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Fulbright Teacher Exchange participants recount successful U.S. experiences

20 Uruguayan teachers said they were moved by hospitality of their US counterparts and impressed with diversity of school populations

March 5, 2004

 

Regardless of which state they were sent to, every Uruguayan teacher participating in the Fulbright Exchange program said they were struck by the diversity in the U.S. schools, the warmth of their hosts and the professional educational environment.

“I learned three fundamental things about the U.S. in this exchange,” said Eduardo Rodriguez, a teacher at Public School No. 132 in Cerro Largo. “One is the hospitality of the people; second is the spirit of volunteerism in the schools; and third is the diversity.

Rodriguez, who went to a public school in San Antonio, Texas, said there were German, Polish and Mexican children in the classrooms.

“And there were possibilities for all of them,” he added.

The educators, hailing from 12 departments in Uruguay, participated in the Fulbright Director and Teacher Exchange Program, sponsored by Fulbright, the U.S. Embassy, Montevideo, and Uruguay’s National Administration of Public Schools (ANEP).

They departed Montevideo Feb. 3 for the three-week program to share academic programs and techniques with their counterparts in U.S. public schools in Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, Kansas and Virginia.

On Thursday (March 4) they had the opportunity to compare notes at an informal reception hosted by Public Affairs Officer Brian Penn. Penn congratulated the teachers for participating and especially those who braved harsh winter weather in the northern U.S. He also thanked the Fulbright Commission for organizing the exchange and then invited the educators to relate their experiences.

The educators said they were impressed with the attention students give to the teachers and the amount of supplies and books in each classroom.

Participants were invited to speak to faculties and students in their schools, giving lessons on the history, culture and geography of Uruguay and were able to set straight some misinformation about their country.

“A teacher asked me to speak to her class. She said that Uruguay would fit in with her lesson on jungles,” said Mabel Leguisamo, director of Public School No. 19 in Maldonado. “The children asked me what country Uruguay was in.”

Ana Laura Lujambio, Public School No. 364, Montevideo, said, “The students asked about the kids and schools and traditions here in Uruguay. They asked, ‘Do you have cars in Uruguay’ ‘What do you eat?’ and ‘What kind of work do people do there?’”

The teachers brought maps of South America and Uruguay and arts and crafts traditional to their country. And many also brought mate, a tea favored by Uruguayans, to share.

The teachers also found camaraderie in their sister schools.

“There really are no differences,” said Gladis Mansilla, Public School No. 269, Canelones. “The issues that are important here are important there. The teachers don’t get paid enough, parents aren’t involved enough, and there’s not enough funding.”

The educators encouraged others to take part in this valuable program.

“I want to tell all teachers, if Fulbright calls, go for it, because it’s a really special experience,” said Maria Malverez, Public School No. 364 in Maldonado. Ms. Malverez traveled to Houston, Texas.
Participating Uruguayan public school directors and teachers are:

1. Eduardo Rodríguez, Escuela 132, Cerro Largo
2. Cecilia de Nava, Escuela 361, Montevideo
3. Delia Fraigola, Escuela 326, Montevideo
4. Ana Lujambio, Escuela 364, Montevideo
5. Gladis Mansilla, Escuela 269, Vista Linda, Canelones
6. Anabella Haller, Escuela 35, Montevideo
7. Nancy Llanes, Escuela 65, Durazno
8. Nelly Arballo, Chacras de Dolores, Soriano
9. Julia Martínez, Escuela 85, Lascano, Rocha
10. María Gonella, Escuela 274, Pando, Canelones
11. María Rodríguez Ibarra, Escuela 142, Montevideo
12. Estela Rivero, Escuela 85, Treinta y Tres
13. Natalia Carro, Escuela 56, Maldonado
14. María Gutierrez, Escuela 114, Salto
15. Ana Hernandez, Escuela 65, Montevideo
16. María Malvarez, Escuela 364, Montevideo
17. Julia Arrestia, Escuela 1, Salto
18. Ana Recoba, Escuela 36, Pintadito, Artigas
19. Mabel Leguisamo, Escuela 19, Maldonado
20. María Bonzalez, Escuela 9, Colonia Piamontesa, Colonia

Teachers meet at the home of Public Affairs officer Brian Penn (far right) and his wife, Sarina (fourth from left) and CODICEN Chairman Gabriel Diaz. Fulbright Exchange participant Mabel Leguisamo tells of her experience in Wichita, Kansas.
Fulbright Exchange group at the reception Teacher Eduardo Rodriguez tells of his experience in San Antonio, Texas.
Teachers arrive at the airport in Washington DC. Participant Julia Martinez with teacher and children at the school in Wichita, Kansas.
Ms. Leguisamo experiences her first snow in Kansas. A big welcome for Gladis Mansilla in Houston, Texas.

 

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