For more than 75 years, the U.S. Department of State has fostered understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries through educational exchanges.
The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program and the English Language Fellow, Specialist and Virtual Educator programs are vehicles for these exchanges. Coordinated by the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the programs allow U.S. teachers to share teaching methods, engage with overseas peers and students, and gain new perspectives.
The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, part of the Fulbright Program, sends U.S. teachers and administrators abroad for up to a semester to learn new educational practices, develop lesson plans and share expertise. They conduct research, visit schools and work with colleagues and students in their host communities. Educators from other countries also travel to the United States on these exchange programs.
After traveling to Peru in 2017 and again in 2018, St. Louis–area educator Joelle McIntosh returned with a wealth of knowledge, new contacts and renewed self-confidence. She now calls herself “a champion for global competence and understanding.”
“I’m excited to be part of this awesome network and look forward to the impact we will have on global education,” she adds.
English language programs
The English Language Fellow, Specialist and Virtual Educator programs place U.S. educators with U.S. Embassy-nominated projects designed to build English language capacity in host countries. Participants must hold graduate degrees and specialize in teaching English to speakers of other languages.
Fellow Program participants teach students and train teachers for 10 months in host country institutions.
Joe Voigts, an English teacher at the University of Chicago Charter School, was a 2019–2020 English Language Fellow in Jerusalem, where he worked with Israeli and Palestinian students. He said he joined the program “for moments … when I can empathize with someone so different from me and yet so much the same.”
In the Specialist Program, top-tier English-teaching experts lead intensive, high-level English language projects, typically for three months in country or for varying periods in the case of virtual projects.
Rob Danin — a former faculty member at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, College of Education — worked for two years in the Russian Far East (2012–2014) before entering the English Specialist Program to teach in Tanzania in 2016.
The experiences, he says, gave him a greater appreciation of the cultures he was immersed in and developed his own teaching abilities.
The Virtual Educator Program involves virtual, online projects that can run for several weeks or for an academic semester. Participants teach English and train English teachers from institutions around the globe.
Mayonne Granzo, who teaches English for Art Purposes at North Carolina’s Durham Technical Community College, became a Virtual English Language Fellow in 2020.
Granzo has enjoyed making connections and learning about other cultures and educational systems. She grew up in Guyana, a small country in South America, before immigrating to the U.S. and says that her background has helped her build rapport with the students.