For several months, associate English professor Colin Irvine has listened to Norwegian language recordings during his daily commute between Northfield and Augsburg College as he hoped for good news.
It turned out to be a good decision.
That’s because Irvine was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship award and will spend the 2010-2011 academic year in Norway as a Roving Scholar in American Studies.
In the role, Irvine will prepare presentations on American studies topics and travel to schools across Norway to provide opportunities for Norwegian teenagers to learn about the United States. The schools will request the presentation that Irvine will give. Irvine, who will be based in Oslo with his wife and two children, will likely give between 250 and 300 presentations.
“I’ve talked with four or five roving scholars and they all said that it is the most exhausting year of your life and the best year of your life,” Irvine said.
Irvine, who earned his master’s degree in American Studies and was previously a high school teacher before coming to Augsburg, has begun sketching out abstracts for his presentations. One topic he is working on is the cultural and political divide in the United States as it comes through the media. Another is humor in contemporary American society that looks at programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
“I’ve always been interested in the possibility in working or teaching overseas,” Irvine said. “This roving scholar program was perfect.”
Irvine was already planning on taking a sabbatical next spring semester, so the timing works well.
“Augsburg’s been incredibly gracious,” Irvine said.
While he hoped he would be selected, Irvine didn’t really know what his chances were. He found out at the end of November that he made the first cut and had an interview via Skype with a committee in Norway in early January.
In recent weeks, Irvine has called his wife almost daily to ask if the mail arrived. A little more than a week ago, Irvine himself pulled the envelope out of the mailbox on a Saturday afternoon.
“It was thin and my heart sunk,” said Irvine, who thought a thin envelope meant rejection. “The envelope was shaking so much. When we got it open, at the end of the first line it said, ‘Congratulations.’ I was shaking.”
And now, Irvine is preparing to leave the country at the end of July for what will be an exciting adventure.
“I’m thrilled and anxious, it’s exciting and terrifying,” he said. “The more it sinks in, th