Moments before leaving the house, I discovered a six-inch tear in my suitcase. I frantically scrambled to find another suitcase, then rushed to the airport to board a flight that would take me to South Africa, a dream I have had for decades. Breathing easier aboard my flight, I sat on the plane reflecting on the honor of being chosen by the NEA Foundation to represent Rhode Island as a 2019 Global Learning Fellow (GLF)
As part of my fellowship experience, I traveled to South Africa for 10 days to broaden my perspective and understanding of apartheid. As a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Davisville Middle School, I used this field study to deepen my understanding of this African nation so that I could develop lessons to educate my students. Just as importantly, as I nervously sat on the plane surrounded by other fellows, I reminded myself that I was not alone and we were slowly growing into a “family” that would support one another on this journey and future endeavors. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to become a member of the GLF family:
You're An Ambassador for a Growing Network!
The Fellowship is so much more than a field study abroad. Following this once in a lifetime journey of learning and field study, you will be equipped to act as an “ambassador” in your school community. As a leader within my educational network, I work to foster interconnectedness and promote open lines of communication.
Since completing the Fellowship, I have spoken often within my district and with colleagues regarding the many opportunities offered by the NEA Foundation. Upon returning home, I met up with Michael Morasse (GLF 2018) multiple times and supported him in a global take-action project in the Philippines. Following our field study, part of our GLF 2019 family strengthened our ties by reconvening in New Hampshire for a weekend retreat, creating strategies to support each other in the integration of South Africa into our curriculum, shared memories from our field study journey, and planned how we would share our resources with other educators.
As a member and “ambassador” of this growing network, you will acquire tools to teach with accuracy and authenticity as you encourage your students to become global citizens and to share about the many ways other educators can grow their global competency.
“As a member and “ambassador” of this growing network, you will acquire tools to teach with accuracy and authenticity as you encourage your students to become global citizens and to share about the many ways other educators can grow their global competency.”
Preparation and Excitement!
Even though you’re a year away, prior to your departure for your upcoming field study, make certain you PREPARE. Your experience will undoubtedly expose you to new words, concepts, and ideas. By taking the time to digest some of the material prior to your field study, you'll have an easier time staying in the moment.
Books! Read as many fiction and non-fiction books relating to South Africa prior to boarding your flight. Consider forming a book club with your cohort to discuss new ideas and begin developing connections with other members.
Music and arts! Explore a new band or style of music. What is unique to South Africa? As a quilter, I learned about shweswhe fabric in advance of my journey and, in turn, I was able to spot it in my travels.
People! The peoples of South Africa are varied and diverse. Learn a few phrases of Afrikaans or one of the 10 other official languages. Dig into the complicated history and prepare to meet dynamic individuals who will open their hearts to you.
In 2019, our journey encouraged us to look at the different ways both black and white citizens resisted apartheid . Highlights of the field study included meeting with students in local schools thus affirming that need for quality education to create changes in the system. My pre-prep plans helped to create a rich and impactful experience that touched my soul, changed my classroom, and enriched my teaching.
“My pre-prep plans helped to create a rich and impactful experience that touched my soul, changed my classroom, and enriched my teaching. ”
The next 12 months will be a unique experience many educators can only dream of having. Embrace every twist, turn and challenge you encounter on this journey. Learn and grow from your peers along the way and take in every bit of South Africa while you’re abroad! From one GLF fellow to the next, good luck and I look forward to meeting you all at the October workshop!
Click below to learn more about the Fellowship. Applications for the 2023 cohort will open Fall 2021.