Maine Fulbright Stories offers memories and insights about international exchange experiences from Fulbright Award grantees who either came from Maine, or came to Maine, to complete their Fulbright Awards.
Where and When Was Your Fulbright Award?
Bliss Charity School, Nether Heyford, UK 2011-2012.
Why did you originally decide to apply for a Fulbright?
I’ve always wanted to teach overseas, but my daughter was actually the catalyst. As a high school freshman she was interested in a study abroad program but felt she was too young to go solo. I started exploring options that would allow us to go on an overseas adventure together.
How did the Fulbright experience help your professional development and career?
The Fulbright teaching exchange touched every aspect of my personal and professional life. Although I had been teaching for several years, my Fulbright experience allowed me the opportunity to become a “beginner” again – to see the art of teaching with fresh eyes. I learned from my British colleagues, my students, their parents and the community. I also had the chance to share my knowledge with teachers from my host country.
While on my Fulbright exchange I had the opportunity to facilitate workshops on student writing with the staff at Bliss Charity and also at a larger conference held by the Milton Keynes Ethnic Minority Achievement Support Services. Looking at education from the framework of another culture helped me question what I thought I knew about education and opened my mind to so many new possibilities. I returned home with a broadened skill set and a global outlook.
What were your favorite experiences in Great Britain?
There were so many amazing experiences, I can’t limit myself to just one! Bliss Charity participated in the European Union Comenius Programme, a cross-cultural project based collaboration, that enabled me to connect with teachers in Sweden, Poland, Switzerland and Greece. It was inspirational to work with these colleagues and truly feel I was part of a global community.
Forest school education was a school-wide initiative at Bliss Charity and I had the opportunity to participate in a three day retreat with my students at an outdoor center. It was so much fun sharing a wilderness experience with eight and nine year olds!
And some of my favorite memories of my year in the UK were shared with family. Both of my sons came to visit with their girlfriends, in fact my oldest proposed to his wife at Stourhead. My mother joined us for several months and made many friends in the village where we lived. As a three generation household we made life-long friends with many families.
What would you like to tell Mainers about the Fulbright Program?
The Fulbright program is an extraordinary opportunity. There are so many ways to achieve personal goals with the different Fulbright options available. And the true magic happens when the experience unfolds and it becomes so much more than you ever thought it would! It’s a chance to network and become part of a larger community of people who value global education and collaboration.