iSad! Today marks the midway point of my four (wonderful and glorious) months in Mexico as a D.A.T. (Distinguished Award in Teaching) grantee. I love Mexico and am already sad thinking that I will leave my friends and neighbors, exactly two months from now, to resume teaching my ELLs at St HOPE Leadership Academy in Harlem, New York. I would love to return to Mexico…for vacation, for teaching, for the food, for anything!
As a “2016 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program Participant to Peru”, I was invited to submit a summary of my Fulbright experiences for the 2016 J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Annual Report. The 2016 edition highlights the year-long celebration of the Fulbright Program’s 70th anniversary, showcasing the Program’s achievements, evolution, capacity – and power of alumni networks – to advance innovation, cooperation, and more peaceful relations in our high-stakes world, looking forward as much as it looks back.
This is my submission.
Key Events in 2016, Thanks to Fulbright Grants
by Frederic Bernal Lim, MSc-Edu
The following are the grants that I received from the William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 2016:
- Fulbright-Hays Semester Abroad Program (Peru, July-August)
- Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program (Mexico, August-December)
- Fulbright Professional Development Grant (to attend MEXTESOL, Monterrey, Mexico, Oct 2016)
These Fulbright grants to Peru and Mexico focus on the inclusion of indigenous history, culture and identity in the modern world. I have chosen to combine these two acknowledgements of excellence in teaching into one multi-national and multi-ethnic inquiry project. At this time, this project is currently in development.
The Inquiry Project
Purpose: to collect and share digital stories of significant individuals, planned and produced by and for K-12 students from communities around the world, starting with Peru and Mexico. The significant people featured in short videos by the students become the “First Heroes” of their digital narratives.
Objective: to develop global competence in K-12 students as they interview elders to discover stories of their family and local communities. By producing and presenting their rendition of their favorite story digitally to a wider audience through the First Heroes Project, local and global peers gain international perspective and mutual understandings from each other.
This is the one-minute Call to Action for teachers to join the First Heroes Project.
This is the website FirstHeroes.wordpress.com where stories can be accessed for instruction as well as posts about improving digital storytelling. (In construction)
Teaching ENL in Harlem, NYC
I teach in a charter school of 300 students in New York City. About 30% of them require ENL (English as a New Language) support from 6th through 8th grade. Students receive free lunch.
My ELLs (English Language Learners) are from immigrant families from Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa, and the Middle East. My Project-Based Learning and instruction combines literacy, social studies, science, math, art, and technology.
The Significant Stories from the First Heroes Project will give my ELLs a window into communities in Peru and Mexico as they exchange stories, too. I hope that over time ingrained cultural stereotypes will dissolve through this sharing.
Active Alumni Network
My Fulbright awards this year have allowed me to expand my professional network, which has made this project successful so far in its initial development.
I hope the project continues to grow in innovative ways to elicit cooperation among teachers and students internationally toward more peaceful relations among communities.
Fulbright-Hays Semester Abroad: Peru
During our trip to Peru, we met Eduardo Castillo, director of the Colegio Marianistas, in Callao, near Lima, Peru.
As a former Fulbrighter, Eduardo would like to implement this project in his school. We are now planning a return visit to their school in February 2017, so that I can train teachers in a digital storytelling workshop.
Co-teachers on the Peru grant also want to help me improve my project. We plan to meet in New York after I return from Mexico. I look forward to working with Fatima and Carmen on related projects, for example, using puppetry to teach ELLs nationwide!
Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching: Mexico
During my Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, I have expanded my professional network of teachers via other grantees from the U.S. and Mexico.
I have already contacted some of them to further connect me with educators who want to contribute digital stories from their Fulbright host countries.
For For example, Tim Flannigan from Rhode Island is in Viet Nam now helping students write about their communities through a specific Vietnamese poetry style. Tim and I will link our sites to showcase our respective students’ work.
Locations of Participating Schools
6-8 grade schools in Mexico
- Iztapalapa, Mexico City: Escuela Secundaria
- Tlaxcala, Mexico: UNAM campus, students of Aging Studies taking ESL
- Canicab, Yucatán: Escuela Secundaria
- Maxcanú, Yucatán: Escuela Telesecundaria and Telebachillerato
- San Cristóbal, Chiapas: Escuela Secundaria
- Monterrey, Nuevo León: alumnos graduados de una secundaria
MEXTESOL Conference 2016
I presented my Significant Stories project at the MEXTESOL Conference with the support of the Fulbright Professional Development Grant.
Teachers now have access to the First Heroes Project; it was included in the 2016 MEXTESOL Proceedings. At the conference I promoted my project to key individuals:
- Teachers interested in implementing digital storytelling in their classrooms.
- MOOC developers of online classes in ESL, which is a teaching platform that I would like to some day emulate with the First Heroes Project.
- The education and cultural sections of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
Sharing the Pedagogy
Teaching the World Forum, April 2017
Marry Curran, associate professor of professional practice and associate dean of local-global partnerships, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey, spoke at the MEXTESOL on storytelling in the classroom.
- She invited me to propose my First Heroes Project at the Sixth Annual Teaching the World Forum on the theme “Local-Global Service Learning” in New Brunswick, New Jersey in April 2017.
TexLER Research Conference, February 2017
Rebecca Tapia, researcher and professor at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), Faculty of Languages, Puebla, Mexico, invited me to:
- Propose my First Heroes Project at the 18th Texas Language Education Research Conference on “Educating Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students: Research and Practice” at the University of Texas (San Antonio) in February 2017.
- Be part of her team in BUAP, joining researchers from other universities to do a needs analysis at an indigenous school. I would be more than happy to join them through another Fulbright scholarship grant.
Thank you, Fulbright, for making it possible for me to bring global exchange to many classrooms.
Frederic Bernal Lim