teacher seated at a desk, writing and smiling at the camera

Meet Nikysha Gilliam, an educator from Los Angeles, California who participated in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program to Senegal.

Why I applied

I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures and form meaningful relationships with people there. I teach second-language learners. Most come from Central and South America. For them to learn about people who live in Africa was something I wanted them to participate in. I wanted to help them dismantle stereotypes about people from other cultures.  

What I did 

While abroad, my group spent our first week learning about the history of Senegal, its educational system, and a little about the language. We visited schools and saw some very wonderful presentations that students did for us. The second week we went off in pairs and went into regions to meet our host teacher. 

We got a chance to see different types of schooling—public and private. We were able to go into local classrooms and teach and break down some preconceived ideas about Americans. It was definitely an exchange. I tell people all the time, it really was life-changing for me, so much so, that even before I left, I knew I wanted to come back to Senegal. 

What changed 

It definitely affected me academically. I am more mindful of the cultures and the experiences that my students bring to class, and I really try to honor those. Whatever it is we’re learning, I try to make connections to things they’ve already experienced or their families have experienced. To practice English, we read articles about what’s happening around the world. As part of their final projects to show how much English they’ve learned, students could do a video showing them preparing a food native to their country or they could do a writing project. It’s about honoring where they came from and what they came with.