The Fulbright Experience

When I received the Global Classroom Fulbright Fellowship I was ecstatic because the program outline aligned with my teaching philosophy and I was excited to meet and exchange ideas with educators across the United States. I would be remiss to highlight the fact the news came as we were winding down the dreadful COVID summer of 2020 and this news lifted my spirits and reenergized me for the upcoming academic year (although at the time, we still weren’t sure what that would look like).

One of the essential goals of Fulbright TGC is bring an international perspective into US classrooms, schools and communities. Thanks to globalization trends our ability to adapt to the existing global market on an economic scale is important, however, more importantly in the eyes of an educator is the student collaboration and understanding that is born within a global classroom.

I often get asked about the Fulbright experience and I would like to share some personal gems on what it was like to go through the academic portion of the program (take note, at the time of this writing the travel portion has been postponed due to COVID).

Online Global Education Course

Part I of the program included an intensive 10-week online course in which our knowledge on global education increased tremendously. Topics included information on global competencies skills, the impact of global education on classrooms and students, and most beautifully we heard from TGC alumni on their international travel experiences, what they implemented in their own communities as a result of the travel. Presentations from experts in the field of global education were also an integral part of the program. which highlighted the necessity for globalized classrooms, and what is at state if we do not adapt.

The online programming coincided with our fully remote teaching. The assigned readings along with our weekly Zoom session was the gift I needed as an educator during a tremendously difficult year. Our online gatherings, learning and growing as educators kept me inspired, full of energy and ready to go for myself and students during a traumatic year.

The 11 nations of North America – Colin Woodard

It was amazing connecting with educators across the US, I am here in New Jersey and have always been a tri-state area gal so connecting with educators from different regions has been enlightening. Even as an adult, I have to constantly remind myself that reading text is very different than experiencing it first hand. For instance, I have read and taught about Colin Woodard’s US ethnoregional theory, in essence describing the cultural development of each US region and each region’s particular character and identity. Engaging with educators across the US, discussing educational pedagogy and even how school systems dealt with the pandemic are all reflective of each region’s specific identity. This learning experience is yet another prime example on how individuals (including adults!) learn by doing.

Along the journey, there was a reaffirmation in the importance of “thought-partners” a term used by our cohort’s mentor often. I can not underscore the importance of having a thought-partner in bouncing around ideas, developing lessons or programs which are implementable in classrooms and school communities. The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program gave 71 American educators in the 2020-2021 cohort the time and space to learn, think and develop ideas on global education.

What remains is the travel component of the program which has been postponed to the summer of 2022, and I can only imagine the learning, growth and thought partnering that will come from the international experience.

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