One of the most gratifying experiences and fondest memory I have had as a Fulbright Specialist working in Uganda and India was to teach my undergraduate and graduate education students how to construct and perform with 12’ Giant Puppets that celebrated historically important people in their respective cultures. This highly motivating and engaging technique focused on bringing alive important concepts in the Social Studies curriculum with an emphasis on doing research, strengthening vocabulary, improving oral expression and voice projection, enhancing critical thinking, problem solving and critiquing skills. It also demonstrated the fact that by using one’s imagination and incorporating simple building techniques, one does not have to spend a lot of money to create art projects that can reinforce the school curriculum. We used recycled materials, e.g., discarded fabric and yarn, cardboard rolls, string and paint. After constructing the Giant Puppets, the students performed in street parades. This provided well deserved recognition to the students while increasing public awareness about the historical figures who were greatly admired in each country. The project attracted positive attention for the local communities as well as the media and my students were interviewed by the press and television to great acclaim!
The Giant Puppet project built trust, was culturally sensitive, practical, affordable and tailored to meet the needs of each of the country’s educational priorities—- and brought to life Fulbright goals we strive to achieve in our work.
Carol Sterling – Fulbright to Uganda 2012 & India 2015