Thursday, June 19, 2008
OU alumnus travels with Fulbright group to Ecuador
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web writer
Evan Rokicki, SEHS ’07 and current Master of Arts in American History student, will be spending his summer down south, in fact south of the equator. Rokicki will travel with other teachers as part of a Fulbright Hays group program that will travel to Ecuador to participate in the cultural immersion experience to internationalize their teaching and curriculum. Rokicki will be in Ecuador from July 6 through August 3, when he will begin a new teaching position at the International Academy East that will open this fall in Troy.
The Fulbright Hays Group Program Abroad was open to educators and 4H coordinators. Rokicki, a social studies teacher, applied at the urging of his wife, Sara, who is also a teacher. Sara, who has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Oakland University, has also received two Fulbright travel grants and will be traveling to Japan in October. They competed against each other for the opportunity to go to Ecuador.
“We talk a lot about education and how to run a classroom,” Rokicki said. “We support each other in professional growth and it’s nice to have someone who understands what teaching is like.”
Rokicki majored in history, minored in English and completed OU’s STEP program to become a teacher. He came to Oakland University when his wife took a job on this side of the state.
“I’ve always been interested in working with young people. When I came to Oakland, my plan was to go through the STEP program. I really enjoyed it. Being from Oakland University set me apart when looking for a teaching job,” Rokicki said.
This year, Rokicki taught economics and social studies at Troy Athens in the morning and global studies at Smith Middle School, also in the Troy School District, in the afternoon. In fall 2008, he will teach at the International Academy East, which will be open to Troy School District ninth graders.
“I wanted a chance to travel and experience anything I could beyond the classroom walls that I could bring back to the students,” Rokicki said. “I want to gain an appreciation for the culture and a different point of view. I’m interested in how development in Ecuador is affecting indigenous cultures.”
Through the trip the participants will travel throughout Ecuador hiking, learning Spanish, visiting sites such as volcanoes, mountains, the Amazon, bird watching, canoeing, museums and other historic places while developing curriculum from what they learn.
The trip to Ecuador wraps up Aug. 3 and Rokicki will be back in the classroom on Aug. 12 to start his new teaching assignment. While in Ecuador, Rokicki plans to work on his curriculum for the International Academy and incorporate some of the information he learns into lesson plans.
This is Rokicki’s first Fulbright program, but he has traveled to Costa Rica to help with his wife’s class’ trip to the region. In the future, he hopes to participate in more programs that will impact his classroom curriculum.