Teacher standing next to students

In September 2021, fourth-grade educator and Fulbright Teacher Exchange participant Arianna Zeb was recognized by the Junior League of Dallas and Texas Instruments with a Grant for Innovative Teaching, supporting her inspirational Voices of Vickery project. 

Named after Vickery Meadow, a Dallas neighborhood known for its diverse community with a large immigrant and refugee population, Voices of Vickery is a year-long autobiographical project to “help students cultivate a deeper understanding of where they come from and what their future dreams are.” Families come to Vickery Meadow from countries such as Burma, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, and Nepal. Arianna’s classroom at McShan Elementary School reflects such diversity, with ten different languages spoken. Arianna says she finds inspiration from the “mini-United Nations” in her classroom. “My students’ families came to this country in order to make a better life here, and I believe it is my duty to educate their children to the best of my ability.” 

Split into three segments, the Voices of Vickery project encourages students to honor their different backgrounds as a means of connecting with one another, a lesson Arianna believes is important to understand at a young age. Part one of the project, My Past Life, asks students to connect with family members to learn about life growing up in their countries, and to construct family trees. Part two, Present Life in America, encourages students to write about their present lives in Dallas and at McShan Elementary School. The third and final part of the project, Future Hopes and Dreams, invites students to set goals and articulate their future. All pieces are joined together in a trifold board and are presented at the end of the school year. Arianna’s fourth-grade class is currently in the process of writing their essays and will begin decorating their trifold boards soon.  

Grant funding is utilized to provide students with polaroid cameras to document their families, communities, and interests. Remaining funds provide access to presentation materials and multicultural books and autobiographies for students to read in class. In the last two years, Voices of Vickery has received nearly $5,000 in funding from the Junior League of Dallas.  

Reflecting on her time as a Fulbright Teacher Exchanges participant, Arianna shares that her program “has been a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with like-minded teachers around the country and learn from experts in the field of global education. I look forward to my field experience where I can continue to learn from others and apply the skills I have learned during my Fulbright coursework.”

Arianna Zeb is a current participant in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program.