Former Explo faculty Sarah Beam, Lindsay Galeste, Brandon Ouellette, Laura Gabriel, and Allison Fried all recently won Fulbright grants to live and teach abroad. We’re so proud of their success, and wanted to share some of their journeys with you.
At Explo, our summer faculty are among the best and brightest, and they often go on to do amazing things outside of the world of education — such as becoming a renowned novelist and writer, founding a dance company, winning a prestigious academic prize, and becoming a law professor at Yale Law School. Similarly, many of our summer faculty become inspired by their teaching experience at Explo, and go on to pursue education as gifted teachers and administrators.
As Fulbright Grant recipients, Sarah, Lindsay, Brandon, and Allison will be spending close to a year of their lives teaching English to students of various ages in countries around the world. The U.S. Student Fulbright Program is a highly selective, federally-sponsored international exchange program designed to “increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between people of the United States and people of other countries.” The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, with about 1,600 of those going to graduate students and recent college graduates.
Sarah Beam, Fulbright Scholar in Peru
A graduate of St. Olaf College with a degree in Spanish, Sarah Beam spent part of her college years studying abroad in Chile, where she fell in love with South American cultures and communities. A teacher with training in teaching ESL Education, Sarah is thrilled to be heading to Peru in March as an English Teaching Assistant.
“I will be working in an English Teacher Training College,” Sarah says, “collaborating with education professors and future Peruvian teachers! I am looking forward to the opportunity to compare education systems and teacher training programs between the U.S. and Peru, and am also excited to share activities and teaching strategies with other future ESL teachers! It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the country, communicate in Spanish with members of the community, and experience Peruvian culture.”
For Sarah, the environment at Explo is “so positive and encouraging. Every single moment truly is a learning experience, whether it is prompting a quiet student to speak up in class or convincing a sassy middle schooler that your Ultimate Frisbee pun really is funny. It is an environment where it is okay to make mistakes, with an incredible group of staff who offer supportive feedback and jokes. Everyone at Explo is always eager to try something new and weird, which builds such strong bonds amongst students and staff though we are only together for a few weeks.”
At Explo at Wellesley, where she was a Residential Advisor and taught ESOL students, as well as through a ninth-semester teacher training program at St. Olaf, Sarah has already developed a strong foundation in training how to teach ESOL students. She can’t wait to bring everything she’s learned with her to Peru this spring.
Brandon Ouellette, Fulbright Scholar in Germany
Brandon Ouellette, a Richard Steele Scholar, is currently teaching 3rd-5th graders in Berlin, Germany on a Fulbright grant.
“I’m already in love with the city, my school, and especially the children,” Brandon says. “This age group is so rewarding to work with, especially as an English teacher. The rate at which they learn is astounding!”
Brandon first came to Explo at Yale as a student, where two courses — abnormal psychology and Model UN — “sparked my interest in psychology and led to my eventual psychology & government double major” at Bowdoin College. Next year, Brandon is contemplating pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology upon his return from Germany.
Although, as he says, “in a deeper sense, I’m still trying to figure out what I want do ‘when I grow up,’ and I’m so fortunate to have this year of full fledged independence to discover more about myself and the world around me.”
About the Richard Steele Scholarship
The Richard Steele Scholarship program was named in honor of former Explo board member Dick Steele, who had an august admissions career leading the admissions offices at Duke University, Carleton College, and Bowdoin College. Steele Scholars, who hail from northern Aroostook County, Maine, USA, come to Explo at Yale for the summer following their freshman year of high school. They then participate in a college counseling program for the remainder of their high school careers. Read this story to find out more about how the Richard Steele Scholarship works with Steele Scholars.
After his first summer as an Explo student, Brandon vowed he’d return as an instructor as soon as he was eligible. For the past three summers, Brandon has been teaching and mentoring Explo’s youngest students, first at Explo at St. Mark’s and then at Explo at Wheaton, both as an instructor and as a Residential Advisor and Director. Through it all, Brandon has learned a lot about what it means to help shape the learning and growing experiences of children.
