Education Professor Becomes Fulbright Scholar

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Micaela Rubalcava Image

TMCC Education Professor Micaela Rubalcava

Sixteen post-secondary educators from the U.S. will study Chilean history, teaching methods and culture this summer in Santiago, and one of the group is Micaela Rubalcava, Education Professor at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Rubalcava is excited to study abroad and bring back culturally-rich concepts and deep knowledge to her students and colleagues.

“As a Fulbright Scholar, the 16 of us will study together with Chilean educators," she said. "Chile has boosted higher education enrollment in recent years. The country has made meaningful education reforms, linking public education to progressive ideas, such as inclusive learning."

The title of this year’s 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program is “The Construction of Chilean Identity: Socio-economic, Political, and Educational.”

The Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education office, Office of Postsecondary Education, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State.

The Fulbright seminar is a five-week course, with a one-week pre-orientation in Austin, Texas. Her scholarship will pay the full tuition and travel for the course.

The Scholars will study topics of Chilean culture in relation to the development of citizenship through education, including:

  • Chilean institutions
  • Political movements
  • Relationship of church and state
  • The development of democracy
  • Reforms of the last two decades
  • Social justice movements

“Part of their success with educational reform is due to their music and visual arts integration into the classroom,” she said.

La Nueva Canción (the New Song Movement) is a highlighted topic. Political resistance through song in 1960’s Chile was actually a precursor and initiator of the social protest songs in the U.S. of Bob Dylan and other songwriters.

“I’ll be looking at the way they develop active citizens through the arts and relate that arts integration into educational reform,” she said. "I'm also interested in what they are doing with 'inclusiveness' so that I can apply their cultural approach regarding that concept to Special Education in the United States."

Professor Rubalcava hopes to bring back to TMCC a deeper and more culturally-nuanced teaching methods course experience for her students.

Competitive Application Process

The professor has hosted several foreign exchange students in her home, and is looking forward to experiencing study abroad herself.

In fact, her support of exchange programs was included with the comprehensive application to be considered for the Fulbright award.

In December, she submitted three multiple-page research essays with bibliographies, letters of support from her Department Chair and a colleague, and a resume. One of her essays examined a project plan and implementation that each candidate must complete. She received extra points for being a first-time applicant.

Applicants with the highest scoring point total for their package were selected for the Program.

Final Project

Each Fulbright Scholar will create a curriculum unit to be posted on the national Fulbright Commission website about 90 days after the summer seminar concludes. The 20-30 page unit will then be available to teachers around the country.

“We’re required to develop a curriculum unit project relevant to use at our college, or in the community,” Rubalcava said. “Mine will focus on citizenship education and involvement through cultural expression.”

She will be researching the work of Violeta Parra, a La Nueva Cancion singer and songwriter. Violeta del Carmen Parra Sandoval was a composer, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist who was a leader in the Nueva Canción Chilena, a part of the New Song Movement especially highlighting Chilean folklore. Parra lived from 1917-1967.

“I’ll be transcribing her lyrics as part of my curriculum—it’s motivating for young students to learn through music,” Rubalcava said.

More information may be found on the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program website, and for information about Education Teacher Preparation at TMCC, please contact 775-673-7185.