Azerbaijan

Anna Kwidzinska

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“Old, tired, hunched over, sad-looking — drooling,” Dasney said of the Pope. “However, at the same time, still powerful, commanding, dedicated and determined to carry on. Professional. Holy.”

Dasney traveled to Azerbaijan on a Fulbright Grant for Educational and Cultural Exchange. He is the first recipient of this grant to go to Azerbaijan.

“My Fulbright Fellowship was a sort of personal supplement to or extension of my Peace Corps service, albeit on the other side of the Caspian Sea,” Dasney said. ” (It was) a continuation of my life’s interest in foreign languages, international experiences, gratifying overseas work, life in the former Soviet Union. I made great friends in Azerbaijan. I perfected my knowledge of Azeri language. I improved upon myself both personally and professionally to meet the demands of the globalized, multilingual workplace.”

According to Dasney, only 150 Catholics live in Azerbaijan, half of whom are foreigners residing in the capital. With a total population of over seven million, the Pope’s influence is very minimal.

The Pope “is recognized as a world leader, and that is where his influence lies,” Dasney said.

Marquette professors recognize his decision to travel to Azerbaijan as a gutsy one.

“He’s pretty adventurous to go to that part of the world,” said James Scotton, professor of journalism. “He’s much more geographically adventurous than most of us.”

Scotton said he urged other students to follow in Dasney’s path.

“Get out there! See the world!” Scotton said. “You gotta do it while you’re young.”

Senator J. William Fulbright established the grant in 1946. According to the Fulbright Grant for Educational and Cultural Exchange Web site, the goal of this program is to help build international collaboration through a student exchange program. Since the beginning of the program, more than 96,000 American graduate students have studied abroad.

A California native, Dasney received his Master of Arts in Communication at Marquette in 2000. While at Marquette, Dasney interned for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), was a teaching assistant of an introductory public-speaking course and the assistant director of the intercollegiate debate team.

“He was just one of those guys that wanted to take on the world,” said William Thorn, journalism chair, who had Dasney as a pupil early on in his studies.

Dasney came to Marquette on a full scholarship with a stipend from his teaching assistantship. He earned his Master’s degree during his first three semesters at Marquette.

“Having our graduates as recipients of this fellowship bestows upon our university greater international recognition and respect,” Dasney said. “It offers a growth experience beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, and a resume builder second to none.”

Dasney said he later studied at Indiana University’s Bloomington Graduate School, where he completed three Summer Workshop in Slavic and East European Language tours. Dasney is fluent in Russian, Uzbek, Turkmen and Azeri. He also worked in the U.S. Peace Corps in Turkmenistan between 1996 and 1998. He is presently a U.S. Department of State political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.

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