The US Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced Robert Fest as a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program award recipient.
“Being selected for an opportunity like this pushes me to become more ambitious in creating a learning environment that fosters global engagement among my students and the George School community,” said Bob.
The Fulbright Program is the world’s largest and most diverse international exchange program and is supported by the United States and partner countries around the world. Fulbright alumni include sixty Nobel Prize laureates, eighty-nine Pulitzer Prize recipients, and forty who have served as a head of state or government.
“All of this inspired my ultimate pedagogical goal: To directly engage my students in the world-at-large by creating a strong, academically rigorous program that is authentically global and allows students to immerse themselves in a ‘faraway place.’”
The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program is open to full-time elementary, middle, and high school educators and is a year-long professional learning opportunity for K-12 educators, featuring an intensive online graduate-level course followed by a 2-3 week international exchange. Participants are selected through an open competition and applications are reviewed by an independent panel of experts.
Participating in the program will build on global experiences Bob has pursued for much of his career. Most recently, he led a group of teachers from around the United States on a two-week professional development project in Uganda. Focusing on education and wildlife conservation, the group spent two days teaching at the Awegys Secondary School in Kigo, Uganda — a school that Bob helped build and one that he has brought George School students to on academic and service trips — followed by visits to Ugandan National Parks to learn about wildlife conservation efforts.
He has also participated in the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program and the International Leaders in Education Program, US government-sponsored exchange programs that took him to Sumatra, Indonesia.
“I started small, bringing my own experiences in places like Ghana and Kenya back to my students,” Bob explained. “Then I was able to build direct partnerships with international colleagues that allowed my students opportunities to work with international peers. All of this inspired my ultimate pedagogical goal: To directly engage my students in the world-at-large by creating a strong, academically rigorous program that is authentically global and allows students to immerse themselves in a ‘faraway place.’”
In spring of 2022, Bob was invited to present at a five-day seminar hosted by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs office. His presentation, Community-Driven Development: Assessing Needs and Managing Projects, was based on his work at the Awegys School and shared the skills and tactics required for developing successful community projects, from stakeholder engagement to implementation to monitoring and evaluation.
This spring, Bob will teach a self-designed, immersive course titled, “Contemporary East African Society and Conservation.” Students will spend three weeks studying in Uganda or Tanzania.
As a Fulbright recipient, Bob will continue to share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and abroad. Possible locations for his travel for the program include Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, and South Korea. Upon return to his classroom at George School, Bob will share his stories and continue to be an active supporter of international exchange, enriching the school’s international perspective.