Center for International Law Welcomes Two Fulbright Scholars

Ivan Genchev (left) of Bulgaria and Kristaq Profkola (right) of Albania are Fulbright Scholars at The John Marshall Law School.

Ivan Genchev (left) of Bulgaria and Kristaq Profkola (right) of Albania are Fulbright Scholars at The John Marshall Law School.

Sure, Chicago’s cold winters can be tough, but two international Fulbright Scholars say they’ve warmed up to John Marshall’s faculty and their more personal approach to teaching.

Ivan Genchev, of Bulgaria, completed his college studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, and Albania’s Kristaq Profkola received a law degree at Italy’s University of Bologna and an LLM in European Law at the University of Ghent in Belgium. They are enrolled as Fulbright Scholars at John Marshall and will complete LLM degrees through the Center for International Law.

Profkola, 32, had returned from Italy to Albania and was working for a large law firm doing corporate and business law, before accepting a position as head of Legal Affairs for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection of Albania. He dealt with legislation relating to compliance with a variety of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and regulations. Profkola decided to apply for the Fulbright so that he could expand his legal knowledge in international trade.

Genchev, 26, applied for a Fulbright while still a student in Paris where he has lived the past five years studying law. It is after earning a law master’s degree that Europeans can qualify for the bar exam. Genchev’s J.D. equivalent degree is in European Union Law and his master’s is in International Economics Law.

The Fulbright application process takes about 18 months. Applications are reviewed by the Institute for International Education (IIE). Profkola and Genchev had to declare their major areas of interest, and IIE assigned them to John Marshall’s Center for International Law.

Although neither scholar knew much about John Marshall, both say the choice has been perfect for them, saying the curriculum is interesting and the faculty and students are engaging.

“We are very close to the professors here. They call you by name in class. They will have conversations with you. The distance between the students and the professor in Europe is so different,” Genchev said. “We may have professors teaching us who are well-known lawyers, but they just lecture for 90 minutes and leave. There is no connection to the students. They would never know me personally.”

“Classroom work is very different here, as well,” Profkola said. “In Europe, for a typical class, you get a book and you can read it and prepare for the exam, or you can go to class and listen to the lecture. Here I’m reading through the materials so I can be prepared for the class. We are writing papers and being called on.”

Although the U.S. style has taken some getting used to, both say the professors have been supportive and interesting. Both scholars say they recognize a passion for teaching in their professors. “Here we go to class with pleasure,” Profkola said. This is the first time the two have traveled to the U.S. They are enjoying their stay in  the Lincoln Park neighborhood where they are living, although they are adjusting to the colder temperatures.

“Despite the cold weather, people are really warm and welcoming and they smile at you a lot. I cannot say the same thing about Paris,” Genchev said. “Chicago is a great place to visit and live. I find it is an amazing city.” He has been able to enjoy jazz at Kingston Mines, and “I was able to fulfill one of my dreams when I went to listen to Buddy Guy performing here in Chicago.”

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