HIGH POINT, N.C., June 27, 2016 – Hannah Bailey, a 2016 High Point University graduate, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar. The prestigious award will send Bailey to Bosnia in October to implement a social reconciliation project using photography in a way that connects people across ethnic and religious lines.
Bailey, a Holly Springs native who received a bachelor’s degree in international relations in May, was assisted by the university’s Fulbright Program Committee through the application process. Thanks to their mentorship and the education she’s received at HPU, Bailey is the university’s first Fulbright Scholar.
“Hannah is a trailblazer for the university,” says Dr. Brian Augustine, chair of the committee. “She broke barriers and serves as a shining example of the types of students we have at HPU.”
Bailey’s project will focus on empowering high school students to use photography as a way to explore their own lives and the lives of others. Bosnia’s ethnic groups remain divided after the country’s violent civil war in the 1990s. Her project will encourage more interaction between those groups in an effort to reduce prejudice through knowledge and understanding gained from each other.
“I have chosen to work with students because though they were born after the war ended, they have in many instances inherited prejudices from those who experienced the conflict,” says Bailey. “People in Bosnia will tell you they can see differences in each other. They say they can see it in how others look, their accent or their last name. But when you simplify things to a portrait that captures someone’s humanity, their ethnic identity becomes uncertain. It is in that uncertainty that prejudice falters.”
Her project was inspired by a French street artist known as “JR”, whose own project, “Face 2 Face,” used photography to focus on the similarities of the people in the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Bailey’s project may go on to include photography exhibits both in Bosnia and here in the United States that showcase students’ work.
Bailey first traveled to the country on a mission trip when she was 12 years old and has since returned three times. She also studied abroad in Austria, where she focused on Bosnian politics and took language courses in Serbo-Croatian.
“Hannah’s project will examine the so-called ‘contact hypothesis’ – to what extent can groups with a history of violence find ways to overcome fears and mistrust through proactive interactions with one another?” says Dr. Sam Whitt, assistant professor of political science and member of the HPU Fulbright Program Committee. “Similar research has been conducted by leading scholars and published in premier journals like ‘Science,’ and Hannah has a great opportunity to make a contribution through her research. Beyond research, I think she will be a wonderful cultural ambassador for the United States. In fitting with High Point University’s ideals, Hannah continues to challenge herself to be extraordinary.”
During her first trip to the country, Bailey says she fell in love with the people of Bosnia and how little they have, yet how much they give.
“My time in Bosnia changed the course of my life,” she says. “Since 2007, I have focused on developing the skills I will need to pursue a career dedicated to developing ways for youth in post-conflict settings to engage in reconciliation practices.”
“Hannah’s research project is well conceived, and it addresses a profoundly important global problem,” adds Dr. Mark Setzler, professor of political science and member of the HPU Fulbright Program Committee. “Almost all research-centered Fulbright awards go to graduate students, but we knew that Hannah would be competitive because of her strong foreign language training, multiple stays abroad, and her terrific writing and research skills.”
Developing the university’s first Fulbright Scholar is part of a long list of academic milestones HPU has achieved since Dr. Nido Qubein became HPU president. That includes receiving doctoral degree granting status; increasing study abroad programs by 1,180 percent; nearly tripling faculty; adding undergraduate majors such as biochemistry, actuarial sciences, international relations, entrepreneurship, sales and others; launching new graduate programs such as physician assistant studies; establishing the Piedmont Triad’s only School of Pharmacy; launching holistic learning programs such as a Survey Research Center (HPU Poll), Human Biomechanics and Physiology Laboratory, Success Coach program and Office of Career and Professional Development; and much more.