What is the mission of Fulbright in the Classroom?
To teach K-through-college students about other countries, helping them appreciate cultural differences, understand our common humanity, and see the value of travel and international education. “FIC” will also expose students to the Fulbright Program, especially those from under-represented communities. But this is not primarily a recruitment program. Not everyone can be Fulbrighter but everyone can gain mutual understanding and cultural respect.
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 America, giving back to communities who helped pay for your Fulbright.
Why is Fulbright in the Classroom important?
Too many students, especially 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. The Fulbright Program is not yet fully representative of all Americans, so raising its profile will help solve this problem over time.
Who can participate?
All Fulbrighters are welcome to participate, especially recently returning students and ETAs, and visiting grantees. You can give K-through-college students a personal perspective on cultures around the world in a way that is uniquely Fulbright. You can bring a personal perspective on cultures around the world—music, traditions, foods, lifestyles, religions, histories—to U.S. classrooms.
Do I participate with FIC in-person or digitally (by Zoom, etc.)?
Because of the pandemic, FIC will be conducted digitally in the spring of 2021. We will reassess conditions with the hope of in-person visits in the fall, but digital connections will remain feasible and often preferable.
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 teaching, especially 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?
Will the Fulbright Association help me find a classroom or prepare me for my presentation?
No. As a small non-profit, we have to rely on our FIC volunteers to make arrangements to visit a classroom virtually or in-person and make their presentations. This website has a toolkit to help you, and you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. But we need your help to make this service program a success, and we are grateful for your time and commitment.
How do I decide where to volunteer?
We recommend volunteering for a local school or college. If you’re targeting a K-12 school, 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. Consider local community colleges, HBCUs and other small higher education institutions, too. All of them will have websites to identify faculty partners.
How do I make contact with a school or teacher?
If you don’t know local school or college faculty, ask your friends or neighbors for suggestions. You will find teacher and professor email addresses in the faculty directory of your local school or college. Those who teach social sciences and/or foreign languages are most receptive, but if your specialty is in the arts or sciences, consider outreach to those faculty. Use the “First Contact Email” 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 in-person visitors, though this is a moot issue for digital connection. Many schools simply need a note from the teacher explaining your visit. Some require volunteers to attend an orientation or get finger-printed. Colleges generally have no restrictions. Ask your teacher/professor/host first and then follow their advice, which may include contacting the school’s office, and then follow their procedures. After that, gather the materials you’ll share digitally or in-person. 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-through-college 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 or professor examples of stories you might tell, items you could share, and insights you can offer. Being transparent and coordinated will help faculty prepare students for your visit and explain your presence to others, such as parents or administrators.
What types of materials should I show online or bring with me?
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 or meeting), 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 are visiting in-person, 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, for K-12 students. 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 experience, remember to send a thank you note to your teacher or professor, perhaps their department chair and school’s principal or the college’s provost or president. Provided that you have gotten permission to take pictures or videos, please get some images to share and post. The faculty/host can help with this or even a student using your phone or camera. Take a screenshot when presenting online. Try to get images with the Fulbright in the Classroom logo in them, but it’s more important to capture the energy as best you can. Please email these images to email@example.com and feel free to share online (Facebook, the Fulbrighter app) by using the hashtag #FulbrightintheClassroom. It’s important to report on how the experience went, including how many students you reached. Please click here to complete the Post-Event Reflection.