Not for the first time (Telluride, Amherst, Klingenstein both times) I’m getting that honored / nervous / pretty-sure-someone-in-admissions-made-a-filing-error feeling. These Fulbright Distinguished Teachers are…well, they sure are bright and distinguished. I have met many master teachers, instructional leaders, and at least one state teacher of the year! The other teacher who will be traveling to Israel, Betsey Coleman from Colorado Academy, is an energetic fountain of stories, insights, readings and resources.
The indefatigable Fulbright staff has kept us moving and learning, connecting us to great resources. In our cross-cultural training, Craig Storti, author and trainer, had us rank our own countries on a series of indicators (direct-indirect, egalitarian-hierarchical, internal vs. external locus of control, etc.) Most of the Americans need to adjust to polite, circumspect societies, but (no surprise) those of us going to Israel and Finland need to prepare for even more blunt versions of ourselves. My Israeli counterpart (a school counselor named Dimona Yaniv who must be deeply valued by her students) described her countrymen as a six on a one to five scale of directness! (I need to make sure to prepare myself separately for Palestinian culture, which I believe is different in this and many other points of etiquette.) I had a wonderful lunch with Galit Baram and Tali Efraty from the Israeli embassy. Galit has been posted in Cairo, Moscow and now D.C., and has sent her children to international schools. She was enthusiastic about our choice of JAIS for the girls, which was reassuring. Fulbright DAT alums gave us great advice on managing finances, insurance, foreign university bureaucracy, and other challenges. We toured the sites of DC, and attended a rooftop reception.
After all this intense connecting, many of the teachers from abroad rallied to go out – perhaps to dance? I’ll admire their energy level from the restful confines of my (quite posh) hotel room.