Country Visited: the Palestinian Territories
Program Year: 2014-2015
Coming from Boston, you never expect to arrive in the Middle East on a snow day; but I think in many ways that encapsulates my time in the Palestinian Territories. Things a world abroad are a lot more like home than you think they are. Before leaving for my Fulbright, many of my friends, family, and colleagues were surprised by my interest in traveling to the Palestinian Territories. As I began to send back pictures and stories, both they, and I, were surprised by the common elements of humanity I was experiencing, and Palestine didn't feel that far from home. My time in Palestine allowed me to flip my role from teacher to student and immerse myself in the experience of being a global citizen - whether it be learning how to order a falafel or discussing global politics with a diverse group of individuals. There is nothing better than listening to a Palestinian grandmother tell family stories while drinking a hot cup of mint tea.
Through a partnership with Birzeit University, for my inquiry project I explored how to use graphic novels/comic arts to better develop students' global competencies. I focused on developing curriculum which communicated the diversity of Palestinian identity. As part of this, I wanted to explore work by Palestinian artists to include primary source voices into the curriculum. I was amazed by how many ‘big deal’ artists were ready and willing to spend long amounts of time speaking with me (the producer of Arab Sesame Street, a feature film director, a cultural center director - to name a few). I leave with tools and resources that will influence both my and other teachers’ curriculum for years to come.
My advice to potential applicants and future grantees is to just say "yes." Say yes to the long application, diving deeper into that aspect of education you always wondered about, exploring somewhere in the world your wildest imagination would not have taken you, and finding a way to "make it work" with your current commitments. Say yes to every invitation, experience, food, and open door that comes your way. Say yes to failing; it embarrassingly took me four different attempts to find a most locations. I am so grateful to the Fulbright program for allowing me the independence to explore a topic I was truly passionate about in such an in-depth way and I encourage others to take this opportunity and do the same.
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