Lauren Thurmond relishes bringing cultural awareness and sensitivity to her elementary classrooms. She believes that elementary students in the U.S. from other countries may feel their culture of origin is dismissed when they hear, “Be American. Learn English.”
Teaching abroad in Greece, an unfamiliar land and culture, she says, gives her a “greater awareness of kids in L.A. from immigrant families who have just arrived.” Thurmond brings what she believes “is so positive and optimistic about being a teacher” to her classroom. She knows the bad rap teaching can get, because of the pay, for example, and inequities among school districts.
Thurmond realizes her teaching assistantship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, “a huge step,” she says, “to learn more about myself and the world around me.” She always wanted to study abroad, and with graduation near, she chanced upon the mention of Fulbright fellowships and persisted in the elementary teaching assistantship application process to win one of only 12 slots.
Fulbright grantees are responsible for interacting with the people of their host nation with openness, integrity, and intellectual freedom. In Athens, she will help elementary students learn about American culture, among other things, and take Greek language lessons.
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