Campus News

Fulbright FLTAs bring their cultural experiences to campus

FLI Fellows-h.env
Five international educators-from left

Five young educators from Asia and the Far East are spending the 2015-16 academic year on the UGA campus as part of the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program. The educators hail from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. For all five Fulbright TA grantees, their UGA residency represents their first trip to the U.S.

The FLTA program enables UGA to offer classes in Urdu, Turkish, Uzbek, Tajiki and Pashto, languages deemed critical to national security. By their involvement in the program, these educators enhance their skills by serving as instructors at an accredited post-secondary U.S. educational institution and by auditing classes as non-degree students.

The Fulbright TAs on campus are Ayse Akpinar, an English teacher at a state university in Istanbul, Marmara University, who has taught English for seven years; Shahnoza Mirabzalova, from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, who has taught English for five years; Hamzah Toraby, from Afghanistan, studied English literature at Kabul University and has taught for seven years. He will teach Pashto at UGA.

Tayyaba Murtaza is from Lahore, Pakistan, where she teaches at the University of Central Punjab. She will be teaching Urdu. Ganjina Davlatmandova is from Tajikistan and she teaches at the University of Central Asia. As a Fulbright TA, she will teach Tajiki but her actual native language, Shughnani, is nearly extinct and spoken by only a small number of people in Tajikistan.

“Teaching here has two benefits for us. First of all, it really helps us become better teachers by experiencing the diversity of a different culture,” Toraby said. “It also gives us the opportunity to improve our English and learn about the culture of the United States from our interactions with the students here.”

The Fulbright FLTA’s faculty adviser during their stay at UGA is Alan Godlas, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ religion department, who teaches courses on Islam, Sufism, Arabic, world religions and emotions and emotional intelligence in the world’s religions. Godlas supervises the FLTAs’ instruction and syllabi for the courses they teach, visiting their classes and providing feedback. He also arranges outreach activities to broaden their experience with students and campus life.

Throughout the year, each of the Fulbright TAs will present talks on their country and its language. Godlas also will make the students available to speak in individual classes to augment and enrich a particular section of an existing course.