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Dan Peters teaching

Peters participates in Fulbright Scholars Program

Long-time English Instructor Dan Peters was recently selected to participate in the Fulbright Roving Scholars Program.

Established in 1987, the program brings American teachers to Norway to teach and lead seminars for both students and teachers. Roving Scholars are asked to offer workshops on American culture, society or history that speak to students’ interests, align with national curricular aims and give students a chance to practice their English language skills.

Peters was one of three educators selected this year for the opportunity. Along with the other Rovers, Peters has been traveling all over the country during October 2021-May 2022 to hold presentations and workshops for secondary school students, their teachers and those who are studying to become teachers.

During his time in Norway, Peters visited 31 schools in 25 cities and towns and spoke to thousands of students. He’s spoke to over 4,000 students and over 100 teachers on a wide rage of topics including Black Lives Matter and Civil Rights movements, American pop culture shows, how to do your own research, conspiracy theories and creative writing.

He has also had the opportunity to facilitate workshops for Norwegian teachers about multimodal composition and academic writing strategies for first generation college students.

For Peters, an important part of his Fulbright experience was building cross-cultural connections and in particular giving young people in Norway a better understanding of American society.

“I often ask students in a class if I am the first American they have ever met. There are almost always students who raise their hands. That’s a responsibility I take seriously. They often have an exaggerated and distorted view of the U.S. and it’s not very flattering. So, one of my goals is to get them to see how our diversity, even when messy, is our strength.” — English Instructor Dan Peters

Peters hopes this experience with students will leave them with a positive impression of Americans. However, more so the experience provided him with a greater perspective on education and how he may be able to model some of Norway’s strengths in the classroom.

“While meeting me for 90 minutes might make a small difference in their lives, these eight months have left a large impact on me as a teacher and citizen,” Peters said. “The time away from the U.S. has given me a new perspective on our educational system, both the strengths and ways we can learn from Norwegian schools.”

In particular, Peters feels that Norway does an excellent job of getting students to not just know something but to understand it. This is accomplished by modeling their classes at all levels more like a university schedule, with classes meeting less than daily but for longer periods of time.

“This [form] allows for in-depth conversation and exploration of concepts,” Peters said.  “Norwegian schools, and culture in general, work on a basis of equality not common in U.S. classrooms. This means students refer to their teachers by their first names, have a say in what and how they study, and are expected to behave appropriately not by strict disciplinary codes, but rather based on relationships formed with their teachers.”

Peters plans to take this knowledge with him back into the classroom at YVC and beyond.

“While forming relationships and in-depth critical thinking have always been part of our teaching at YVC, it is a good reminder that students at any level can benefit from this approach,” he said. “And when I talk with English teachers, I am often struck by how similar our goals are, as well as our struggles. It’s good to know we share so much in common with educators. It makes me feel part of a community of teachers who are dealing with the same issues we are at YVC in very real, human terms.”

Peters feels grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Fulbright program and bring so much knowledge back to campus.

“I am incredibly grateful to YVC for allowing me to travel this year as a Roving Scholar,” he said. “It has allowed me to see another country’s educational system from the inside and to see our own practices from the outside.

“It’s been a year of incredible growth for me as a teacher, and one that I hope fulfills the Fulbright mission of bringing, ‘a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.’”

Outside of the classroom Peters and his family have had the opportunity to experience cultural sites and experiences in Norway such as fishing for cod and eating whale steak, hiking the country’s forests and coasts, and sledding and skiing.

“We’ve broken ice and jumped in the Oslo Fjord from a sauna, been backstage at the Opera House, saw the opening of the Munch Museum, played chess at the downtown library, checked out skis and hit Sognsvann lake during an aurora where we gathered around a little bonfire.”

The Roving Scholar Program is a unique Norwegian Fulbright opportunity that does not exist in other countries.