Parade, Powwov (Native American 4th of July Celebration), rodeos, hiking to the iconic M hill to witness the 4th of July fireworks, experiencing white water rafting at Clark Fork River, visiting Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, Bison Range, and Native American Reservations. The SUSI participants also volunteered at the local food bank in Missoula. Prior to watching the movie at the Rocky Theater Cinema, they had a meaningful discussion about "A River Runs Through It" with Judie Blunt and filmmaker Annick Smith. Participants also had a memorable home stay weekend with an American family.

The final two weeks were spent in New York City and Washington, D.C. In New York, the participants met the award-winning writer Jai Chakrabarti, renowned book publishers, and had the opportunity to watch "Good night, Oscar!", a Broadway play. They also explored Times Square, Central Park, Bryant Park, The New York Public Library, 9/11 Museum, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. In Washington D.C., they visited Lincoln, Jefferson, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials, the African American Culture Museum, National Archives, listened to lectures on Asian American studies, visited the Capitol building, and explored the Library of Congress.

This journey provided Prof. Puškar-Mustafić with invaluable insights and connections, which she plans to use to enhance the academic environment at our university and in our country.