Fulbright Student Program Blog

Tag Archives: Reach the World

Leveraging Fulbrighters’ Insights for American Classrooms: The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program and Reach the World

Katherine Long, 2016-2017, Tajikistan (right), playing a game with two young Tajik girls.

For nearly ten years, Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have had the opportunity to volunteer with Reach the World (RTW) to share their experiences abroad with pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms back home in the United States.

RTW utilizes the power of virtual exchange to enable Fulbright ETAs, who apply to volunteer with RTW, to bring their host country into an engaged classroom of American students. Fulbright ETAs share many aspects of life in another country with their student audiences in the United States, from grilled meats in Argentina to the unique plant life in the Maltese archipelago. These talented, passionate recent college graduates and early career professionals also capture rare, extraordinary experiences, like visiting the remote Caño Cristales river in Colombia. As young learners from throughout the United States interact with Fulbright ETAs, they are building vital global competencies that will serve them for years to come while challenging their perspectives about the world and their role as citizens. These global competencies include such things as increased geographic literacy and a greater desire to travel, changes in empathetic thinking when encountering difference, and pursuing higher education opportunities.

Breaking Down Stereotypes

Katie Salgado, 2016-2017, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Portugal, sitting on a tiled stoop in Seia

In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.

It was a misty Thursday morning in Seia. I exited the passenger side door of a silver compact car and looked up at the yellow Instituto Politécnico da Guarda (IPG) School of Tourism building. I was with my coworker, Rita, who had asked me to do a presententation to her management students on American culture. This was my first experience teaching English as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to a group of students in Portugal, and I was eager to discover what the students knew about American culture and traditions. Rita and I entered the building and prepared the classroom for the day.

By 9:15 a.m., the freshman students shuffled sleepily into the classroom and took their seats. They exchanged confused glances with one another, unsure of whether to speak to me in English or in Portuguese. I stood there in my black blazer and greeted them with “Good morning, everyone.” Rita sat in the back of the classroom and remained there to observe my presentation. Once the last straggler sat down at his desk, Rita smiled and flashed me a thumbs up. It was time to begin.

I introduced myself to the twenty students in the room and began my PowerPoint presentation on where I was from, my academic background and hobbies.

I then clicked to the next slide: an outline of the United States of America with the red, white and blue flag waving in the background.

Out of the Box: Learning from a New Perspective

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Schuyler Cowan, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany and Reach the World Traveler

In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.

It is important to be able to view a situation or problem from more than one perspective. If you can think about how someone else might resolve a problem, then you may have an easier time solving it. This is why traveling and living abroad are such important experiences. Living in Germany has not only opened my eyes up to new perspectives, but it has also helped me form my own. This is especially true for my work as a language assistant in a German school.

When I first arrived at my school in Germany, I had an idea of what my experience would be like based on books I had read and movies I had seen. Some of these ideas reflected stereotypes about Germany. Stereotypes are popular ideas about places or people that are often exaggerated or wrong. Do you know what any of those stereotypes might have been? Think back to the interview I did with my colleagues, Klaudia and Jana. What did they say about Germans? One of these ideas was that all Germans are punctual. This means that they are always on time and they like discipline. I thought that the classroom environment would be very quiet and strict. I was in for a big surprise!

Finding My Home in Tula

Sarah Owens, Mexico

Sarah Owens, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Mexico

Today, in celebration of Reach the World’s fifth annual Traveler Talk event, we are sharing an excerpt from Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Mexico Sarah Owens’ online journal describing her initial experiences of settling into her new life as an ETA in Mexico. Sarah is also a current participant in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondent program, which through a partnership with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, connects U.S. elementary and secondary school classrooms to ETAs during their grants, and helps students and teachers to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values and thinking skills needed for responsible citizenship in a complex, culturally diverse and rapidly changing world.

My room in Tula now feels a lot more like home. I moved into a building near my university almost five months ago. The building is called a “hotel,” but many people rent rooms like an apartment building. I have my own bedroom and a connected bathroom, which I like because it makes me feel like the room belongs to me. I brought photos and decorations from home to remind me of my friends and family. When I get ready in the morning, I look at a photo of my sister and me from when were six and three years old. This keeps me from feeling homesick during my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Mexico. Being homesick is when you miss being with your family and your friends in your hometown. If you’ve ever gone to a sleepover or an overnight camp, you might have experienced homesickness.

Something I really like about where I live is that university students also rent rooms in the same place. The people who rent rooms share a living room and a kitchen. These areas are our “common spaces.” Since there are other students here, there are people to talk to when I get home from work. I am used to living with other people since I lived in the dormitory when I was in college. Having other people living nearby makes it easier to make friends.