For the past 13 years, Dr. Paul Wallace, professor in the Department of Media, Career Studies, and Leadership Development, has been involved with the Fulbright TEA Fellows program at Appalachian State University, specifically hosting several teachers from Uzbekistan.
“This collaboration sparked my curiosity and enthusiasm to visit this fascinating Central Asian country and see their own classrooms,” said Wallace.
Through a travel award from the Office of International Education and Development, Wallace was able to reconnect with some of the fellows and begin developing international opportunities for education majors in the Reich College of Education (RCOE).
Fostering Collaborations with RCOE
One of the main goals of this project is to promote cooperation with RCOE. Given its strategic geopolitical location and as a Muslim-majority country, Uzbekistan offers a unique lens on societal, cultural, and educational topics.
“My goal is to foster student and faculty connections that could lead to virtual online programs and future exchanges,” noted Wallace. “I enjoyed meeting with Bukhara State University during my visit, particularly with their information technology department.”
“Additionally, I had productive discussions with IT educators from Bukhara City Schools,” he added. “These conversations centered on potential collaborations with our teacher education students in RCOE.”
Empowering Uzbek Communities
Wallace also engaged in discussions with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Education regarding activities to promote IT skills across the country, particularly for underrepresented groups.
“They showed enthusiasm about collaborating on short-term initiatives, like robotics camps for young women and underrepresented groups, especially in cities outside the capital, Tashkent,” noted Wallace.
“My visits to the historic Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand were especially productive, with local school administrators and teachers eager to be involved in grant writing, planning, and partnering in this activity,” he added.
Engagement at the US Embassy
Wallace also had the opportunity to host a session at the American Center in the US Embassy in Tashkent.
“My presentation revolved around social robotics and artificial intelligence, leading to stimulating discussions with the high school and college-age attendees,” said Wallace. “Furthermore, during conversations with the US Embassy Staff, I explored funding avenues for small grant projects.”