teacher seated at a desk with students

Meet Hyam Elsaharty, an educator from Seattle, Washington who participated in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program to Peru.

Why I applied

I had a colleague who did a Fulbright Teacher Exchange. He said it was the best professional development experience he ever had. I trust his word implicitly. You could see it in his face and his body language that he just had the best time. A year later I applied after learning about it from him.  

What I did 

My area of study was special education and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). I focused on the SEL needs of indigenous people. Peru was a wonderful introduction to some of these issues. A lot of learning comes from nature and is self-directive in indigenous cultures. They really value SEL skills that you can learn from nature.

We got to visit public, private, and rural schools. I was very fortunate to see this. They co-create classes and learning sequences and what they want to learn in Peru. The family is more centered in Peru than I've seen in the United States. I really brought back that sense of families feeling part of students’ learning journey. 

What changed 

I wanted to focus on Social Emotional Learning and educators. I moved from Chicago to Seattle, taking a newly-created position informing district structures and decisions. I’ve been creating a lot of curricula. We created resources around guiding students in a safe way to have unbiased conversations. In order to understand different perspectives and manage conflict respectfully and to advocate for themselves and their communities in ways that respect differences. 

I’m creating a partnership with the international studies department. I wouldn’t have thought to marry SEL and international studies without Fulbright. A lot of global competencies match with those of SEL like developing empathy and investigating the world. When instruction is intentionally planned, not only are we helping students develop these competencies, we give them the language and skills to recognize their agency. It’s been an inspiration to bring the world into SEL. It enhances SEL. Both are mutually reinforcing.