Administered by the state department, Fulbright awards provide a variety of research, teaching and education grants for travel abroad. Eister's first award, a Critical Language Scholarship, will take him this summer to Nizhny Novgorod, about 200 miles east of Moscow, where he will spend five hours a day in intensive Russian language instruction at a local university. He will return to Russia in September through a Fulbright award, this time to Kaliningrad Oblast, a non-contiguous Russian administrative region between Lithuania to the north and Poland to the south, where he will spend an academic year teaching English to students at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.
"It's a really interesting location," Eister said. "It's not in Russia, exactly, but it's a small piece of land split away from Russia. It's kind of a little Russian enclave, right on the Baltic Sea."
Eister is one of two members of his class to earn Fulbright awards this spring. The second, Lisa Hubbard '15, will be traveling to Malaysia on an English teaching Fulbright. Three Bucknell faculty members were also recently awarded Fulbrights.
A commuter student from nearby Northumberland, Pa., Eister discovered his love of the Russian language at Bucknell, where as a linguistics major seeking a dual degree in a foreign language, he was drawn by the Slavic tongue's exotic nature.
"Besides the language, I was always interested in Russian history," Eister said. "Given Russia's position in the world today, knowledge of their language is important for diplomacy."
Eister hopes his experience in Russia will help prepare him for a graduate program in linguistics or perhaps a career with the state department. He recognizes this summer's language instruction, in particular, will be trying, but said he's ready for the challenge.
"As someone who hasn't spent much time outside the U.S., I'm excited just to be in an environment where English isn't spoken," he said. "I'm excited to teach too, not only English but history and American culture."