Pitzer Faculty Members To Take Local Teachers to Nepal

Three Pitzer College faculty members earned a Fulbright-Hays grant to take three students and seven local high school and middle school teachers to Nepal this summer.

Pitzer professors Nigel Boyle, Mike Donahue and Michelle Dymerski are planning the five-week program, called Pitzer College Educators in Nepal, to help bring a global perspective to Inland Empire middle and high school classrooms. 

"We're trying to build connections between what we do internationally and what we do locally in terms of community engagement," said Boyle, the director of the Institute for Global-Local Action and Study at Pitzer.

The program adapts the established Pitzer in Nepal study abroad program to allow local social studies, world history and international studies teachers to participate.

"It's mixing the teachers and students together," Boyle said. "That's the exciting part of it, and that's what's different from other kinds of study abroad initiatives."

He said that some teachers attended colleges where they did not have the opportunity to study abroad.

The new program will be structured similarly to existing semester-long programs. Each of the participants, including the organizers, will stay with Nepali families and learn about their culture, language and religion.

"They're not just going to have a lecture on Hinduism. They're living with a family whose whole life is informed by Hinduism," said Donahue, the director of Pitzer Programs and Intercultural Education. "It's going to be a pretty incredible, intense learning experience."

Donahue said that the teachers participating in the program will have a similar experience to that of students traveling with Pitzer’s semester-long program.

Dymerski, the director of the Claremont International Studies Education Project, regularly works with teachers, mainly those who teach high school social studies, to improve the level of education in low-performing school districts.

“This is a great opportunity for undergraduates interested in teaching in public schools as they will work closely with veteran teachers, have the opportunity to discuss teaching and learning from a comparative lens and begin to establish a professional network with teachers dedicated to their own professional development,” Dymerski wrote in an e-mail to TSL.

The team hopes to apply for future grants for similar study abroad programs in other parts of the world.

"I would hope that this would be a guinea pig," Boyle said. "If this is a successful model, we could look at other ways of getting funding for this sort of program."

The Fulbright-Hays grant is a component of the U.S. State Department's Fulbright Program. It is awarded annually to institutions of higher education, state departments of education and private, non-profit educational foundations. Pitzer was one of 12 colleges awarded the grant this year.