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English professor facilitates international collaboration through Fulbright award

Diane Martinez

Diane Martinez

By Julia Duvall

Diane Martinez, professor of English at Western Carolina University, spent eight months at Ludwigsburg University of Education in Germany, from fall 2022 to spring 2023 as part of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award she received in March 2022.

Martinez’s project, “Creating Cross-Cultural Student Experiences through Internationalized Curriculum Development,” allowed her to work with students and faculty from LUE on collaboration efforts to internationalize curricula. Her goal was to increase international collaborations for students and faculty at WCU and LUE, as well as LUE’s partner institutions, through improving international communication efforts.

“Because I was able to stay eight months in Germany, I formed great relationships and built a strong network I would not have been able to if I had only been there for a short time,” Martinez said. “I taught two courses during LUE’s winter term and spent the spring term creating this network and brainstorming collaboration opportunities.”

Diane Martinez Amsterdam

Diane Martinez visiting Amsterdam during her Fulbright Scholarship visit to Germany.

Through those connections, during the fall 2023 semester, Martinez’s students in her editing and publishing course collaborated with professor Olga Beshlei and students from Chernivtsi National University in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

“The Ukraine higher education schedule is more in-line with our semester schedule at WCU, which allows for more interactions and opportunities to work together,” Martinez said. “I look forward to continuing to facilitate these networks and make accessing these networks easier for students and faculty.”

In working with the Ukraine students, Martinez said that WCU students got a better understanding of how they are continuing their higher education paths despite the ongoing war with Russia.

“It was very eye-opening for our students to partner with these students and see what they are dealing with on a daily basis trying to carry on with their higher education,” Martinez said. “This gives our students the international perspective they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about.”

This semester, Martinez is partnering with Rachelle Breuer, an English language instructor from LUE. She is also working on connecting faculty at both institutions to engage in Collaborative Online International Learning, or COIL projects, where students from WCU and international institutions partner to complete a collaborative project.

“International conversations and collaborations are important for going beyond the ‘single story’ we may come to know about a particular country or culture,” Martinez said. “Instead, we get to know people as individuals who can work together to solve global problems like climate change and poverty.”

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