UNCW Welcomes International Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Fellows

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Thirteen international fellows from the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program arrived Jan. 28 for an academic and cultural exchange program that will include studies in the Watson College of Education, working with public schools in southeastern North Carolina as well as cultural exchange opportunities.
UNCW is one of two universities nationwide that have received grants to host fellows from the program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Funding is provided by the U.S. government and is administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board.
Jennifer Fernandez-Villa, director of International Student & Scholar Services in the Office of International Programs, and Amy Garrett Dikkers, associate professor of educational leadership in WCE, are co-directors of the UNCW Fulbright TEA program and co-recipients of the $292,100 grant that supports it.
The fellows are teachers in their home countries and came to learn about American education, obtain field experience in local schools and participate in culture sharing, said Fernandez-Villa. This is the third year UNCW has hosted the Fulbright TEA program.
This year’s fellows hail from Belarus, Egypt, Ghana, Honduras, Iraq, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uruguay, and they all teach English in their home countries. Kazakhstan and Tunisia each have two fellows.
“These fellows are all passionate, hardworking teachers,” said Fernandez-Villa. “This is a highly sought-after program and has a strong impact on the fellows and their local communities.”
Fellows will spend a few weeks in Wilmington before returning home in March. While here, they will work with local teachers, but because the pandemic has necessitated changes in instructional delivery, most of their interaction with students will be remote. Technology also makes it possible for the Fulbright TEA fellows to enrich the education of students in rural parts of southeastern North Carolina. Fellows will work in Duplin and Sampson counties, as well as New Hanover. Other counties may be added.
“The Fulbright TEA Fellows program allows the Watson College of Education to partner with our K-12 districts by bringing multicultural experiences directly into local classrooms,” Garrett Dikkers said. “This experience is more important than ever to remind us all of our human connection during a time when we are living virtually and may be feeling disconnected from the outside world.”
Fellows also will be paired with a local family to facilitate sharing of cultures.
Fostering global learning and research is one of the goals of UNCW’s Strategic Plan.
-- Tricia Vance

International Fulbright Teaching Excellence fellows stand socially distanced in front of Hoggard Hall.
UNCW is playing host to 13 Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program fellows who represent 11 countries. The fellows, who are teachers in their home countries, will take courses at UNCW, work with students in southeastern North Carolina and participate in cultural exchanges. (Photo by Jennifer Fernandez-Villa)