In 2014, the CSLC began a joint language and cultural immersion program with Perley Elementary Fine Arts Academy in South Bend, Indiana. In this program, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, visiting from an array of countries, work as volunteer instructors. For four weeks every semester, FLTAs teach 30-minute classes, Monday through Friday. During these sessions, the students and FLTAs have the chance to share language knowledge, learn about music and traditional dances, play educational games, and discuss history and cultural differences.
In the inaugural year, individuals from China, Brazil, and Italy worked with students in second, third, and fourth grade, offering these kids an opportunity to have contact with Chinese, Brazilian and Italian languages and cultures. At the same time, the program gave the FLTAs the chance to learn more about the American public education system.
2014-2015 FLTAs In Action
"Learning how to deal with younger students is probably the biggest lesson I’m going to take from this project. I had taught adults and adolescents before, but never kids this young. I’ve spend a few nights trying to create something that would be interesting enough to keep them excited about what I had to teach, and gladly most of the times my activities worked well and I could offer them a good and productive time. Seeing their responses to what I have brought was really rewarding. I believe, however, that I’ve been learning much more from them and from their teachers than they are learning from me."
-Rafael Ferreira, Portuguese Fulbright FLTA
"Teaching Italian at Perley has helped me become part of the local community and made my experience in the United States much more authentic.
-Alessio Compagnino, Italian Fulbright FLTA
"Like Rafael, I have been always teaching college students but never kids in an elementary school before. Through this program I would like to get them to know more about different aspects of Chinese culture, but at the beginning I was a little concerned that whether they are old enough to understand a new culture and pay attention to my lecture. But amazingly, the kids have been very interested in these cultural topics and they are so active raising questions and making comparisons between Chinese and American cultures. Also, they displayed a keen perception to the esthetics of traditional Chinese music, dancing, poetry, painting, etc. Especially in the activity of tasting Chinese Jasmine Tea, they all have a natural sensitivity to give their own descriptions of the look, smell and taste of the tea. I believe for both of us the classes we have had together will become an unforgettable memory and a mutually beneficial experience."
-Xi Zhang, Chinese Fulbright FLTA