Monica Ramos, NLU’s Director of Family and Community Engagement, spent June and part of July in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship.
The program gave Ramos and other American participants an intensive look at the German educational system, in order to enrich their own teaching in the U.S. and strengthen ongoing communications between educators in the two countries.
The program also had strengthening cultural awareness as one of its goals. It was held at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near Frankfurt.
Following is Ramos’ account of her Fulbright experience:
By: Monica Haydee Ramos, M.Ed. (pursuing Ed.D.)
This past February I received an email containing one of the most important letters I have ever received. It expressed congratulations, as I had been selected to participate in a one-of-a-kind educational experience. The Fulbright scholarship I was awarded is part of the special programs administered by the German-American Fulbright Commission in Berlin.
U.S. teachers from various states and school districts formed this Fulbright group. They represented various subjects from adult education to history to science. The program included classroom observations, teacher dialogues, lectures from professors from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and cultural activities.
The first activity scheduled in the program was a meeting with Ms. Inga Pölz, Fulbright Program Officer; Mr. Rainer Henkel von Klass, Director of the International Affairs Office at the University of Mainz, and Mr. Marcel Hüttel from the Teacher Training Center.
During the meeting, they provided us information on the Fulbright program, the background of the teacher program, terminology related to the German education system, teachers in Germany and the recent developments in Germany and Europe in regards to refugees and the European Union. The meeting closed with dialogue on German-American relations.
In his welcome letter, G. Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, highlighted the components of this experience and its focus in not only gaining a heightened understanding of primary, secondary and higher education in Germany, but also information about Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate and its culture and facts about cross-cutting issues like inclusion. He pointed out the importance of transatlantic relations and professional experiences with German colleagues to foster international dialogue.
The first week of the program concentrated on visits to elementary, special education and comprehensive schools and teacher training. The lectures surrounded topics in the German education system, teacher education in Rhineland-Palatinate, educational policy and the history of the University of Mainz as a bridge to a new world after the French post-war policies.
The second week centered on vocational schools, high schools, whole day schooling and a panel on democratic participation in schools hosted by Prof. Dr. Margarete Imhof from the Department of Psychology at the University of Mainz.
During both weeks of programming, participants had the opportunity to establish conversations with principals, teachers, teacher candidates, students, professors, representatives from the ministry of education and the president of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
The program concluded with Mr. Reiner Rohr from the Fulbright Commission in Berlin facilitating a valuable dialogue on the program and our experiences. Also, Mr. Joanniss Kaliampos, representative from the US Embassy, presented information on programs offered by the U.S. Embassy in Germany.
The program, “Education in Germany – a Multi-Faceted System” was a fitting opportunity for my professional development. The experience enhanced my own teaching practice as it will benefit the families and students I serve. After this program, I am able to provide them with a stronger understanding of various education systems, and better practices in education with a global perspective.
Additionally, as a higher education professional, this program provided me deeper understanding of curriculum, teacher training, education programs, education policy and international collaboration.
The cross-cultural exchange of ideas with students, education administrators, teachers, future teachers and university professors also yielded fruitful insight.
My passion lies in international collaboration with the focus on education and equity. It is important for me as an emerging leader and professional in higher education to deepen my understanding of various systems of education and curriculum.
This experience has given me a better perspective on global education, in light of my work as an educator and education leader moving forward. This has been a life-changing opportunity in my present that has already impacted my future.
I would like to express my appreciation to the Fulbright Commission in Berlin, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Teacher Training Center and the student volunteers, the schools that hosted us, and all the wonderful people behind the development, funding and coordination of this special program.