Thanks to a Fulbright grant, Alex Benkhart ’11 spent his first year out of Hamilton College in Oita, Japan, studying the role of Internet forums in rural gay communities. “The Fulbright year was amazing. Not only did I get the opportunity to study something that is both important and really interesting, I also had a great year just being in Japan. I met a lot of people through research and interviews as well as by simply living in a small community,” says Benkhart, who majored in Asian and religious studies at Hamilton.

He spent the post-Fulbright year teaching English, continuing his research and taking part in local LGBT groups. He still lives in Oita, teaching English to prekindergarten students and planning for grad school in development studies.

Benhart says the research opportunities at Hamilton were good preparation for the Fulbright. “Fellow Hamilton alumni and I often talk about all the opportunities we had to practice writing research proposals and applying for grants during our undergrad,” he says.

The chances to work independently are what stand out the most when he looks back at his time at Hamilton. He concedes that it may not sound thrilling but some of his best memories are of struggling to put together a coherent thesis for his Emerson grant project and spending hours in the library working on Associate Professor Kyoko Omori's Japanese silent film archive with the Digital Humanities Initiative.

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