It will be a year of firsts for Amanda Richey, assistant professor of TESOL, when she accepts a 10-month faculty position at the University of Jordan in Amman for the 2014–2015 academic year.
Richey is the first member of the Department of Inclusive Education in the Bagwell College to receive a Fulbright Scholar award.
“This means a lot to me, personally and professionally,” Richey said. “I’m interested in that region because I think it is a misunderstood part of the world.”
Richey’s Fulbright grant is a teaching-centered award focused on culturally relevant pedagogy in the field of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) at the postsecondary level. At the University of Jordan, she will teach and develop curriculum.
“Engaged and culturally responsive teachers see language not as a discreet set of skills and formulae, but as living and changing practices that are impacted by cultural, political and historical legacies,” Richey wrote in her application. “This project centers on globally relevant pedagogy in university-level TEFL curriculum by building on my current work on cross-cultural issues, engagement and the development of reflexivity in new teachers of English.”
Richey joins four other Kennesaw State University professors who were awarded Fulbright awards this year.
“I’ve always been really interested in language,” said Richey, a former Peace Corps volunteer who is fluent in Moroccan Arabic. “In Morocco, I taught English in a youth center, and it wasn’t just about teaching grammar; it was about connecting to people’s lives and learning together.”
Richey’s experiences in Morocco have helped inspire her research and publications on issues of representation and culture in schooling.
“I have a particular interest in representations of Islam in school curriculum and the experiences of Muslim students and families,” she said. “Lack of understanding about the countries and cultures where Islam is the dominant religion continues to negatively impact Muslim students and their families in North America.”
In addition to her own scholarship, Richey said she hopes her Fulbright award will give her the opportunity to forge institutional partnerships, potential field placements and study abroad sites.
“I would be the first member of my department to become a Fulbright scholar, thus bringing new perspectives and possibilities to an already dynamic set of programs,” she said. “I relish the potential to give back by using my experience as a Fulbright scholar to inform my teaching, writing, and advocacy.”
The Fulbright Scholar Program seeks to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the more than 150 countries that currently participate in the program. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, approximately 300,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the program.
-- Jennifer Hafer
Photo by: Anthony Stalcup