UW Fulbrighter to study in China

By Karen Faster, La Follette School

La Follette School student Allison Quatrini is off to China for 14 months, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.

The international public affairs scholar also won the Critical Language Enhancement Award, a new part of the Fulbright program to increase the number of Americans learning needed languages. It is affiliated with the National Security Language Initiative.

“My language program is in Harbin in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China,” says Quatrini, who is from Downers Grove, Illinois. “I’ll be taking two introductory courses, one in newspaper reading and another in classical Chinese.”

“The program lets me select the topic of my one-on-one tutorial, so I’ll be learning about the contemporary applications of Confucian philosophy,” she adds.

After spending almost four months in Harbin, Quatrini will head for Beijing, where she will commence research at Peking University’s Chinese Local Government and Local Administration Research Center.

The Fulbright program administered by the Institute of International Education sends more than 1,000 students and professionals abroad every year. For the 2006-07 school year, 15 University of Wisconsin-Madison students received Fulbrights.

Quatrini says she appreciates the help of La Follette School faculty members Melanie Manion and Karen Holden for writing letters of recommendation. Manion also helped Quatrini to establish her affiliation with Peking University.

Quatrini earlier won a Foreign Language and Area Studies Graduate Fellowships from the U.S. Department of Education. She used it to complete an intensive language studies program at Wisconsin’s Beloit College, where she studied intermediate Mandarin Chinese. She eventually wants to pursue a Ph.D. in political science and Asian studies.

She will examine the link between the election and selection of local government officials (called cadres) and the practice of Confucianism in a Leninist context. She hopes to focus on the open recommendation and selection method of choosing township officials.

“I hope my research will answer three questions,” Quatrini says. “One, where do we see manifestations of Confucian theory and practice in cadre selection procedures? Two, how do the Chinese define legitimate democracy? And three, how successful is open recommendation and selection in maintaining a Leninist framework while advancing China’s political agenda?”