HARROGATE, Tennessee, Dec. 18, 2018— J. Frank White Academy Spanish Teacher Zach Greene is making an impact on students locally and internationally, in South America, thanks to the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad (GPA) program.
Greene was one of 12 K-12 teachers selected for the prestigious U.S. Department of Education funded program through the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at The Ohio State University. He participated in summer of 2017, traveling to Ecuador and Peru for an on-site seminar “Teaching the Andes.” The program equipped teachers with multidisciplinary content, curricular resources, training in diverse methods of inquiry and experiential knowledge for deploying innovative approaches for integrating the Andes and Amazonian region into K-12 education.
“The purpose of the Fulbright-Hayes program was to learn about, experience and develop content related to Andean culture and indigenous languages,” Greene said. “I was able to bring that material back in meaningful ways through presentations, conferences, curriculum development and community organization.”
The work of the participants goes into a curriculum and resource library available nationwide to teachers to help them teach the Andes and Andean languages in meaningful ways. In the past year, “Teaching the Andes” Fulbright-Hays GPA has directly influenced 4,098 K-12 educators and students through curriculum development, workshops and presentations.
Greene has personally impacted over 200 students, 100 teachers and 900 people within Harrogate and the tristate community. Using his experience abroad he has enhanced his teaching and infused his classroom with excitement. Since returning from the Andes, Greene has stayed in contact with faculty specializing in Andean studies and curriculum experts at Ohio State, and has used them as resources in developing his classroom projects.
Greene and his high school students coordinate an annual celebration, The Mountain Fiesta, which explores commonalities between the Andes and Appalachian culture. The project draws hundreds of people and dozens of collaborators. The project includes research on Latin American countries and traditions as well as the planning and execution of the event.
“The Mountain Fiesta has been enhanced by my Fulbright-Hayes experience in many ways,” Greene said. “In the Andes, as well as in Appalachia, community is everything. There is a deeply understood and felt sense of reciprocity. In Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andes, this reciprocity is called randi randi – la reciprocidad in Spanish. Everything is part of a cycle of dar y recibir – give and take. My students and I bring this understanding to the planning table when we organize The Mountain Fiesta. Every stage of our planning and efforts is rooted in the question of reciprocity; how can we give as much as possible to our community, which has given so much to us.”
In addition to work on The Mountain Fiesta, Greene has presented in various conference settings and was the keynote speaker at the most recent Lee University Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Conference on Latin American and Iberian Studies. Greene has also been invited to be a main speaker at an international conference in Barranquilla, Colombia, in June 2019.
Greene was one of six teachers selected from the original group of 12 to continue working beyond the grant period. Projects like The Mountain Fiesta fit within a broader framework of research, pedagogy and collaboration that CLAS at Ohio State and the U.S. Department of Education are eager to continue supporting. The center has a vested interest in the implementation of Andean languages and content in K-12 classrooms.
“It is not enough to tolerate, accept, or even appreciate diversity in culture. It must be celebrated,” Greene said. “The reason The Mountain Fiesta is so successful and important – is that both cultures deeply value food, music, dance and coming together. The Mountain Fiesta brings all those things into the public square in Cumberland Gap once a year. The result is a beautiful harmony of cornbread and tortillas – bluegrass and bachata – pupusas and fried pies. The celebratory interplay of these two seemingly polarized cultures in the setting of a festival has been marvelous to witness, and more successful than we ever imagined.”
The J. Frank White Academy is a private coeducational college preparatory school located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University and serves students grades 4-12 from Claiborne, Union, Campbell and Hancock counties in Tennessee; Bell County, Kentucky; and Lee County, Virginia. For more information contact the Academy Office at 423.869.6234 or visit www.LMUnet.edu/academy.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing
educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus
is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and
graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280
or email at [email protected].