Two Pace teachers, Bélgica Cucalon from Pace Pasco and Wanda Wynn from Pace Jacksonville, were chosen for the prestigious Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, this program gives teachers the opportunity to teach in a classroom abroad. As a result of this exchange, teachers bring a global perspective to their students back home.
Nearly 500 teachers across the United States have participated in this transformative experience since 2011. In addition to traveling abroad, teachers learn a variety of new educational techniques through an extensive online course provided by the Fulbright program. They also attend a symposium in Washington, D.C. to share and learn best practices from other educators in the program. The experience ends with the participants creating a global education guide for their students and communities.
Early on in her teaching career, Bélgica recognized the importance of incorporating a global perspective to her teaching style. Teaching in a small town, her goal was to inspire her students to become engaged citizens of the world. She founded a new student group, Global Girls, in 2017 focused on bringing the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development to her classroom and community. These goals focus on eradicating poverty, hunger, inequality and promoting health, education and sustainability in all areas of our world. Girls in her group identified issues to focus on in their local community and took actionable steps to address them including education, advocacy and service.
Wanda saw a similar opportunity to expand horizons for her students. She explains, “I knew the award would provide me the opportunity to bring the world into my classroom while, at the same time, encouraging our girls to embrace the concept of life-long learning.”
“Participation in the Fulbright program changed the way I facilitate conversation in my classroom,” said Wanda. “I work to help girls learn how other societies live and learn and how their challenging personal life experiences may not be unique to their world. I encourage them to engage in meaningful communication with people from a wide range of different cultures to address social and environmental problems and to work from the mindset of ‘thinking globally and acting locally.’”
Overall, Wanda finds that this approach has fostered a more open and authentic environment where deeper learning can occur, and human connections are made. Girls in this environment benefit from experiencing a broader international perspective, encouraging them to look beyond where they are currently and recognize the incredible opportunities that are created by a willingness to embrace diversity and the richness of culture. Bélgica and Wanda’s participation in the Fulbright program demonstrates their unwavering desire to become better teachers so that our girls can adopt a global perspective and reach their full potential.