Davenport professor Christopher Hamstra, PhD. has always tried to abide by the word “efcharisto,” the Greek word for “thanks,” a constant reminder of the importance of living in each moment with gratitude and appreciation. For Hamstra, who has taught Communications at Davenport for 19 years, this has been his philosophy not only in the classroom but in his personal life as well.
Hamstra said he is incredibly thankful for being appointed a Fulbright Specialist twice in his educational career.
The Fulbright Scholar program enables U.S. scholars to travel abroad to study, teach, exchange ideas, and then return home to share what they’ve learned with their colleagues and students. Fulbright scholars are recognized for their commitment to higher education, and receiving a Fulbright award is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a college educator.
The opportunity to meet, live, interact, and learn from people in their host countries is an experience Hamstra will never forget.
“I never in my wildest dreams would have believed I would be here now with two Fulbright specialists under my belt,” Hamstra said.
Hamstra’s most recent Fulbright experience took him to Athens, Greece, after visiting Iceland in 2019. His first Fulbright was made possible in part through an M.E. Davenport Legacy Endowment Award, which was created to advance the educational, professional and civic mission at Davenport University. “Because of this important stepping stone and funds from the Legacy Endowment, I was able to gain international experience which made the 2023 Fulbright Specialist a reality.”
Fulbright offers two separate programs for their scholars- Fulbright Core, which generally lasts about six months, and Fulbright Specialist, which is usually a few weeks long. During both of Hamstra’s Fulbright travels, he took part in the Fulbright Specialist programs.
During his time at Panteion, Hamstra gave two lectures on leadership for students of the Management and Organizational Behavior and Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Lab, which is led by Assistant Professor Dimitra Iordanoglou.
Iordanoglou, director of Communication, Media, and Culture at Panteion University, expressed her gratitude to Hamstra for his work at the university. “Christopher Hamstra’s visit to Panteion University as a Fulbright Specialist was constructive and mutually beneficial,” said Iordanoglou. “We were very happy to have him with us and have already explored opportunities to continue our collaboration.”
Nicholas Tourides, educational advisor & American program coordinator with Fulbright Greece, said Hamstra was great to work with. “Chris’ lectures were well received by the students,” Tourides said.“His approach to storytelling was simple, to the point, and engaging. The Fulbright Program and Greece have gained an ambassador and a friend.”
For Hamstra, his experience in Greece has given him greater insight into how to face current issues facing higher education in America that he can now implement in Davenport’s classrooms.
“In the United States today, we are so focused on measures and hitting standards, and they are important, don’t get me wrong, but I also think we need to relax a little bit. One of the joys of higher ed for me is to make sure we are hitting our benchmarks, but I also think we need to [just] let learning happen… we need to understand that people do not learn at the same pace.”
During his downtime, Hamstra took many moments of “efcharisto”, learning outside of the walls of the university, visiting Santorini, the Acropolis, and enjoying a cup of coffee on the streets of Hydra with his wife, Dawnette.
Hamstra is now eager to employ at Davenport all the things he learned during his time in Greece and is optimistic about the impact of education. “I’m a big believer that education can bring the world together, and that’s what originally drew me to the Fulbright opportunity”.
If you are interested in learning more about Fulbright Specialist or Fulbright Core, please visit this link. If you would like to read more about Christopher Hamstra’s experience in the program, you can visit his LinkedIn article by clicking here.