An Aside: Realia

Realia is one of those eduspeak words. It means when you are teaching something, you bring the real thing into your classroom to connect the lesson to life.

I have never before been realia.

Most of the girls of Shri Shikshayatan School had not met nor even seen people from the USA. They watched us walk past and giggled or waved. They jumped up and greeted us with, “Good morning, ma’am!” They shyly asked for us to take a picture with them.

And they asked questions. A lot of questions.

What are the struggles faced by American women? Are they the same as ours? Do you believe in climate change? What innovations has the USA created to conserve water resources? Do women have equal pay in the United States? How do you keep your hair like that?

The purpose of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship is to develop mutual understanding and lasting relationships.

Senator J. William Fulbright observed, “The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy – the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately.”

By coming halfway around the world to build friendships and a global community of learning, I am honored to have built new friendships in Kolkata, India.

And I am happy to be the realia that helps to build bridges of empathy and understanding.


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