The McNair Program is happy to announce its new Associate Director. Dr. Joseph Orser has worked in higher education for 18 years and before that spent almost 10 years in journalism in Florida and Thailand. He first joined the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire in 2010, teaching courses for the Department of History, the Honors Program, and the Blugold Writing Seminar. In addition to his work in the classroom, Dr. Orser has served as faculty leader on Hmong studies immersion experiences to Thailand and China, and as program director for an international internship program in London.
Interns Max Hall and Claire Bradley had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Orser to ask him a few questions about his new engagement with the program.
What are you looking forward to the most about working with the McNair program?
“I’m especially excited for the opportunity to work with student researchers. Experiential learning, including research, is very important to student success. And for the students that McNair serves, the skills and knowledge developed through their research will prove so useful as they move on to graduate school, or law school, or medical school, or in the professional world. Regardless of where they end up, my goal is for all McNair scholars to thrive once they graduate.”
What is most rewarding about working within the McNair program?
“Talking with students about their work and their lives. I find it inspirational to hear about their unique perspectives beyond school, the overwhelming amount of work they do, and the obstacles they overcome, all while producing such high quality work. It motivates me to push harder in my own research, and also to redouble my efforts to serve them as best I can.”
What are you currently working on?
“I am a social and cultural historian of Asian America, on the one hand, and the U.S. experience in Southeast Asia, on the other. Right now, I’m working on a book project that examines Americans, Europeans, and Eurasians in Bangkok in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The study traces fluid constructions of identity, authenticity, and citizenship, demonstrating how individuals developed strategies of hybridity that allowed them to navigate and shape intercultural contact zones.”
By Claire Bradley, Max Hall, and Anna Wendorff