Dawn Thomas, who will receive a Master of Arts in Teaching in secondary English education from the University of Iowa College of Education in May 2023, is the winner of a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Israel for 2023-24.
Thomas' Fulbright grant will allow her to focus on assisting English instructors who teach English and American culture to college students at the Academic Arab College for Education in Haifa, Israel. Haifa is Israel's main port city on the Mediterranean coast, home to a large population of the country's Arab citizens, and a vibrant hub for diverse cultural exploration.
"I will use my role as an English Teaching Assistant to encourage Israeli students to bring their cultures, backgrounds, and interests into the classroom to cultivate language learning," Thomas says. "This strategy will also allow me to learn about what types of celebrations and activities bring Israelis joy."
Thomas says this experience will enhance her training as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher and future online instructional designer for English language learners who may find the physical classroom, school building, and learning spaces unwelcoming and harsh.
"As I engage with the communities I will be living and working in, I plan to share my African American culture through music, poetry, speeches, and stories as a bridge to help Israeli students understand how African American expressions of joy, like music, dance, poetry, and art, have helped shape American culture," Thomas says. "I will also facilitate English-language poetry workshops designed to reach Arab Israeli primary and secondary students as a way to build their English proficiency.