Micole Gauvin, a 2015-2016 Fulbright/HAEF Teaching Fellow in Greece, shares about the far-reaching and transformative power of cultural exchange which the Fulbright Program creates. With March bracelets, Greek-Word-of-the-Day, mythological stories and more, classroom instruction and cultural exchange intertwined to connect students in small-town Wisconsin with the rich history, beauty, and tradition of Greece, bringing us all a little bit closer:
"School finished for us about a month ago and it's been a good, but busy summer so far! I was able to visit with Bridget and Bre, as well as spend time with my family. Getting ready to take a trip exploring Paris and parts of Italy with my dad in just a few days. And then after, looking forward to spending some time again in Greece!
I've spent several days working in my classroom to get ready for the upcoming school year (I'll be switching to teaching first grade!). While going through files and organizing things from the last school year, I found some pictures I wanted to share with you. One of the ways I was able to share Greek culture with my fourth grade students last year.
After my trip over Spring Break, I brought back March bracelets to share with my students. We adapted the tradition to make it our own -- a bit later (beginning of April), because Wisconsin weather is pretty unpredictable and we could use the extra protection even after March has passed :) and also as a good luck symbol as we began our state standardized testing after break and then for good luck still on through the rest of the year.
The students loved learning about the bracelets and quite a few of them still wore their bracelets proudly until the last day! They were always interested to learn the new Greek word of the day, and responded whenever I said "πάμε" to transition to the next activity. One of their favorite books/topics we learned this spring was the Greek mythology through the book "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief". Knowing the Greek roots and connections helped us many times in our vocabulary lessons and math.
I am still so thankful for the opportunity to teach (and learn!) in Greece my Fulbright year. I know without a doubt that it has impacted and helped shape my teaching for the better. I am glad to have been able to share pieces of my experiences and the Greek culture with my students this year. It's kind of amazing to think how this group of students from a small town in Wisconsin now have a connection with Greece--more than 5,000 miles away... That's the power of connection that the Fulbright program creates."