Ten local teachers will travel to Malawi with Virginia Tech professors on July 1 to begin a month-long, in-depth study of this African nation. This cultural experience has been made possible by a $66,000 grant from the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program.

The grant was coordinated by Patricia Proudfoot Kelly, professor emeritus of teaching and learning and former director of the Center for Teacher Education, and Josiah Tlou, professor in Virginia Tech’s School of Education, both of whom have worked extensively with Malawi’s education infrastructure during the last several years.

The group will begin its study tour in Zomba, where the Malawi Institute of Education and Domasi College of Education are located. They will attend daily intensive classes on the Chichewa language, learn about the history of the country and its educational system, visit elementary classrooms, engage in discussions with various Malawian educators, and embark on one-on-one teacher connections.

On July 13, they will attend the graduation ceremony of 24 Malawi students who will earn master’s degrees in education from Virginia Tech. Jerry Niles, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will confer the degrees. (Separate story)

Weekend time will entail travel to museums, markets, and various tea, coffee, and sugar plantations. The teachers will visit various geographic landmarks, as well as experience native crafts, dance, and arts. In addition, they will learn about the cultures of the Tumbuka, Ngoni, and Tonga at Mzuzu University, another school in a partnership with Virginia Tech, and Lilongwe Teachers College.

The following local educators will be making the trip to Malawi:

Elizabeth Barber (5th grade, Huff Lane Elementary in Roanoke City)

Amy Brehl (4th grade, Christiansburg Elementary in Montgomery County)

Steven Coxon (4th grade, Christiansburg Elementary in Montgomery County)

Elizabeth Dunn (5th grade, Christiansburg Elementary in Montgomery County)

Connie Herman (7th grade, Ruffner Middle School in Roanoke City)

Keith Palmer (6th grade, Christiansburg Middle in Montgomery County)

Jennifer Pollard (6th-8th grade, Blacksburg Middle in Montgomery County)

Jennifer Swann (5th grade, Price’s Fork Elementary in Montgomery County)

Carol Watson (3rd grade, Mountain View Elementary in Allegheny County)

Nancy Webb (6th grade, Belle Heath Elementary in Radford City)

Ann Potts, an assistant professor in teaching and learning and a literacy educator at Virginia Tech, also will travel with the group.

Since 1961, the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program has awarded grants to universities, state departments of education, and private nonprofit educational organizations to provide training opportunities for faculty, teachers, and students in foreign countries where the United States has diplomatic representation. Under this program, awards are made to conduct overseas group projects in research, training, and curriculum development.

Virginia Tech’s School of Education is in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The College nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management; Communication; Educational Leadership & Policy Studies; English; Foreign Languages & Literatures; History; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; ROTC; Science and Technology in Society; Sociology; Teaching & Learning; and Theatre Arts.