Fulbright Experience Illuminates Latin American Culture
By Hayden Bergman
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program has sent thousands of highly qualified scholars around the world to help increase understanding among cultures and enrich relationships between intellectuals. The process of being selected as a Fulbright Scholar is, as you might expect, extremely competitive. The demands of the program—cultural adjustment, navigating a workplace in a different language, managing the competing demands of teaching and research—require someone who is not only skilled but willing to take on an immense challenge. UHD’s Dr. Edmund Cueva, Professor of Classics and Humanities, is just such an individual.
Dr. Cueva recently returned from a semester at the University of Murcia (UM), the third-oldest university in Spain, where he spent time conducting research, teaching, and building relationships with his international classics colleagues. While there, Dr. Cueva studied the reception of Greek and Roman literature in the Americas, as well as how revolutionary leaders like Simón Bolívar and José Martí used classical literature to inform their political and social stances as they worked to help their countries gain independence from Spain. “[UM] has an ancient manuscript collection called El Fondo Antiguo,” said Dr. Cueva, “that contains unpublished letters that detail how independence leaders were relying on the classics for political thinking and strategy.” And while an ancient manuscript collection might conjure images of dusty books and creaky shelves, Dr. Cueva says that’s not the case at all: “The rooms are temperature controlled and very modern. The collection has cutting-edge technology.”
Since part of his charge as a Fulbright scholar was to foster cultural exchange, Dr. Cueva also took part in weekly academic seminars in Spanish, gave two public lectures on his research, and taught a graduate seminar in classical and modern drama.
And while his Fulbright experience is certainly beneficial for Dr. Cueva, it’s also a boon for his students here at UHD, since his research helps shed light on texts written by (or for) folks from Mexico or Latin America. Since UHD is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Dr. Cueva says it’s important to teach texts that “address the concerns of a Latino background,” and that show students the “Spanish-speaking world can produce scholarship and literature that is just as good—or better—than anyone else.”
Among the many duties of a Fulbright Scholar is the responsibility to go abroad and contribute to “a more peaceful, equitable, prosperous, and just world.” Having lived up to that charge, Dr. Cueva is back at UHD to help our campus community do the same.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.