Weekend 18: Puerto Morelos to Chetumal, Quintana Roo

I had planning to chat with another Fulbrighter researcher, Austin, in Puerto Morelos, but it did not happen. I wanted to go diving by the reef off the coast to bring back some stories for the Fish Club in Harlem New York.

This used to be a small fishing village, but with the increasing popularity of Cancun resorts, the tourist creep has come to disturb the natural fauna of the Mayan Riviera. I wanted to ask Austin about his work with the lobsters and the fishing rights for indigenous fishing industry. We did not meet, but this is what he emailed me a couple do months ago.

Austin said, “Fishing rights in Quintana Roo are granted to cooperatives, which distribute these rights among their members. The NGO I’m working with has a strong relationship with some of these cooperatives, who have made great strides toward sustainability. In 2012 and 2013, the cooperatives worked with the NGO to set aside some of their fishing concessions to create legally recognized “no take zones,” where fishing would be banned for 5 years in an effort to preserve fishing stocks. When the refuges were established, interviews were carried out with many of the fishermen from multiple cooperatives to assess their understanding of and attitudes toward these no take zones. Now that 4 years have passed and the refuges are coming up for their first round of governmental review, we’re going to repeat that study to see what benefits and costs the fishermen have observed with the refuges, and whether or not they are still in favor of them. Once this project is done, I’m planning on carrying out a more quantitative, economic analysis to see how the annual lobster catch has been affected by the implementation of the reserves, and more specifically, if certain fishermen benefit more from the reserves than others. Finally, plans are in the works to attempt a lobster-tagging study to assess migration of lobsters from protected areas out into fishing grounds, but this is permit-dependent, and I’ve heard the permitting process here is a nightmare.”

So, perhaps in Chetumal I can get some fish-related story for the Fish Club. I will go to two museums that focus on Mayan history and some markets that sell artisan items. I’m excited to go and see what they have!

Midway Through My D.A.T.

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 ReportThe 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.

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This is the website FirstHeroes.wordpress.com where stories can be accessed for instruction as well as posts about improving digital storytelling. (In construction)

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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.

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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.

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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

Opening Ceremonies & Networking!

The conference started today with as much fanfare as was possible to have in a huge conference room. There were about 2000 people attending! A marching band started off the inauguration of the event. They played the national anthem which was sung by a man at the podium. Behind him was a string of the dignitaries of English Teaching in Mexico–and beyond; I didn’t catch all of the people who were introduced.

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It was at the opening ceremonies where I met Mary Curran, Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Associate Dean of Local-Global Partnerships at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey. She also spoke on digital storytelling! She mentioned that I connect with Professor Ruth Ban who spoke on digital storytelling, too. I attended both of their talks and was glad to know that this form of teaching is getting serious validation.

Fulbright’s D.A.T. in México!

The culmination of our week-long orientation in Mexico City was the awards breakfast. I was surprised and especially honored to be seated at Table #01 with the dignitaries and important people in Mexico who support education and the Fulbright program (called COMEXUS).

The photo collage shows Mexico Deputy Secretary of Education (Sr. Javier Treviño) and other dignitaries from the U.S. Department of State, like Ms Hazel Blackmore (posing with me and the flags). It was a real honor to wear the Fulbright pin from the orientation in Washington with the pin of the two flags from Mexico and the United States.

I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship through the Distinguished Awards and Teaching program, supported by the U.S. Department of State. I am the only awardee in the entire country of Mexico on the program from August through December 2016.

I have been preparing my project since I got the acceptance letter around April and now I’m looking forward to know as much about Mexico, her culture, people, and history through my inquiry project on “significant stories” as told by English language learners in Mexico!