U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant Awardees: Portland, OR

Alumni TIES
4 min readJul 21, 2017

As the U.S. Alumni TIES in Portland, Oregon concluded this May, participating exchange alumni developed projects for the theme “Education for All: Inclusion and Access as Pathways to Peace” to compete for funding of up to $10,000. The resulting 15 projects encompassed innovative approaches to barriers for inclusive education across the U.S. and global community and created an extremely competitive selections process with many quality projects. We are pleased to announce the six projects selected for funding by World Learning and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and applaud the impressive ideas presented in all 15 proposed projects.

Congratulations to: Sarah Cohen

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Colombia, 2015–2016

Sarah Cohen is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant with fellow alumna Alexandra Futty for her project “Mi Voz, Nuestra Historia (My Voice, Our Story),” which will train 50 pre-service teachers in creating inclusive and equitable classrooms in Colombia. Her project includes a documentary spotlight on three Afro-Colombians’ lived experiences from the Colombian armed conflict, and their extensive advocacy efforts for full societal and educational inclusion in a new era of peace. This documentary, which will give voice to a long-marginalized Colombian community, will be integrated into experiential dialogue and workshop training for pre-service teachers to build a model for inclusive and diverse classroom dialogue. Mi Voz, Nuestra Historia provides a platform for teacher educators to build a more inclusive educational community and a sustainable model for equitable classrooms.

Congratulations to: Mandy Elder

Fulbright-García Robles Student Research Award to Mexico, 2012–2013

Empowering rural and indigenous university women to take part in social entrepreneurship and regional development, Mandy Elder is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant with Elizabeth Ramirez to implement her “Women’s Leadership Summit 2017 in Oaxaca, Mexico.” Mandy’s project will bring young women leaders from universities in indigenous regions throughout Mexico to Oaxaca City for deeper training in STEM education, sustainable development, and leadership skills, the first of its kind for university women in Mexico. Through incorporating elements of indigenous history, her project will serve as a foundation for young indigenous women to be competitive contributors to STEM and entrepreneurial development while building stronger relationships between indigenous university women.

Congratulations to: Christian Smith

Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) to India, 2017

Christian Smith receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant with fellow alumnus Mario Perez for his project “Chicago Immigrant and Refugee Support Conference,” which will combine training on teaching immigrant and refugee students with a resource fair for those communities in northern Chicago. Chris’ project includes building community partnerships between refugee and immigrant families and empowers first and second generation students by giving them training and responsibility in the conference development and community engagement phases. The Chicago Immigrant and Refugee Support Conference is rooted in creating a more educated and inclusive culture across Chicago and empowers students to be leaders in sustaining that culture beyond the conclusion of the conference.

Congratulations to: Jessica Peng

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Indonesia, 2011–2012

In a project that embraces intersectionality and community-building, Jessica Peng is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant for her project “Interfaith and Interethnic Peacebuilding through Collaborative Digital Media Engagement” (title subject to change) with fellow alumni Katie McClelland and Mariam Waqar. Jessica’s project combats ethnic and religious tensions in Indonesia by bringing together young Indonesians of different religious and ethnic backgrounds to develop meaningful relationships across their differences. The project, beginning with a retreat program to foster skills in dialogue and conflict resolution, will culminate in a showcase of digital media projects promoting messages of tolerance and peacebuilding to the greater community.

Congratulations to: Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to India, 2015–2016

Nicole Stellon O’Donnell is awarded a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant with Beth Leonard for her work in connecting incarcerated Alaskan youth with vital community partners and Native Alaskan elders. Her project, “Fairbanks Youth Facility Community In-Reach Jumpstart,” will address issues of racial and cultural segregation, language isolation, and lack of access to arts education and peacebuilding within the youth facility by working with community partners and establishing relationships for post-detention transition. Her project includes experts in trauma sensitive yoga, Theatre of the Oppressed, comic arts and storytelling, and Alaska Native languages and dance, as well as the expansion of the facility’s library collection with books that represent the residents’ diverse cultural backgrounds. Through peacebuilding and educational activities, Nicole’s project empowers incarcerated Alaskan youth with relationships and skills necessary for healthy reintegration into their communities.

Congratulations to: Mary Wong

Fulbright Scholar to Hong Kong, 2012–2013; Fulbright Scholar to Burma/Myanmar, 2016

Mary Wong receives a U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant with Bobbie Bigby to implement her project, “Pedagogies of Peace: Burma/Myanmar.” By gathering 30 educators from institutions across rural Myanmar to engage in workshops promoting peace and tolerance, Mary’s project will address how education and teacher educators can become agents in peacebuilding and reconciliation in Myanmar. Her project will equip teacher educators with the tools to build peacebuilding activities in their communities after the workshop and will lay the foundation for creating a more equitable system of education across the country’s diverse communities.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and World Learning congratulate these exchange alumni and extend their thanks to all who submitted competitive, compelling projects for this seminar.

As these selected alumni implement their projects, updates on their progress will continue to be featured on the U.S. Alumni TIES Medium page. To see previous U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant recipients, see our past post here.



Alumni TIES

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.