Barbara Fisher, a recent Honors Physics graduate, landed in the Czech Republic recently to begin teaching English and Physics at Gynazium pod Svatou Horou Pribram, a school in the Czech Republic.
She won a J. William Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship, one of the academic world’s most prestigious awards, last semester and is now a teaching assistant in the Czech Republic for the 2013-14 academic year. Fisher said she is teaching around 15 classes a week, two in Physics and the rest in English. She is also starting a club at the school.
“This opportunity will help me to reach my ultimate dream of becoming an international citizen, researcher and most importantly, a teacher,” Fisher said. “I could not be happier.”
Fisher said she wanted to teach in the Czech Republic to try to determine why its students are now out-performing American students in subjects such as Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. “Is it the school structure? The culture? Or something deeper?” she asked. She said this is a change from how Czech students scored under Communist regimes.
Fisher knows she’ll like living there. The Czech Republic “was the only place that could cure my homesickness, when I was studying abroad,” she said.
“I love the people, the scenery and the culture. There are no words that could possibly describe the way the country has changed my view of the world.”
“I would not be a scholar without the incredible support of my Fulbright Campus Advisor, Honors Program, Physics Department, Service-Learning Department, Grants Office and the amazing people I call my friends and family.”
“I really want to also thank all of my teachers who have inspired me as well, because it really has been everyone who made me who I am today,” she said.
History Professor Robert Nichols, the Fulbright Program advisor for Stockton, “guided me though the process,” Fisher said, while Professor Lisa Rosner, director of the Honors program, “has always seen my potential, even when I could not.” She also credited Associate Professor Fang Liu, the head of the Physics Department, as her mentor and advisor, and Professor Yitzhak Sharon, senior Physics professor, with encouraging her not to give up.
“Barb’s a wonderful student, and her previous awards include a Presidential Fellowship and an REU at Duke University,” said Dr. Rosner, a History professor and director of the college’s Honors program. The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. Fisher has been accepted into two graduate programs but said she expects to defer admission to grad school until after her Fulbright teaching experience.
Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program was founded by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946 and now operates in 155 countries. The program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers, and professionals for graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Fisher said her scholarship “will cover travel and living expenses, with a small stipend that will allow me to afford day-to-day life.”
She has also started a blog of her own: http://gapyearcr.blogspot.cz/