“Over the past three years I’ve learned so, so much,” Brandon says. “Kids are awesome, curious, fascinating little beings whose emotions and motivations we should never underestimate. I love teaching, and I know that wherever I go, and whatever I do, I will always be seeking out those teaching moments.”
“In fact,” Brandon says, “almost any moment can be turned into a teaching moment, whether about math and science or about how life works. I learned how to manage a classroom, how to convince 6th grade boys that they really do need to brush their teeth and shower every day, how to communicate with non-English speakers in a way that makes them feel secure and taken care of even with the language barrier, as well as how to work with others as a member of a larger team.”
Laura Gabriel, Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia
At Explo at Wheaton this past summer, Laura taught courses and workshops in hovercraft physics, chemistry, and EMT/ First Aid. This January, Laura heads to Malaysia, where she’ll be teaching English to students there. “I chose Malaysia because, in addition to teaching English, I get to work with extracurricular clubs and sports teams at my school. I am excited to learn about a culture and religion so different from my own.”
After graduating from Pitzer College with a major in neuroscience, Laura was unsure as to what her future would hold, except for one thing: (possibly) pursuing a master of education. But, she says, her time teaching and working at Explo has already reinforced her desire to teach.
At Explo, she loved “watching students step out of their comfort zones, try new things, and have a blast doing it” — so much so that one student who took a performance class “absolutely lit up on stage” during an end-of-session performance. She also loved seeing the confidence ESOL students developed in terms of their English language skills, and the determination of her hovercraft physics students to make their hovercraft designs even better.
While in Malaysia, Laura plans to deepen her teaching experience, and hopes to learn more about Islam in the process. “In the news and on social media lately,” Laura says, “discrimination against Muslims appears everywhere. In engaging in conversations with my Malaysian community, I hope we can come away with a better understanding of each other and carry that understanding with us in the future.”
Allison Fried, Fulbright Scholar in Spain
In 2012, Allison Fried mentored Explo at Wellesley students as a Residential Advisor and taught them about Italian Language + Culture. Allison, a University of Louisville graduate student and a Spanish teacher at Louisville Valley High School in Louisville, Kentucky, is passionate about promoting cross-cultural understanding among her students.
This year, Allison is thrilled to be teaching ESL in Madrid, Spain, as a winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant. In addition to training, Allison will head a Model UN initiative, and immerse herself in learning as much as she can about international public education and bilingual schools.
“As a public school teacher in Louisville,” Allison recently told the University of Louisville alumni magazine, “I have seen the power and importance of an effective public education system. I am excited to learn from Spain’s implementation of bilingual public education, one of the best models in the world. Bilingual students have proven to be better cognitive thinkers and problem solvers. The U.S. can learn from Spain educationally and culturally and I want to learn and share during my grant period.”
Lindsay Galeste, Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia
Over the past two summers, Lindsay Galeste has taught ESOL to middle school students at Explo at Wellesley, taught Economics to high school students at Explo at Yale, and worked as a Residential Advisor on both campuses. Throughout all of her experiences teaching and working at Explo, Lindsay learned not only valuable skills concerning classroom management and lesson planning, but also how to inspire and encourage her students, how to get them excited about the material, and how balance the dual roles of instructor and mentor.
“My greatest inspiration would be the students themselves,” Lindsay says. “Since I taught ESOL at Wellesley two summers ago, I understood that translating both the American culture and Explo culture can be a daunting task. But I loved seeing that both American and international students were excited to learn about one another’s cultural norms and what it’s like to live in different places, and helping them cross any language or cultural barriers they might have.”
This January, Lindsay, a Pitzer College graduate, is heading to Malaysia for 11 months. “I cannot wait to learn about a new culture and really hone my teaching skills,” Lindsay says. She brings with her ESL teaching experience at Monterey Park Public Library (just east of Los Angeles), where Lindsay taught and developed an adult ESL program. “These experiences made me passionate about being in ESL spaces and empowering students to enjoy and want to learn English.”