The journey begins back in August 2010 when I received an email from Leah Morgan, the technology chair for AEAI (The Art Education Association of Indiana) about the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program for 2011. The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program is designed for K-16 educators and administrators who teach in the humanities areas to travel to non-Western countries. Excited to see if I qualified, I scoured the DOE website for more information, and happily I did! I found two options for the post-secondary study abroad experience- to Brazil or to Morocco and Tunisia. Brazil sounded wonderful, but I would be more apt to go to Brazil on my own. Morocco and Tunisia? I would be much too intimidated to do it on my own. Plus, the seminar title, Religious Diversity in the Maghreb, sounded like I would be able to learn more about Islam (a religion I know relatively little about) in its context.
The application process seemed simple enough- write four three-page essays on my traveling experience, perceived need, curriculum project, and a cv. No problem! That’s only 12 pages, and I could whip that out in a weekend, right? Well, it proved to be far more time consuming to write thoughtful and in-depth responses than I thought. I had to do research on Morocco and Tunisia and think of an interesting topic for the curriculum project that tied in with my classes and the seminar title. Then came the revisions. I wrote and rewrote the three main essays over and over again, fine-tuning it, and having colleagues help me with the language and focus. It took me up to the deadline of October 6 to submit those essays and to be sure that I had everything in order for the application process.
Then I waited. And waited. And waited.
I was super excited about the prospect of going to Morocco. I started seeing Moroccan items everywhere-a Moroccan Arts and Crafts book at the IMA educator night, Moroccan air fresheners, Groupons for Moroccan restaurants and cooking classes. The signs (albeit strange signs) were there. But I just waited.
Finally, in early March, a large brown envelope from the US Department of Education arrived in my mailbox. Nervously, I opened the envelope to discover that I was selected to participate in the Fulbright-Hays seminar program for Morocco and Tunisia! The months of waiting were over!
Then came the weeks of preparation.