Today’s guest post is by Lynne Streyer Noble (M.Ed. ’74, Ed.D. ’80 Elem Ed), professor of early childhood education at Columbia College in South Carolina. Noble is a Fulbright Scholar. Read her blog about her 2011 trip to Mongolia.
Become A Global Citizen
J. William Fulbright wrote, “In the long course of history, having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine.” His legacy is a myriad of programs all designed to provide that global understanding. I would commend to all Curry School grads any of the Fulbright programs available to you. As graduates of UVa, I know you are life-long learners, full of curiosity about the wider world, and you have a lot to share, as well. Fulbright programs offer you the opportunity to satisfy all these characteristics.
As I write this, I am sitting in my apartment in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia nearing the end of my six-month tenure as a Fulbright Scholar at the Mongolian State University of Education. This has been an amazing adventure – each day brings new places, new people, new ideas, new possibilities. My colleagues and I revel in the opportunities to teach each other. Together, we work on English and Mongolian. I introduce new teaching methods and they “Mongolize” them, as they call it. I show them how to teach the application of theory to the classroom, and they then eagerly develop their own activities. I try to get them to plan ahead, and they try to get me to go with the flow. We have accomplished a lot, including signing a five-year agreement to exchange faculty and students between my Columbia College and the MSUE.
I have been involved in teaching, research, writing and, of course, learning. I have been able to travel to the north, south, east and west of UB – sometimes for business (teaching) and always for pleasure. Family, friends, colleagues and students have visited me here – after it warmed up, of course! They share my love of Mongolia.
I have also had the chance to see other Fulbright programs in action. There are a number of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants here in UB, recent college grads who are able to live abroad and teach English, while honing language skills, increasing knowledge of the host country and continuing their own research and study. In addition, our Embassy me to participate in reading applications from and conducting interviews with Mongolian professionals wishing to pursue a Master’s degree at an American institution. I know that the women and men we chose for this opportunity will make a positive impact on their American hosts, and will come to be important players in Mongolia’s future when they return.
All educators have the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright-Hays program. In 2004, I was fortunate to be chosen as a group member for a month in Lithuania, Latvia and St. Petersburg. In our group were faculty from several colleges and universities, and many public school classroom teachers – all grades, as well as school administrators. Faculty from local universities in the cities we visited delivered lectures, hosts arranged wonderful traveling experiences, and we made connections to our own fields of study as we went. Some were gathering folk tales, some were accumulating musical instruments, and others were focusing on the history or current social status as fodder for courses. I pursued the current role of women in these countries in order to develop a seminar for our honors program. And, of course, I took special note of educational policy and practice in each place.
School teachers, in particular, have the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. This is a direct exchange of job, house, etc. While living in Northern Ireland in 1996, I met a teacher from New York who had “exchanged” with a teacher in NI. We were both taking bodhran (drum) lessons, and she was thoroughly enjoying and being challenged by her new teaching and living situation, as was her exchange mate, then in America.
Fulbright was clearly ahead of his time. He recognized the need for global understanding – real hands-on experiences, not just academic knowledge. He made it possible for, by now, thousands of educators to be exposed to new and inspiring cultures, forge strong and lasting relationships across the world, and use knowledge of these places and people in their work. You already have the distinction of being a Curry School graduate. Now, I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to become a global citizen and pursue participation in a Fulbright program.
Lynne’s post was submitted last June to the Fall 2011 Curry Alumni Writing Contest. To submit an entry in the next contest round, go to curry.virginia.edu/writing-contest