By Marisa Palmieri
For Rick Kraince, a veteran of Ohio University's Southeast Asian Studies Program, experience, research and education have come full circle.
In conjunction with the University's recently awarded grant from the U.S. Department of State, Kraince has been named special projects manager for the Center for International Studies.
"I'm really excited about the grant and about being here," Kraince said. "I look forward to building on our University's strengths and expertise and working with faculty, students and staff interested in international projects.
The Southeast Asian Studies Program, in cooperation with the Department of Classics and World Religions, received the $400,000 grant to promote peace and stability in Indonesia, Kraince said.
"Ohio University's Southeast Asian Studies Program was invited to apply for this grant because of our faculty's long involvement in Indonesia and, in particular, our recent work with governmental and non-governmental organizations to bring peace and reconciliation to the country," said Drew McDaniel, director of Southeast Asian Studies in a news release.
Kraince, who earned his doctorate in education in the spring, is exemplary of this involvement. As a Southeast Asian studies graduate student he earned a Fulbright scholarship to research Islamic student activism in Indonesia.
From 1998 to 2001 Kraince studied at the National Islamic University in Jakarta, Indonesia. "[I researched] how Indonesian students have negotiated their way towards reform by being influenced between the democracy movement and the upsurge in Islamic politics."
Kraince, who has visited the site where Al Qaeda bombed in Bali in October 2002, said he has plans to hold an inter-religious dialogue there this summer that will involve both American and Indonesian religious leaders. "We chose the site to demonstrate the resolve of people of various faiths to strengthen inter-religious ties in spite of the efforts of terrorists to drive people apart."
Kraince has studied all over the world and credited "OU connections" for initiating his zeal for international adventurism. He said that his bachelor's degree in geology and the recommendations of University professors Roy and Gene Mapes led him to a job teaching coral reef ecology in the Caribbean.
"I always remember how crucial that first job was," said Kraince, who also led groups of American students in community development projects in the Caribbean. "It was that kind of energy that I love, those kind of student expeditions."
A walking example of where enthusiasm, dedication and Ohio connections can take a student, Kraince credited what he calls the strengths of the University -- its professors, opportunities and resources -- for how far he has come as a scholar.
Marisa Palmieri is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.