English Professor Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Grant to Teach in Mexico
As a Fulbright Scholar, Professor Hallock will teach language skills to students in Mexico.
(July 24, 2019) – As an English professor, Thomas Hallock is always looking for opportunities to use communication to build bridges between cultures and foster more collaboration between students and faculty.
This upcoming fall semester, Hallock will help create a connection between students from USF St. Petersburg and those from Cholula, Mexico when he assumes the role of Garcia Robles Chair of U.S. Studies at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) as a Fulbright Scholar.
Throughout the semester, students at UDLAP will exchange emails with students in a senior capstone course at USFSP, discussing things that make their cultures both similar and unique. The students will use these correspondences to inform writing assignments that explore aspects of their culture that can be difficult for others to understand.
“The idea fits within the learning outcomes of our English Major at USFSP, which include reaching across cultures,” said Hallock, the Frank E. Duckwall Professor of Florida Studies. “We’ll explore questions like, ‘How do you communicate despite cultural differences?’ Students will be taught to write about themselves and each other, while anticipating specific audiences.”
At UDLAP, Hallock will teach an upper-level English course designed to strengthen language skills in real-life situations through communications with students at USFSP. Professor Julie Armstrong will teach the English senior capstone course at USFSP, while graduate student Anna Maria Lineberger will serve as a liaison between the two groups of students.
“I’ll be organizing their communications, ensuring that both groups receive the maximum possible benefit from the relationship, making sure that everything runs smoothly, as well as compiling research on the effect of the project,” Lineberger said.
Even English professors sometimes need editors. Hallock credits USF World with helping him workshop, refine and revise his Faculty Fulbright application.
“This grant was not an individual achievement,” he said. “USF World has been enormously supportive throughout the process. The institutional commitment to Fulbrights allowed me to get this award.”
As USFSP continues to develop its international profile, Hallock hopes this project will help foster more cross-cultural collaboration between students and faculty, particularly in countries on the Gulf of Mexico.
“We’re in an era of rampant caricaturization of Mexico and Latin America,” Hallock said. “As a Fulbright, I’m technically working as a cultural ambassador for the State Department. By putting students in touch with one another, we will develop real knowledge and understanding, as opposed to cliched perceptions of one another’s culture.”
“It is not only necessary to foster cross-cultural relationships but imperative that we research how the broad scope of shifting politics and international relations influence different cultures’ perceptions of each other,” Lineberger added. “Making connections is the first step toward creating a shared sense of global humanity.”