Change your Life in 2017: Travel Opportunities for Teachers

I’m going to go ahead and shoot myself in the foot and widen the competition pool for grants and fellowships I’m applying for. Why would I do that? Because there are too many incredible opportunities that too many incredible teachers simply do not know about. Also, a friend of mine changed my life when she mentioned one of these in passing five years ago. (I love you Rhonda Duering!)

Here’s how it happened. We were sitting on her back porch watching her pups play in the yard as she told me about the colors and foods of Morocco and Spain and Kazakhstan. I pictured her traipsing the world like Carmen Sandiego, privy to geographical paradises I would only ever see on Instagram. “Wow. I wish I could do that,” I said in that dismissive way that people do when they don’t envision grand plans for themselves. “You can, dude. You just have to be willing to put in the work to apply.”

Two days later, I was grading essays in my classroom when she slapped a thick application on my desk and said, “Ha! Fulbright! It’s due next week. Do it.” So I did it. And then the strangest thing: I was accepted. And my life changed drastically. One day I was long-boarding to work in concrete suburbia, and the next day I was swimming in the Arabian Sea in jeans (a story for another day).

I lived and taught in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India for six months. This experience revolutionized everything I thought I knew about teaching. About learning. About humans. Most importantly, it drastically revealed how little I knew about what I thought I knew about anything. It was weird and beautiful and humbling and raw.

And that’s why I think you should apply—not India, per se, but for anything that takes you out of your environment and tests your transfer of skills. This is what we ask of students, but as adults it is rare to find true opportunities to stretch our social, emotional, and professional knowledge—rarer still to find anything that can stretch all three in one setting.

These are just a few opportunities I know to be safe and legitimate—they are all government or non-profit funded. If you know of any others, please kindly include them in the comment section below—you just might change a life.

Cheers to 2017!


The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Twelve teachers from Japan will travel to the U.S. in late April, and 12 teachers from the U.S. will travel to Japan in late June. At the end of the program in each country, all participating teachers will gather for a few days of joint collaboration. For more details and program dates, please visit the Program Specifics.

Participants will be required to demonstrate development of ESD curriculum as a result of the program. An impact report on this development and its implementation, including documentation, must be submitted within four months of U.S. participants’ return from Japan. Participants will also be expected to submit a reflection report following the Joint Conference, which will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can access the online application here .

Application due Friday, January 13, 2017.


2019-2018 School Ambassador Fellowship Positions

The School Ambassador Fellowship is a year-long paid position that offers two separate year-long tracks: the Washington Fellowship, which is a full-time appointment at the Department’s Headquarters in Washington, DC; the Campus Fellowship, which enables educators to collaborate with the Department on a part-time basis while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities.

In the Washington Fellowship, selected participants serve as full-time Federal employees in Washington, DC for one school year. Fellows are placed in offices within the Department of Education to work on education programs and policy matters. They contribute valuable school and classroom-level knowledge and perspective to the Department, greatly increase their own knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs, and collaborate to provide specific outreach to other teachers. Over the year, Washington Fellows gain in-depth knowledge of Department initiatives; provide their perspectives to senior staff; share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences; facilitate discussion among educators about policy in DC and in areas around the country as necessary; and plan and implement various convenings and events for local educators and others on behalf of the Department.

In the Campus Fellowship, selected teachers serve as paid, part-time Federal employees, in addition to their primary school roles, for one year. Fellows share public information with and facilitate conversations amongst educators at the district, State and regional level. They contribute their insights and knowledge about schools and classrooms to the Department, increase their knowledge and understanding of Federal education policies and programs and their critical interplay with State and local policies, and collaborate with other Fellows and Department staff to provide specific outreach to teachers. Over the year, Campus Fellows gain knowledge of key Department initiatives and work to understand how these intersect with State and local efforts; work with Department staff to gather and share information with constituencies in the region; and periodically share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences.

Application due January 23, 2017


Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program

U.S. K-12 teachers and educators can apply for grants to engage in collaborative projects for approximately 2-6 weeks abroad, with a preference for 3 or more weeks. Participants consult with and support schools, non-profit organizations, teacher training institutions, and other educational organizations abroad. This short-term program is offered in addition to the longer program, which is for a period of three to six months. The grant award provides funding for program expenses while abroad, including travel costs, lodging, meals, local transportation, and related expenses. These grants give U.S. educators flexibility to participate in the Fulbright Program while meeting their teaching and professional commitments.

Grants for 2017 are available in Botswana, Colombia, India, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, South Korea, and Vietnam. Click here to see more information on program opportunities.

Applications due February 15, 2017


IREX Teachers for Global Classrooms Program

The Teachers for Global Classrooms Program is a year-long, fully funded professional development opportunity for elementary, middle, and high school teachers in the United States to become leaders in global education. TGC Fellows: complete an eight-week, graduate-level online course; they gather in Washington, DC to build networks, travel for two to three weeks to experience another country’s culture and education system; they create a capstone project; they are able to apply for grants to sustain their engagement.

Application due Monday, March 20, 2017


NEH Summer Programs in the Humanities for School and College Educators

Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. Stipends of $600-$3,300 help cover expenses for these one- to four-week programs.

There are 45 different programs available—all in different location and with unique application dates. More information is available on this website.

Applications due: Various, usually March 2017


Angela Buzan

Angela Buzan is a full time English teacher in the Flagstaff Unified School District. She has thirteen years’ teaching experience and has taught all grades seven through twelve. In 2010, she received a Fulbright Teacher Exchange fellowship to Kolkata, India; in 2012 she achieved National Board Certification; in 2014 she earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction. Her current challenge is to out-read Gavin, in third period, who typically polishes off three novels a week.

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