Antioch’s Jordan Bakke awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship

Jordan Bakke is a long time Antioch resident and a graduate of Antioch’s Ezell Harding Christian School, and was recently awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

He recently graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a degree in international development.  The Fulbright award will allow Jordan to study abroad for the next year teaching English in Kazakhstan.

Jordan Bakke Source: Facebook

We asked Jordan to answer a few questions to share with our readers.

AT:  Did you personally choose the Kazakhstan area for this opportunity? If so, what is it about the region that piqued your interest?

Jordan:  “I did not choose Kazakhstan. I actually applied for the Fulbright in Kyrgyzstan, but because of additional late funding, I was offered a scholarship in Kazakhstan. However, in the end, I found that my interests and passions aligned more closely with this Central Asian nation, and I am very excited about completing my Fulbright in Kazakhstan.

What interested me so much about the region is that I saw many of the same development issues that I studied in Africa manifesting: mainly dependence on the exportation of natural resources and the influence of Global powers. In development, it is very difficult for economies to shift from exporting raw resources to having a more diversified economy that includes the service sector and manufacturing, and I want to witness if there are similar issues in Kazakhstan as I have seen in other developing nations. I am also interested in studying in Central Asia because, although it is the crossroads between major world powers, the rest of the world often overlooks it.

It is a fascinating area positioned between the major powers of Russia and China as well as the Middle East in the South, which is all heavily news covered areas, but Central Asia rarely makes headlines. The most overlooked countries can turn out to be the most important, and I want to learn first-hand about the region.”

AT:  Have you ever been to Kazakhstan before or will this be your first time?  

Jordan:  “I have not been there. I have traveled, studied, and worked in Africa as well as South America and Europe, but have not been to Central Asia, which is one of the reasons I am so excited about the opportunity. My goal is to work in the field of international development. This would include organizations such as USAID and UNESCO, and I see this grant as giving me the opportunity to expand my perspective as well as providing valuable experience to assist me in reaching my goal.  The goal of the grant is ultimately cultural exchange and producing empathy and understanding between countries. We often find ourselves focusing on where opportunities can take us, seeing them as a staircase that brings us that goal, but I think it is extremely important not to be too focused on the future and to see this grant as an opportunity to promote development and the exchange of ideas in the region.”

 

AT:  In taking the long view how do you plan to apply your experience and education in international development during your year interning as well as beyond?  

Jordan:  “My goal is to work in the field of international development. This would include organizations such as USAID and UNESCO, and I see this grant as giving me the opportunity to expand my perspective as well as providing valuable experience to assist me in reaching my goal.  The goal of the grant is ultimately cultural exchange and producing empathy and understanding between countries. We often find ourselves focusing on where opportunities can take us, seeing them as a staircase that brings us that goal, but I think it is extremely important not to be too focused on the future and to see this grant as an opportunity to promote development and the exchange of ideas in the region.”

AT:  Please offer any words of advice or encouragement to our student readers. 

Jordan:  “The most important thing for me was learning the necessity and importance of failure. I went to a small high school, so there wasn’t a ton of competition. It wasn’t until applying for college that I really felt rejection in a big way. I had to learn how to fail and that failing is a good thing. I didn’t realize this at the time, but if I gotten into every school I applied to then I wasn’t pushing the limits I could achieve.

It has taken me a long time to embrace rejection because it’s not a fun process, but now I try to look at failure as a validation that I am applying for high level, challenging opportunities. Before I received this grant I had multiple rejection letters for other fellowships as well as jobs. A few years ago, every one of these letters would sting. Now they still sting a little, but they also spur me to apply for more as I continue to learn the importance of failing.”

Related story: Grad Gets Late Fulbright Offer