July 17, 2001
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Steven S. Lee, a January 2001 summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College, has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship for postgraduate study overseas. Lee, the son of Kwang S. Lee and Young S. Lee of Fairfax, Va., will study the lives of the ethnic Koreans from the Soviet Far East whom Josef Stalin forcibly resettled into Uzbekistan in Central Asia in 1937.
“This history was kept silent and the Soviet Koreans were viewed as a model minority, quickly assimilating and becoming successful farmers. My project will seek to ascertain how the Koreans in Uzbekistan have maintained distinct ethnic identities, comparing their experiences with my own as a Korean American,” Lee says. He wrote in his Fulbright proposal that he hopes to explore “the very substance of ethnic identity: perhaps I will find that Korean-Uzbeks share certain traits and concerns with Korean-Americans, another group in Diaspora. During the Silk Route times, Uzbekistan was at the crossroads of the world, and for three years now, I have dreamed of seeing my studies and background intersect there.”
Lee plans academic study at the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies and additional work with Valeriy Khan at the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of History.
An English major at Amherst&em;where his senior thesis examined Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiographical exploration of history and consciousness, Speak, Memory—Lee was also an editor at the Amherst Student and The Amherst Review, a literary magazine. He held summer internships at Civilization magazine and the (Northampton, Mass.) Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, viewed scholarship as an alternative to armed conflict. Today the Fulbright Program, the federal government’s premier scholarship program, funded by an annual Congressional appropriation and contributions from other participating countries, allows Americans to study or conduct research in over 100 nations.