Blazing the Trail to Fulbright

Bergvagabunderin, or, “mountain vagabond”.  This is the trail name I adopted in 2013, although I believe this name has been with me my whole life. For those that have been on a long distance thru-hike, you know what I am talking about. For those of you unfamiliar with trail names, they often come about through a comical event or mishap, or sometimes can describe a quirk or habit. Oftentimes in the thru-hiker community, we will know each other only by our trail names, leaving behind the conventions of our “normal” life.

What does this trail name have to do with Fulbright, you ask? I am a wanderer, a traveler, and an adventurer. While not a true vagabond (I do have a home, and wander with a purpose), this wanderlust is what drives my desire to experience different cultures. It is this wanderlust that drove me to apply for the Fulbright program last year.

I first read about the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program in 2004, when I was graduating with my degree as an educator and packing my bags to move to Germany for my first teaching assignment. Knowing that the Fulbright program required at least 5 years of teaching experience, I put this idea in the back of my mind as a future goal, one I would circle back to just 11 years later.

Over the past few years, I have been reading about Finnish education, particularly because they are high-performing in world-wide science exams. As a passionate science educator, I have been yearning to learn more about why Finnish students are succeeding, and what I could be doing differently in my practice to encourage my students to think more scientifically. This is just one of the topics I will be researching while I am in Finland.

For the past 3 years, I have become immersed in the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and not only am I anxious to learn about science inquiry processes in Finland, but also about the other 3 components that make up STEM. How can we here in the USA partner with Finland to come up with this global definition of STEM? How can the USA be partners with Finland to blaze the trail in STEM education?




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