Kiran Masud has a mission.
She wants to hear more voices from her students.
So, to achieve that goal, she applied for a program so that she will hear more voices herself.
Ms. Masud, who is in her 15th year as a teacher at the Hillside Intermediate School for the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, is the recipient of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program award.
The U.S Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board notified Ms. Masud this year, and her selection will eventually send her to Uruguay where she will be learning new cultural nuances to improving education in her own classroom.
Her trip to Uruguay, which is located in South America, is scheduled for near the end of the school year, June 4-18. She has not yet been notified on what city she will study in.
“I am so excited to visit Uruguay. I never traveled to South America,” revealed Ms. Masud, who is a 5th Grade Teacher of English Language Arts at Hillside. “I am eager to go out of my comfort zone and change that into a comfort zone during my fieldwork.”
According to the press release from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.
The press release went on to report that upon returning to their classrooms in the United States, the Fulbrighers share their stories and often become active supporters of international exchange., inviting foreign scholars and educators to their school or campus and encouraging their colleagues and students to go abroad.
As Fulbright alumni, their careers are enriched by joining a network of thousands of esteemed scholars, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 40 who went on to serve as head of state of government.
For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants–chosen for their academic merit and leadership–with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Ms. Masud was motivated to apply for the opportunity that Fulbright offers from a voice that she can longer hear.
“My nephew passed away and he was just 3 years old. I want to honor him by giving kids in front of me a space to share their voices, since my nephew will not have that opportunity,” Ms. Masud revealed. “I want other kids to fulfill their potential and learn to recognize opportunities in every challenge.”
To prepare for her mission, she participates in weekly webinars and course work, which include studying up-to-date research about teaching methods and strategies.
She is eager to address her fieldwork and what the results will have on her career.
“This will be very fulfilling. I will meet new people and bring back many ideas to our district.”
And she added:
“My main focus is global competency.”
She has an understanding of how the world lives outside of the United States in her role as the Co-Advisor with Sean Smith of the Roots & Shoots Club at Hillside.
Hillside’s Roots & Shoots Club offers the students opportunities to participate in two programs, One of the programs, HELP!, is dedicated to protecting animals and the environment.
The other program is titled Students Raising Students, which is committed to learning about the lives of children around the world and promoting the educational rights and aspirations of every child. Specifically, the program's mission is to raise awareness about the impact of poverty on the lives of children in East Africa.
Ms. Masud educates her students in her Hillside classroom on the locations of states in the U.S. and countries around the globe.
“I put in a blank world map and a blank U.S. map in their reading journals and the students are asked to color in different locations based on where the authors are from. This is to have them diversify the texts they are interacting with,” Ms. Masud explained about her lesson.
Dr. Tali Axelrod, the Principal of Hillside, will join Ms. Masud for a trip to Washington, D.C., where they will participate in the 2023 Global Education Symposium from February 9 through 11.
According to the press release about the symposium, Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program award winners and their school administrator will gather to expand their educator network, meet with officials from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and participate in professional learning workshops on topics of global education.
Principal Axelrod strongly supports her teacher and applauds Fulbright for its choice.
“Kiran is a really smart and caring person who creates the best culture for her classroom and her students,” Principal Axelrod proclaimed. “She is warm and amazing with the kids.”
Ms. Masud is prepared for her adventure that will bring her to the coastline country that borders Brazil and Argentina.
“I am ready to grow and develop and expand my viewpoints of teaching styles,” she said. “I want to make more space within myself so I can make more spaces for voices outside of myself.”