Ms. McQuiston landed at Hopkins International Airport on Sunday, August 11 after three-plus weeks in Uruguay. She was in Our Lady Chapel Chapel by 8 a.m. the next morning ready to share her adventure with her colleagues at the first day of faculty meetings. She brings that same enthusiasm to her Spanish classroom, where, throughout the year, her students will learn more about the Uruguayan culture. Her fifth-grade students will even have a chance to participate in an interdisciplinary unit on the Charrúa Indians, who were mostly exterminated by the first Uruguayan president; learn about a different aspect of Uruguayan culture each month; and participate in a communication exchange with a fifth-grade class in Uruguay.
This incredible trip was made possible through the Fulbright-Hays program. Senator J. William Fulbright created the scholarship fund for international exchange between the United States and the nations of the world at the end of World War II. His aim was "To bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."
Ms. McQuiston was one of only 16 teachers selected from a national pool for the opportunity to travel to Uruguay for three weeks as a Fulbright representative. During her stay, she had the opportunity to observe a number of Uruguayan teachers and meet with the country’s Secretary of Education to learn more about their education system, through which all schooling, including university-level, is free. She also learned more about the country’s sustainability initiatives, visiting a sustainable farm and one of the country’s dams. She was impressed to discover that Uruguay is powered by 98 percent sustainable energy, utilizing solar, wind and dam power. She had the unique opportunity to meet with some of the few descendants of the Charrúan tribe. Finally, Ms. McQuiston enjoyed experiencing the culture of Uruguay firsthand.
Asked to describe her adventure, Ms. Quiston said, “The most amazing part of my experience was the opportunity to connect with the Uruguayan people - college professors, taxi drivers, primary and secondary teachers, store clerks, and students - and hear their stories and perspectives.”
And now she’s excited to bring that experience into the classroom. She said, “My goal is to broaden students' understanding of the complexity and diversity of Latin America. By learning about life, culture and language in other countries such as Uruguay, I hope that students will develop a desire to continue learning about and exploring other countries on their own.” She added, “We will explore surface culture, such as food, candombe drums, clothes, school calendar as well as deep culture examples, such as the concept of time and gestures.” She aims to bring all that saw, tasted and heard in this Latin American country to life for her students this year.