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Focus on Fulbright: Q&A with Bob Fitzgerald

great stone buildings with floor-to-ceiling windows. student walking past a massive, stone wall leading up to the building

University College London’s Institute of Education

University High School faculty member Bob Fitzgerald traveled to England in the spring of 2017 to study with the University College London’s Institute of Education. To celebrate Fulbright alumni at Illinois State, he recounts his days in the program and the impact it made. #Fulbright@ISU #FulbrightPrgrm

headshot of Bob Fitzgerald

Bob Fitzgerald

Where and when did you complete your Fulbright?
Spring 2017 at University College London’s Institute of Education

Please describe your project.
I worked with scholars in the UCL-IOE PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) program and Justice to History Project concerning diverse/inclusive curriculum and instructional strategies. I spent time in various London schools, specifically the Convent of Jesus & Mary Language College in Harlesden, sharing and implementing these with secondary level history teachers.

How do you believe your Fulbright experience changed your work after you returned?
My Fulbright experience has made me more aware of the importance of identity among young people and the role education – specifically the history classroom – can play in fostering a sense of belonging.

Travel can be referred to as the gift of the unexpected. What was the most unexpected thing you saw or experienced?
The most unexpected thing I experienced was the warm reception I received from my mates at UCL-IOE and the Convent school and the relationship we forged during my time there. It is amazing how close you can become to people in such a short amount of time when everyone is committed to a common goal and shares a similar philosophy about teaching and learning.

An additional unexpected thing I experienced concerned the opportunity to travel to places during my time in the UK I had never thought I would have a chance to visit, which enhanced my experience and that of my family. This made my time away even more meaningful.

Have you returned to the country where you served your Fulbright award? Had it changed? Had you changed?
Having just concluded my experience in June I have yet to return to the UK. I am in the process of arranging an April visit to U-High/ISU for my colleagues from UCL-IOE where we can continue our work together and offer professional development to teachers in the surrounding area.

What do you most wish people could understand about the Fulbright experience?
That it encourages personal as much as professional opportunities to grow while away. That it connects you to other people across the globe who have similar interests, concerns, and passions as you. That it makes you aware of how small the world really is and how interconnected we all really are.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for Fulbright?
Do not feel daunted by the application process – you can and will complete it! Do not hesitate – apply now! Do not feel as if you aren’t worthy – you are!