April 24, 2019
ELP teacher receives Fulbright Teaching Fellowship
By: Angela Lehman
Richmond, VA (April 24, 2019) – VCU’s English Language Program teacher Angela Lehman has received a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship to teach literature, writing and English language courses in the spring of 2020 at Al Quds University in Palestine. Lehman, a Virginia Commonwealth University alumna who earned an MFA in Creative Writing in 2001, has taught in the ELP since 2011 after receiving a certificate in TESOL.
After an initial visit to Palestine in 2017, Lehman developed a strong desire to return, but in a capacity that would allow students to experience the same powerful experience that she did, and learn from it as well.
Read further to learn how Lehman’s opportunity to apply for the fellowship unfolded.
Trip four leads to a new, exciting purpose
When I teach at Al Quds University next spring as a Fulbright Scholar, it will be my fourth time in Palestine but just the beginning of what I hope is a longer-term relationship with the region.
After my first trip to Israel and Palestine in 2017, I knew I wanted to return. I even had the crazy idea that I could take VCU students on a summer study-abroad trip there. First, though, I had to learn much more about the region and make more connections with people, organizations and schools. I started reading – history, news, and opinion pieces, of course, but also literature, with a focus on Palestinian poetry since 1948. I also booked my next flight.
After a second trip, I was feeling discouraged about not having any university contacts, and another crazy idea occurred to me: Why not apply for a Fulbright fellowship to teach in Palestine? If nothing else, the application would keep me busy over the summer and inspire more reading. I mentioned this to [GEO ELP director] Amber Hill during my annual review, and she turned to her computer and said while typing, "I'll put this in your professional development goals." So that was settled – I was applying for a Fulbright!
As a consequence of the application process – but separately from the Fulbright decision – the English Department at Al Quds University invited me to campus as a short-term visiting scholar. This past spring break during my visit I established some good relationships with professors there, so it was a real joy to learn that I would be returning. I was also able to get a better sense of the department's goals, which include both English-language instruction for all university students and literature studies for English majors. This will influence my teaching plans, which are still in development but include an American Lit course with a focus on African-American literature, a creative writing course, and English language teaching and/or teacher training.
I'm terrifically glad for this opportunity to foster human connections through the study of literature and poetry, build my skills as a teacher who can adapt to new situations and lay the groundwork for more exchange between VCU's English Language Program and Al Quds University.