The Teaching Tour: Pitzer College Awarded Fulbright-Hays Grant to Take School Teachers to Nepal

DaPhurey, the chief cook for the Pitzer in Nepal program, and Donahue exchanging prayer scarves.
DaPhurey, the chief cook for the Pitzer in Nepal program, and Donahue exchanging prayer scarves.

Claremont, Calif. (September 26, 2012) — Pitzer College has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant to take seven local school teachers and three Pitzer students on a five-week study-tour of Nepal next summer. The grant will fund the Pitzer College Educators in Nepal initiative, a program designed to help improve middle and high school education by immersing teachers in the language and culture of a developing country with a long and rich history.

The project was initiated by three members of the Pitzer College community who will also lead the trip: Nigel Boyle, director of the Institute for Global/Local Action and Study (IGLAS), Mike Donahue, director of Pitzer Programs and Intercultural Education, and Michelle Dymerski, director of the Claremont International Studies Education Project, a regional K-12 teacher development program.

Participants will stay with Nepali families for at least three weeks while studying the Nepali language, Hinduism, Buddhism, medieval history and the process of development. The project includes a pre-departure teacher institute and post-trip follow up for curriculum development.

“They’ll get hands-on experience that is very different than reading a book,” said Donahue, who is fluent in Nepali and helped create the Pitzer in Nepal program in the 1970s. “They’ll live with non-English speaking host families whose lives are heavily informed by Hindu values and beliefs while interacting with some of the best scholars in the country and collaborating on curriculum development projects with Nepali counterparts from local schools.”

The seven middle and high school teachers will be selected by a committee through an application process that includes a letter from their supporting institution and an essay about how they would benefit from intercultural study abroad. The three Pitzer students will be chosen from a pool of applicants who have demonstrated an interest in teaching professionally; two of the students will have participated in the Pitzer in Nepal program and will act as cultural and language mentors for the group.

Boyle describes Educators in Nepal as a quintessential “global-local” initiative, linking California standards coursework taught in Inland Empire classrooms to villages in the Kathmandu Valley.

“This is how the world creeps into a Southern California classroom,” Boyle said.

The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program is a component of The Fulbright Program that dates to 1946 when the late-U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright sponsored legislation to create the program as a means to increase mutual understanding between America and the rest of the world.

Fulbright-Hays holds a competition for short-term grants annually and competitions for long-term language projects every four years. Eligible applicants included higher education institutions, state departments of education and private, nonprofit educational organizations. This year, 12 colleges were awarded Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad/Short-Term Projects grants.

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