Group photo of the 2019 Fulbright DAI teachers; standing together and smiling on a sunny day in front of a university building.

Meet Urmimala Das, an educator from India who participated in the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program for International Teachers in 2019. Learn about her experience at Arizona State University. 

Why I applied 

I was teaching English as a second language and included aspects of American culture. I thought if I traveled and lived in the United States, I could pass on even more to my students. Fulbright was a great opportunity to learn more and experience more. 

What I did 

My project was to research emotional intelligence, dance, and English language. I visited U.S. schools and met other dance teachers. The practice sessions were absolutely different. I got opportunities to talk to counselors and be in English language classes. It was great exposure. It’s different when you live in a new country. I learned so much from other colleagues who had come from other parts of the world. I met other teachers from Thailand, Bangladesh, and elsewhere. 

What changed 

There are a lot of changes I see in myself. I feel very confident now. I don’t mind taking risks. Since returning from the United States, I follow my heart. Whatever challenges may arise, I overcome them. My leadership qualities have been really enhanced. I’ve been able to train my students, other teachers, and community members. I’ve given webinars with parents to help them deal with their students during COVID, and I’ve trained over 300 teachers and 1,000 students on technology in the classroom.  

Observing U.S. classrooms, I saw how teachers counseled students and helped them open up. I brought those strategies back to my students. I was selected to lead an anti-bullying project with my students. My 20 students will be talking to 700 students online. I’ve been training them in how to deal with students who were bullied and those who bully. This is more than just defining what bullying is and isn’t, but about emotional intelligence. It helps people understand why people bully and what people who were bullied need in order to heal.