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Sierra Hills School, UK educators to switch places through Fulbright program

By: Kylea Scott, Journal correspondent
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Two teachers prepare for a world of change as they plan for the next academic year. They will trade places to teach in a new country.

Sierra Hills School kindergarten teacher Cindy Tuisku has been granted by the Fulbright program to teach abroad in England. 

Emma Davies is a year one (kindergarten) teacher at Stocks Green Primary School in Tonbridge, England. Davies and Tuisku will exchange schools for the 2012-13 academic year Davies will come to Sierra Hills and Tuisku will go to Stocks Green. 

The Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. government and was designed to increase relationships and understanding between the United States and other countries, according to www.fulbright.state.gov. The program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for both United States and foreign citizens.

Tuisku once went to Scotland to visit a friend who was teaching abroad and had a wonderful time, she said. Ever since that experience she has wanted to get involved in the program and teach abroad.

Tuisku is most looking forward to seeing how students at Stocks Green are taught, she said. They have larger class sizes as well as national standards, she added. 

“I’m not bringing a lot of academic curriculum, or teaching tools. I want to teach things their way, but one thing I definitely need is my guitar,” Tuisku said.

She looks forward to learning about the cultural differences, but is nervous about the language changes, she said.

“‘I never wear pants,’ is something I find myself saying because I always wear dresses,” Tuisku said. “In the UK, pants can also mean underwear, so I better be careful about saying ‘I never wear pants!’”

Before the exchange, both teachers will complete a three-week online course in which they will learn about cultural differences to help prevent culture shock, Tuisku said. 

“I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the new way of things, just jumping in,” she said.

Davies has always wanted to teach abroad, travel and experience new cultures, she said. According to Davies, Fulbright is a well-established organization with a great reputation and she is excited to have this opportunity. 

Davies is looking forward to learning about the similarities and differences between the English and American education systems, she said.

“It will be exciting to learn about the cultural differences between the two countries and I look forward to sharing the differences with my pupils and colleagues,” Davies said in an email to the Journal.

Davies is concerned about the cultural and language differences as well, but she is comfortable knowing that she will have a great support system at Sierra Hills, she said.

Although Tuisku has been to Europe, she has never been to Tonbridge, England. She looksforward to seeing a new place, she said. 

Davies has been to California, but not Auburn. She looks forward to living in such a beautiful area of California and learning about the mining history, she said.

Tuisku and Davies both said they will miss their classrooms and colleagues.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do without my teachers aides,” Tuisku said.