William Paterson University professors Sreevidya Kalaramadam, associate professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Rajender Kaur, professor, English, were awarded a 2019-2020 Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad grant of nearly $100,000 for their project, “Integrating South Asia and Diversity in New Jersey Classrooms: The Roots and Routes of Ethnic Communities.”
As part of the grant, Kalaramadam and Kaur will lead a group of 14 educators, including teachers from New Jersey schools and William Paterson University students and faculty, on a four-week travel abroad in the summer of 2020 to selected places in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
With the third largest immigrant population in the country, New Jersey is home to one of the largest populations of South Asians in the United States. The grant is designed to help educators with the challenges and opportunities in integrating the teaching of South Asia, the region comprising the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, within their classrooms.
The project’s theme of “roots’ and ‘routes” highlights the diversity of South Asian communities in New Jersey and traces their histories of migration and cultural transmission from particular places in South Asia to the multicultural towns of Paterson, Passaic, Parsippany and the Edison/New Brunswick area in New Jersey.
Participants in the travel project will have opportunities to interact with a wide segment of local populations and will learn about the political, historical and cultural contexts shaping South Asia. They will also have intensive language instruction, conduct oral and family histories of migration to New Jersey, and collect teaching materials about South Asia—its histories, political-economy, cultural diversity, and the ways globalization has shaped it.
Prior to the trip, the project will include seminars about South Asia to be held at William Paterson in spring 2020. The group will travel to South Asia in summer 2020, and a culminating conference and development of pedagogical resources will be held in fall 2020.
It is expected that the project will generate a rich repertoire of materials for creating new teaching modules about South Asia, integrating diversity within the curriculum in New Jersey schools, and develop a network of educators in New Jersey capable of integrating South Asia in social science and humanities curriculum at all levels.
The Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad grant is an annual competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education for supporting overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor.
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