Menlo Park, Calif., resident Alexandra Kleinerman, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in Assyriology at The Johns Hopkins University, has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright Student Program for the 2007-2008 academic year. She is one of 17 Johns Hopkins students and graduates so far this year to receive a Fulbright grant, one of the most prestigious awards in academia.
Kleinerman, 25, will travel to Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen in Germany to study scribal education in ancient Iraq. In particular, she will work on a collection of fictional letters and other short compositions (called the Sumerian Epistolary Miscellanies) that were used to train Akkadian-speaking children to read and write Sumerian around 1800 BC. According to Kleinerman, Sumerian was an unspoken literary and liturgical language at this time much as Latin was in the Middle Ages.
Under the direction of Professor Konrad Volk, Kleinerman will read and translate more than 100 clay tablets that make up the Sumerian Epistolary Miscellanies. Through her research, she hopes to gain key insight into ancient Iraqi education practices.
"The scribal schools in Babylonia provide the first examples in human history of a curriculum, used to teach a foreign language," she said. "Understanding the step- by-step progression with which school children learned Sumerian provides insight into how Mesopotamians understood the learning process in particular and their system of logical reasoning in general."
Kleinerman earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 2003 and graduated summa cum laude in Near Eastern studies.
Created in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. The program awards approximately 1,000 grants annually and currently operates in more than 140 countries. Successful U.S. applicants utilize their grants to undertake self- designed programs in a broad range of disciplines including the social sciences, business, communication, performing arts, physical sciences, engineering and education.
Kleinerman's parents, Aurel Kleinerman and Deborah Scheraga, reside in Menlo Park. For more information on the Fulbright program, go to www.iie.org .
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