ATLANTA—Several College of Education & Human Development faculty and staff members worked with Georgia State University’s Office of International Initiatives and the Intensive English Program in the Department of Applied Linguistics to host a group of international teachers on campus fall semester.
The Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program is a six-week, U.S. Department of State-sponsored, highly selective initiative that brings teachers from other countries to a host university for professional development.
As part of this program, Georgia State welcomed 21 teachers from 19 countries to the university’s Atlanta campus for several academic and cultural activities. This included observing teachers in local public high school classrooms; participating in training sessions on teaching practices, research and technology; visiting Atlanta-area landmarks; and developing lesson plans and national-level initiatives they could take back to their home countries.
For the College of Education & Human Development’s part, Associate Professor Sue Kasun, Assistant Professor Garrett Delavan, retired associate dean Gwen Benson, Susan Ogletree, director of the college’s Center for Evaluation and Research, and CEHD graduate student Nozipho Moyo led sessions and appreciated the opportunity to work with and learn from this group of international teachers.
“During one of my classes, our teacher from Tanzania described how he broke gender taboos to allow female students to share their challenges – academically and emotionally – with him. He built his own NGO as a result,” Kasun said. “A Cameroonian teacher then shared how she established a STEM club for girls at her school, also partly to undo taboos and stereotypes surrounding girls in science. The other Fulbright educators and I all learned lessons on how to create educational spaces of learning that challenge social structures that otherwise limit what’s possible.”
Benson, Kasun and Ogletree also hosted dinners at their homes for the teachers. Kasun’s neighbor taught the group how to carve pumpkins around Halloween, which was one of her favorite moments from the six-week program.
“While my Fulbright participants got to do something they have only ever seen in movies, something so simple, my friends and neighbors who attended commented on how much they learned from the international guests. They said it was the richest cultural event some of them had ever attended,” Kasun said.
These connections among people from different countries and cultural backgrounds benefit everyone involved, and Kasun is looking forward to participating in the Fulbright program again.
“Some of the educators were teachers of the year for their home country at the national level. These educators greatly impact efforts to devise their countries’ national curriculum. That means the best of what we do at Georgia State is cross-pollinated with the best of what teachers from 19 countries do,” she said. “We renewed the grant with the State Department for next year, and I am full of additional possibilities for creating additional international pathways of learning and sharing.”