Boldkhuu Nanzad came to Virginia Tech from Mongolia to “improve my knowledge and gain experiences” to develop new ideas of thinking and working.

Deputy director of fuel policy management at the Mongolian Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Nanzad is one of 12 midcareer professionals from around the world who are studying English at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute as part of the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.

This is the sixth year the institute has hosted the program’s English training component. The Fellows are focusing not only on their English and academic skills, but also on learning about academic life in the United States, developing intercultural awareness and leadership skills, and adapting to American culture, says Susan Neu, who directs the program at Virginia Tech.

The Fellows get extensive exposure to both the university and New River Valley communities, speaking to and interacting with classes and community organizations. Neu says the group welcomes invitations to tour a company, speak to a group, or simply drop in on an office or departmental meeting.

“The Humphrey Program is a tremendous asset for the town of Blacksburg,” Mayor Ron Rordam says. “Fellows from all over the world have visited with many town departments, and we have learned from each other.”

Here through August, the Fellows will each travel to another U.S. university for further study. Nanzad, for example, will study natural resources and environmental policy at Cornell University in order to better promote sustainability in Mongolia.

“There’s no substitute for the people-to-people contacts achieved by having some of the world’s best scholars interacting with students, faculty, and community members here,” says Don Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute. “Many of the Fellows we’ve hosted are leaders in their fields, and they say the friendships they developed at Virginia Tech are among their most cherished.”

The Humphrey Fellowship Program is a Fulbright exchange activity funded by Congress through the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Humphrey Fellows are selected based on their potential for leadership and their commitment to public service in either the public or the private sector.

2013 Virginia Tech Humphrey Fellows

  • João Pedru Abreu Martins, of Cape Verde, teaches architecture and urban planning at Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde. He will be studying sustainable urban planning and architecture, renewable energy, sanitation, and drainage at the University of Minnesota.
  • Ivana Moraes Braga, of Brazil, works as a communications coordinator with Grupo de Apoio às Comunidades Carentes do Maranhão (Support Group for the Poor Communities of Maranhão), a nongovernmental agency that promotes community development within socially vulnerable populations. She will be studying communication for social mobilization at Arizona State University.
  • Leandro Ivan Chulak, of Argentina, is the general deputy director of international relations for the Argentine Senate. He advises the vice president and Senate on issues of public policy and public administration. At the University of Minnesota, he will study public policy with a focus on public safety and crime prevention.
  • Luz Graciela Cruz, of Panama, is a project manager for the National Secretariat for Science, Technology, and Innovation, which funds research in Panama. She will study the latest responses to climate change as well as wastewater and sludge management processes at the University of California, Davis.
  • Isabel Francisca Kinlim, of Mozambique, is the head of the Department of Planning and Monitoring at Maputo’s municipal solid waste authority. She will study urban development at Cornell University.
  • Hamid Meziane, of Morocco, works with the regional director of agriculture office in Oujda. He will study pathogens in citrus crops and environmental protection through biological control at Cornell University.
  • Aziza Msaaf, of Morocco, is a supervisor in the Court of Audit in Rabat, responsible for a team that conducts financial and legislative audits of public institutions. At the University of Washington, she will study the effectiveness, economy, and efficiency of public institutions and public service.
  • Boldkhuu Nanzad, of Mongolia, is the deputy director of fuel policy in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy. He will study natural resources and environmental policy at Cornell University in order to learn new mining methods and ways to better encourage sustainability.
  • Armel Odilon Nganzi Kopialo, of the Central African Republic, is a program director with the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development project. The initiative works to increase the number of alluvial diamonds entering the formal chain of custody while improving the benefits accruing to communities. He will study the exploitation of mineral and natural resources and the integrated management of energy, mining, and natural resources at the University of California, Davis.
  • Lu Sam, of Myanmar, is an education program coordinator for Save the Children, an independent aid organization working to improve the lives of children around the world. At Vanderbilt University, she will examine ways to partner with education programs to impact the lives of children in rural Myanmar.
  • Fabián Sánchez Matus, of Mexico, is executive director of I(dh)eas, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses strategic litigation as a tool for social change. At American University, he will look at how to create alliances with international human rights organizations to develop democratic law and state policy based on human rights.
  • Najibullah Yamin, of Afghanistan, is a management framework specialist in the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock. At Michigan State University, he will examine ways to rebuild institutions and services in Afghanistan through the development of human resources.
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