Fulbrighters are mission-driven, believing that there is a real need in the United States for deeper international understanding to fight xenophobia and prejudice and to promote peace. That is why dozens of Fulbright Association members participated in “Fulbright in the Classroom” in 2021, giving 110 presentations to over 2,000 students nationwide, sharing their experiences, love, and knowledge of other countries. Thanks to the generosity of Van Otterloo Family Foundation, which provided the FIC grant that made many presentations possible.
Caterina Zischke-Rincon, a Fulbrighter to Colombia and a musical educator, described her experience at three elementary schools in Denver, all serving under-represented communities, this way:
I began my presentation with community building to allow students the chance to share a bit more about themselves. As a class, we then explored Colombia’s unique geography and culture. We also talked about the country’s incredible biodiversity, from vibrant tropical plants to interesting animals and much more. Students then paired up with a fellow classmate to discuss what most interested them about the presentation thus far and why. The final section of the presentation focused on Colombia’s rich artistic traditions, including paintings by Pedro Ruiz and music by Totó La Momposina. It was beautiful to observe the class reflecting on and engaging with the presentation.
Fulbright in the Classroom has had a powerful effect in rural areas, too. Susan Barfield, a Fulbrighter to Chile, Slovakia and Lithuania, tells this story:
I presented in a 2-room school in rural Montana; one room was K-3 and the other 4-8 with a total of 12 students. I brought many authentic Mapuche materials from southern Chile such as Mapuche musical instruments; videos of traditional dress, dancing, and music; jewelry; weaving examples of traditional clothing, and Chilean candy.
This year, the program expanded to include college audiences, like those at Texas State University. There, Fulbrighter Grace Mukupa, connected virtually to more than sixty students in two classes. Like Susan, she focused on cultural understanding, especially the power of food to build community:
My presentation was more like storytelling; I incorporated my cultural experiences in Tajikistan, including food. Then I divided each class into two breakout rooms and asked the professor to lead the other room. The students shared cultural foods ideas that they would share at their Fulbright host countries. Finally, we came back together in a bigger room and shared why they chose those dishes and what they wanted their host family to learn about them and their culture through the choice of food.
Caterina, Susan, and Grace received Fulbright in the Classroom grants as individuals, but Association chapters also participated, such as the Louisiana Chapter, led by Patrice Moulton. Patrice gave a presentation to first-generation students at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and reflected on the impact:
Watching and feeling a group of first-generation college students engage interactively in a discussion about the lessons and possibilities of global exchange was exhilarating! The students really connected when I told them of my experience in Nepal and then shared that, I too am a first-generation college graduate. I know how it feels to think that travel is for other people. I remember what it felt like to believe that “a girl like me” didn’t have those kinds of opportunities. When I shared this the room changed, there was eye contact and looks of interest, curiosity, and possibly hope.
Sharing hope and understanding is a powerful experience for these Fulbright alumni, reconnecting them to the central mission of the Fulbright Program. The added focus of Fulbright on the Classroom to inspire more diversity in international life generally, and among future Fulbrighters, is timely, powerful, and important.
We invite you to join the list of Fulbrighters below who participated in Fulbright in the Classroom last year (if we’ve missed you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org). You can do that as the recipient of a FIC Grant, thanks to the generosity of Rose-Marie Van Otterloo, through your local chapter, or just on your own. Our FIC Tool Kit offers lots of resources to do this, and you can always email email@example.com for more information or see a list of FAQs.
Many thanks to our FIC presenters!
|Sofiane Akoubi||Nicole Jefferson||Grace Mukupa|
|Alex Akulli||Joshua Krisinger||Rhonda Petree|
|Jairo Viales Angulo||Carol Larroque||Zachary Senwo|
|Susan Barfield||Leland Lazarus||Rachel Shriver|
|Vincent Briley||Harald Leder||Richard Shrubb|
|Paula Faulkner||Heather Massie||Andrew Stinavage|
|Stefani Feldman||Suzanne McBride||Maria Willhoit|
|Rose Honegger||Gaurav Misra||Rachael Williams|
|Claire Jagla||Patrice Moulton||Caterina Zischke-Rincon|