I leave the United States for Glasgow, Scotland, in three days and am excited to share my experiences as a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching scholar through this blog, which is a personal blog representing my viewpoint only and not those of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. I leave one island for another: Douglas, AK to the UK (thus the title of this blog). The Fulbright DAT program gives teachers the opportunity to investigate an area of interest that supports international best practices in teaching and/or cultural understanding. My host institution in Glasgow is the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde, the leading provider of teacher education in Scotland.
The topic of my inquiry project is Musical Futures and El Sistema: Bridging Two Global Music Education Models to Effect Social Change. I will research and observe Lucy Green’s (2005) informal learning approach at Musical Futures Champion Schools, alongside well-established programs in the global Sistema network. The UK is the only participating country in the Fulbright program which operates two innovative music education programs focused on the transformative power of music for social change: El Sistema and Musical Futures. Though these programs share a similar goal they use different approaches to promote student agency, positive youth development and musical excellence. Sistema England and Sistema Scotland emphasize performance through instrumental ensembles with more formalized training while Musical Futures focuses on improvisation and creative-music making ensembles through informal learning. As a school music teacher, director of JAMM (a Sistema-inspired program) and teacher trainer, the United Kingdom offers the ideal opportunity to observe best international practices within these global music education models, which combined help students navigate both classical and popular music worlds.
For anyone interested in applying for the Fulbright DAT program, it is never too early to begin the application process. In fact, I highly recommend that you do. I found Annie Brandtʼs blog, Finnish My Thoughts, very useful in preparing for each step of the application process, especially with the online interview. An important note: make sure that the topic and essential questions of your inquiry project can only be addressed and answered outside the US and by the country you request.
I would like to thank the incredible team from the International Institution of Education (IIE) and the US-UK Fulbright Commission for all of the support they have given to help ensure that I make the most of my 5-month Fulbright tenure in the UK. The orientation held in Washington, DC last August by IIE was such a rewarding experience from beginning to end. Fulbright alumni were there to share their international experiences, resources, tips and lessons. Three of the 38 teachers selected for this yearʼs cohort are hosted by universities in the UK: Shana Ferguson will be in Edinburgh and Keith Thompson in Belfast (check out his blog, DAT Teacher in NI). The other 35 awardees will be hosted by universities in Botswana, Columbia, Finland, Greece, India, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.
At the Fulbright orientation, I was first met by Cristi Marchetti whose positive energy and enthusiasm are infectious and her knowledge and expertise as a Fulbrighter living in the UK, invaluable. She prepared and walked us through a detailed packet of information that carefully outlined the ins and outs of living in the UK as a Fulbright teacher. Cathy Kazio and Josh Benjamin, Fulbright alum who also lived in the UK, scheduled monthly Google chats to field any questions we had in preparing for our US departure.
My next post will document my first week in the UK at the Fulbright Forum in Southampton, England, hosted by the University of Southampton and the UK-US Fulbright Commission. The theme is Connected by Oceans, which provides opportunities to learn about Southamptonʼs heritage as a port city and explore global challenges facing coastal communities.
Photos Below: Cristi Marchetti greets me at the first evening of the Fulbright Orientation in DC with flags and Fulbright swag. Top Right: Fulbright alumni who shared their international experiences and words of wisdom. Bottom Right: Posing with my Fulbright in the UK colleagues, Shana and Keith.
This is a personal blog, sharing my experiences living in the UK from January - June 2019 as a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching scholar. This blog is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.