Fulbright in the Classroom FAQs

What is the mission of Fulbright in the Classroom?

To teach K-12 students about other countries, helping them appreciate cultural differences, understand our common humanity, and see the value of travel and international education.

Why should I volunteer? 

Sharing your experiences will be fun and rewarding.  It will be an extension of your Fulbright mission to promote international understanding.  And you can think of yourself as a “public good,” given a great opportunity by your fellow citizens.  You’ll feel good that you’re a continuing resource to the U.S., giving back to communities who helped pay for your Fulbright.

Why is Fulbright in the Classroom important? 

Too many students, such as those in rural areas and outside major cities, have no direct exposure to foreign cultures.  Fulbrighters, in sharing our love and respect for other countries, can build international understanding that prevents xenophobia and other forms of prejudice.

Who can participate?

All Fulbrighters are welcome to participate, especially recent returning students and visiting grantees. You can give students a personal perspective on cultures around the world in a way that is uniquely Fulbright. You can bring international music, traditions, foods, lifestyles, religions, histories to U.S. classrooms.

 

Do I have to have experience working in a school or as a teacher to participate in the program?

You may have little or no experience with K-12 students. You may have never been in an American classroom. Don’t worry. You’re bringing something new and special to the daily classroom routine. One thing you should remember. This should not be a lecture but a conversation that incorporates their questions. Interrupt yourself regularly to ask them questions: how is this different from your life? What do you think about this? How would you feel if you experienced what I did?

 

How do I decide where to volunteer?

We recommend volunteering in a local school in your community. We have found that reaching out directly to teachers at a local school is the best way to initiate your visit, rather than asking a principal, main office or school system. You need an advocate and a teaching partner, so a teacher is your best resource. Middle and high schools have been most receptive to this program, but you may have a special connection at a local elementary school. 

 

How do I make contact with a school or teacher?

If you don’t know a teacher, ask your friends or neighbors for suggestions. You will find teacher email addresses in the faculty directory of your local school. Those who teach social studies and/or foreign languages are most receptive, but if your specialty is in the arts or sciences, consider outreach to those faculty. Use the “Teacher Introduction Letter” template in the Fulbright in the Classroom toolkit to introduce yourself and the program.

 

What do I need to do to prepare?

Schools and school systems vary a lot in their policies on visitors. Many schools simply need a note from the teacher explaining your visit. Some require volunteers to attend an orientation or get finger-printed. Ask your teacher/host first and then consult the school’s office, and then follow their procedures. After that, gather the materials you’ll share. Keep the focus on your story and perspective. Avoid lecturing by asking questions and keeping it interactive.

What do I talk about when I visit a classroom?

Focus your stories on the culture of the country you visited (or the country you come from, if you’re a visiting Fulbrighter): food, friendships, holidays, history, music, family, religions.  You are there to teach them about a country, sharing your adventures, not about your area of study or expertise.

Do I share with them my work or research? 

You should explain that you went on a Fulbright, explaining what that is, and that you worked on a particular project.  Talk about that project briefly, as it gave you the opportunity to travel and learn. But your primary focus should be on the country and the cultural experiences you had as those will be more universally interesting to K-12 students.

What type of content should I share?

The content you will share—stories, lessons—with the students, of course, is very important. Focus on what you can contribute that will be unique and new. Give the teacher examples of stories you might tell, items you could share, and insights you can offer. Being transparent and coordinated will help the teacher prepare students for your visit and explain your presence to others, such as parents or administrators.

 

What types of materials should I bring?

Depending on how recently you had a Fulbright, which might be right now if you’re a visiting grantee, finding materials to share may or may not be a challenge. As you’ll be a one-time visitor, with little time (likely one class period), you can make the greatest impact by focusing on the visual—great photos, short video clips, and objects that come from another country. Showing a mix of these media, making sure you show images that portray the personal and cultural—food, traditions, rituals, friends—rather than tourist shots they can see online. If you can bring objects they can hold, without worry of damage, such as artwork or games, that will be memorable. And try to organize all these materials—and the stories you tell—into themes or timelines.

 

Do I need to get permission to take photos or videos of students?

Yes.  We would like to share photos and/or videos with our community and to promote the program.  Unless a teacher tells you otherwise, please share with them this Photo Release Form to collect from parents in advance of your visit.

 

How should I follow up?

After your volunteer day, remember to send a thank you note to your teacher, their department chair and school’s principal. Provided that you have gotten permission to take pictures or videos, please get some images to share and post. The teacher/host can help with this or even a student using your phone or camera. Try to get images with the Fulbright logo in them, but it’s more important to capture the energy as best you can.  Please email these images to lisa@fulbright.org and feel free to share online (Facebook, the Fulbrighter app) by using the hashtag #FulbrightintheClassroom.

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