Professor of curriculum and instruction Lori Assaf received a Fulbright Specialist Award grant to travel to Indonesia for two weeks to lecture on language learning and technology in education.
Assaf will be teaching at Universitas Tanjungpura in Pontianak, Indonesia. She will also facilitate a writing workshop for faculty and graduate students in academic writing. Assaf is the plenary speaker for a national conference in Indonesia on Trends in English Language Teaching Methodologies. She has been teaching and conducting research on language and literacy on a global basis for a decade.
“I was inspired by service and the desire to bring Texas State closer to universities outside the U.S.,” Assaf said.
The Fulbright Specialist Program that gave Assaf the grant is designed to increase cultural understanding between the U.S. and other countries. The program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to academic institutions abroad for two to six weeks to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects. These consultants are not only there to teach and conduct research but to build relationships with people in their host country.
“I’ve worked abroad a lot and the people make all the difference,” Assaf said. “I am looking forward to meeting my host and the students at Universitas Tanjungpura and learning their stories and goals.”
Many Texas State faculty members have received an award from the Fulbright Program., including Paige Haber-Curran, associate professor in counseling, leadership, adult education and scholar psychology. She traveled to Austria in spring 2018 to lecture on emotionally intelligent leadership in Austrian business administration graduate education. Haber-Curran said she had always been intimidated by the Fulbright Program.
“I’d always thought it was unattainable,” Haber-Curran said, adding that a workshop held for faculty on the Fulbright Program showed her that it was possible.
Assaf said a large number of faculty members who have been involved with the Fulbright Program highlights the administration’s constant support towards the program as well as the general faculty’s mindset.
“As a faculty, we are very focused on learning and building relationships outside of the university on a global scale,” Assaf said.
College of Education Dean Michael O’Malley said he believes Texas State’s faculty is very interested in contributing to other countries and learning from them. The College of Education tries to bring awareness to the program, with O’Malley, in particular, working with faculty to prepare their proposals and give feedback. O’Malley received a Fulbright grant in 2012 and now reviews proposals from applicants from other parts of the country.
O’Malley said the Fulbright program benefits students as well as faculty. Faculty members develop greater expertise in their fields and bring home new ideas and beliefs to incorporate into their classes at Texas State. Study abroad opportunities for students is often organized by a faculty member after returning from their time with the Fulbright Program. O’Malley is excited to see Assaf’s work and expertise acknowledged.
“She’s very, very talented. She’s the perfect person as both an expert [in her field] and a cultural ambassador representing Texas State and the U.S. in general. She has the talent, enthusiasm, and expertise to be a real contributor,” O’Malley said.
English junior Katherine Betz thinks it’s great that Texas State can reach so far across the globe.
“Maybe Professor Assaf can break the stereotype that all Texans are ranch hands and wear ten-gallon cowboy hats,” Betz said.
Assaf will travel to Universitas Tanjungpura on March 1.