UNCW Receives State Department Grant for Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program

Monday, February 14, 2022

UNCW is currently home to 17 visiting international high school teachers from 13 different countries who are part of the latest cohort of the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program, a global education program funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Faculty members Dr. Jennifer Fernandez-Villa, UNCW director of the Office of International Students & Scholars, and Dr. Donyell L. Roseboro, UNCW chief diversity officer and professor, were awarded a grant for more than $340,000 to facilitate Fulbright TEA. This is the fourth year UNCW has been selected to participate in this highly competitive program.  

“We are so proud to host these teachers in person, especially since last year we were facing the challenges of the pandemic and Zoom,” said Dr. Fernandez-Villa. “Our goal is to give them educational opportunities that they can learn from, both professionally and personally, and then bring it all back to their countries. In exchange, our students and teachers will also be learning from them, feeling energized and connected globally.”

After an extensive application process that can last a year or more, the Fulbright TEA fellows spend six weeks immersed in learning to develop greater expertise in their subject areas; enhance their teaching skills; and increase their knowledge about the United States.  

The experience is three-fold. Participants juggle a busy schedule that includes taking classes on topics that include general education and pedagogy; technology; and discipline-specific courses in English, English as a Second Language and Social Studies.

TEA Program fellows also spend a large portion of their visit doing fieldwork, observing and co-teaching at New Hanover County high schools.

The third component of Fulbright TEA is cultural enrichment, which includes everyday tasks like grocery shopping; excursions like a Cape Fear River dinner cruise; and events like a Seahawk basketball game or a Super Bowl party. Each teacher is paired with a “Friendship Family,” a local volunteer host family that supports them in a variety of ways during their stay.

Following a closing ceremony where final projects are presented, the teachers return to their home countries where the impact of Fulbright TEA can be far-reaching, according to Dr. Roseboro.

“Education is one of the most powerful spheres of influence and possibility in the world,” she explained. “The Fulbright TEA Fellows are coming from all over the world from places like Vietnam, Iraq, India and Ethiopia. It is inspiring to witness how learning crosses borders and connects us all. Despite the challenges of disasters, pandemics and different forms of government, education shows us there are still places where we can come together in hope.”

Dr. Fernandez-Villa describes the program’s closing ceremony as an opportunity to acknowledge the many ways the Fulbright TEA participants have stretched themselves.  

“It is a proud moment for me to see how much the teachers have learned and accomplished in six short weeks. Professionally and culturally, they grow so much, and I love seeing the friendships formed.”

Disclaimer: This article was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

-- Krissy Vick