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Tünde Csepelyi, an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at Sparks High School, has always strived to give her students a global perspective. But after winning the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms award in August, she plans to provide this perspective in new ways.
Originally from Hungary, Csepelyi has been teaching for 20 years in the United States. Before the pandemic, she volunteered as a teacher internationally as often as she could, and tried to use her experiences to enrich her lessons. But as a recipient of this award, Csepelyi will have access to formal training on how to provide this international perspective more effectively.
“The program offers a consistent curriculum–how to bring the world to the classroom,” she said. “I’ve been trying to do that, but I do that when I can attach it to a lesson. But the consistency, that’s what I would like to learn.”
Csepelyi said that the program could give her another way to connect with her students. As an ESOL teacher, she teaches kids from all over the world, so traveling to other countries allows her to become familiar with their home countries.
“I had a conversation with one of my Congolese students, and they asked me about Tanzania…and I told him, I’ve been there,” she said. “That’s just precious.”
She also hopes that incorporating the world into her curriculum will highlight the importance of education and travel to her students. As a teacher, she said it was her goal to show students how education and learning about other cultures can provide them opportunities.
“We are not locals anymore, just look at this pandemic,” she said. “What happened thousands of miles afar, we have the consequences here as well. We are connected…being different is good, and we can learn from one another.”
However, the program may change significantly due to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, recipients traveled to Washington D.C. for a professional development workshop. But now, this workshop will be held online.
Recipients would also have the opportunity to travel internationally to “immerse themselves in another country’s culture and education system.” Although she said they haven’t canceled this trip yet, there is a chance it may not happen due to COVID-19 concerns.
Csepelyi said she hopes she can go on the trip. But even if it is canceled, she said she won’t stop teaching abroad–as soon as she can, she would like to volunteer internationally again.