Teachers from all over the world are visiting northern Nevada in an exchange of cultures, teaching practices and friendship. The University of Nevada, Reno College of Education, which received a Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement grant from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is hosting twenty secondary level teachers from 19 countries to participate in a six-week, intensive professional development program that ends Oct. 28.
On Saturday, Oct. 26 the program will hold ceremonies at the Harrah’s Automobile Museum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fellows, teachers and staff will share personal stories about the impact of the program on themselves, the schools and the community.
The program focuses on teacher leadership, advanced teaching methods and technology. This group of teachers, who competed with thousands of applicants from around the world to be selected for this prestigious award, bring worldly experiences into the Nevada community and the classroom.
The Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program brings international teachers to a host university in the United States for a six-week program that offers academic seminars for professional development in teaching methods, content area knowledge, and technology. The participants also observe classrooms and co-teach, sharing their expertise with teachers and students at the host university and at local secondary schools.
The Fulbright Fellows are partnered with Washoe County School District teachers and are in classrooms two days a week throughout the program. They also participate with University graduate students in global education research. Additionally, in conjunction with the Northern Nevada International Center, the Fellows participate in cultural events and are connected to a community friendship family.
"Over the past decade or so, we have witnessed our global connection increasing significantly," Donald Easton-Brooks, dean of the University's College of Education, said. "It is an honor to have our college host such a dynamic group of educators from around the world as we engage in collective, innovative and culturally active learning opportunities. This outreach introduces us as one of the up and coming world-class Colleges of Education."
The teaching fellows will attend workshops in the College of Education and shadow the mathematics, English and foreign language teachers in middle and high schools within the Washoe County School District.
The fellows are highly experienced master teachers in their own countries who must compete in a rigorous application process for selection. The Fulbright TEA Fellows visiting the University of Nevada, Reno represent the following countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, India, Lithuania, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
"Having the fellows here just really brings the world to our door," Jennifer Mahon, project director and associate professor in the College of Education, said. "It really is a win-win program. Not only do the Fulbright Fellows learn about the U.S. and our educational system, but they also broaden our understanding of a wider variety of cultures and of teaching and learning practices. Students and teachers from kindergarten to college get the opportunity to work with these wonderful people."
The program allows the international teachers to learn different teaching approaches, use technology in the classroom and better understand the education system in the United States, while at the same time sharing their own culture and expertise with a wide array of people from northern Nevada. In addition to their activities at the University and the middle and secondary schools, the fellows will complete community service activities, be hosted by local families and take part in cultural activities.
"We all understand that our world has become global and complex," Mahon said. "It is one thing to visit with people from other countries through social media, but it is an entirely different and deeper experience to have them on our campus, in our classrooms, and in our homes for six weeks. We hear so much in the media about this country and that country, but only through person-to-person contact can we ever really know the human side of the story.”
“One of the greatest thing about this program is that both the fellows and Americans get to know about our everyday life, about things we share – what it's like to go to work, put dinner on the table, or do homework, and to talk about our families, about the hopes and dreams we have for our kids...then I think people get a true understanding of the magnitude of this program."
The TEA Fellows also enjoyed a heavy cultural component of the program, which includes: visiting San Francisco, spending time in Lake Tahoe, attending a University football game, seeing Pyramid Lake, and being home-hosted for Friday Night Dinners.
“The Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (Fulbright TEA) is a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.”
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) designs and implements educational, professional, and cultural exchange and other programs that create and sustain the mutual understanding with other countries necessary to advancing United States foreign policy goals. Under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Marie Royce, ECA programs cultivate people-to-people ties among current and future global leaders that build enduring networks and personal relationships and promote U.S. national security and values.
IREX invests in human potential and promotes conditions that lead to more just, prosperous, and inclusive societies. IREX does this by empowering youth, cultivating leaders at all levels of society, strengthening institutions, and extending access to quality education and information. These four elements of our strategy are mutually reinforcing and, together, catalytic forces for positive change.