Wittenberg-Led Ohio Contingent Heads to Poland

Fulbright-Hays $105,105 grant supports study abroad for students, faculty, and Ohio grade 9-12 teachers

Fourteen participants are set to embark on a month-long trip to Poland as part of the prestigious Fulbright-Hays (FH) Group Projects Abroad (GPA) Grant awarded to Wittenberg University through the U.S. Department of Education. The $105,105 grant-funded project was designed and will be led by Heather Wright, associate professor of political science and director of women’s studies, and Michael Anes, associate professor of psychology and department chair.

Developed as an extension of Wright and Anes’ Wittenberg in Poland summer field study program and titled “Exploring the tension between democratic pluralism and nationalistic exclusion of the ‘other,’” the project will engage Wittenberg students, faculty, and Ohio grade 9-12 teachers in travel and study in Poland during the summer. The FH GPA grant will fund approximately 83 percent of the total cost of the project, with Wittenberg contributing the remaining amount.

“We’ve been working with our traveling group for over six months,” Wright said. “Each participant brings their own perspectives to the study and travel project and we are excited to finally be at the moment of departure!”

Participants joining Wright and Anes during this short-term, four-week project from June 1-30 will include two Wittenberg faculty, six high school teachers, and four Wittenberg rising seniors intent on becoming teachers.

The group includes Alex Brouhard, a psychology and history teacher at Oakwood High School in Dayton, Ohio; Matthew Deters, a social studies teacher at Oakwood High School in Dayton, Ohio; Cooper Conrad, a social studies teacher at Trotwood Madison High School in Trotwood, Ohio, who graduated from Wittenberg in 2023; Chet Jarosz, a social studies teacher at Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio; Maggie Zolides, a social studies teacher at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio; Colleen Schloss, a social studies teacher at Akron NIFH STEM High School in Stow, Ohio; Caroline Slick, a history major and education minor at Wittenberg from Spotsylvania, Virginia, who will graduate in 2025; Sarah Tagg, a history major and education minor at Wittenberg from Enon, Ohio, who will graduate in 2025; James Langwell, a history major pursuing minors in education and political science at Wittenberg from Pickerington, Ohio, who will graduate in 2025; Madison Sloan, a history major and education minor at Wittenberg from Marysville, Ohio, who will graduate in 2025; along with Sunny Jeong, associate professor of business and economics at Wittenberg; and Nona Moskowitz, professor of sociology and chair of the department at Wittenberg. Sloan and Tagg are also part of the University Honors program at Wittenberg.

As part of the project, the group will traverse the Polish landscape from Krakow and Zakopane in the south to Gdansk in the north, interacting with Polish scholars, politicians, and citizens via seminars, workshops, and site visits designed to challenge and expand their understanding of the history, society, and culture of the host country. They will also visit Czestochowa, Warsaw, Lodz, Treblinka, Bialystok, and Biebrza National Park, among other places in Poland.

“We will be exploring everything from traditional folk culture to contemporary popular culture, as well as Poland’s ongoing political transition and ideological complexity,” Wright added. “The experiential learning opportunity will provide the group with the ultimate political science text, ripe for analysis.”

“I am a lifelong learner, and this was an incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge,” Conrad said. “I also enjoy WWII history and have visited locations throughout Europe. The Poland trip is an opportunity to see major historical sites. I am most excited to be immersed in local culture and learning local history, local opinions, and interpretations on various events.”

“I want to broaden my experiences in history and learn about a country that played a huge role in history,” Slick said. “I know this trip will benefit me as a future history teacher. I have loved all history since a very young age, so studying abroad allows me to gain a deeper knowledge of Poland. I am also very excited to travel and meet new people.”

“I’m most excited about experiencing a different country for the first time,” Tagg said. “I can’t wait to see the architecture, museums, and honestly eating pierogi in Poland. I decided to apply for this adventure for the experience with current teachers and the opportunity to work with curriculum as an undergrad. I’m also excited about expanding my knowledge of history.”

Wittenberg has a strong track record in winning both student and faculty Fulbright grants. Both Wright and Anes were U.S. Fulbright scholars in Poland in 2010-2011. Wittenberg’s most recent recipients include Reese Harper, Wittenberg class of 2020, who was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Taiwan, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology Keith Doubt, who was selected by the U.S. Fulbright Program, also in 2020, to receive a Fulbright Specialist Award, which allowed him to teach a short course and conduct research in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

To prepare for the trip, the group has had several pre-departure meetings to discuss travel, their daily agenda, accommodations, and food plans.

“We have discussed what we are doing and where we are going in all our meetings as the trip has several different components,” Anes said. “Some of our participants may be most interested in the major Catholic sites we go to and how Catholicism and nationalism became intertwined in Poland because of Poland’s long history of oppression and then, ultimately, Soviet rule and communism. Other participants might be interested in Poland’s long history of being accepting to minorities, so we have spent a long time in pre-departure meetings on the history of the country. We will go to regions where there were lots of different religious minorities in the past, such as Polish Orthodox, Tatar Muslims, and Jews. And yet other participants will surely be interested in what happened to the Jews in Poland during the Holocaust, and we have taught extensively about that before departure. We will visit several Holocaust sites.”

“I have a background in Holocaust studies and have been teaching high school for 13 years,” Zolides said. “I’m excited to be traveling to see the places I’ve studied in person and getting to meet new people, both in the program and in Poland.”

“I want to learn more about Polish language, politics, and culture,” Jarosz said. “I teach world history and would like to learn more about the Holocaust. It will be exciting to be totally immersed in the language and the culture in Poland.” 

“I found out about this opportunity through another teacher. It sounded like an amazing opportunity to be part of and to learn about Polish history and different perspectives and cultures,” Schloss said. “I look forward to learning more about the history and interactions with the culture and people of the country along with outside countries.”

Wright and Anes intend the project to result in the following outcomes:

  • A volume of 9-12 curricula (at least seven curricular modules), with contributions from project participants, for potential statewide distribution for use in social studies, political science, and Holocaust education in Ohio (available to download online);
  • Six to eight new or revised courses focusing on Poland/Central Europe at Wittenberg. These courses may eventually lead to a new minor in Central and Eastern European studies; and
  • A variety of in-person and online presentations by GPA participants to local and national audiences.

The purpose of the Fulbright-Hays GPA program is to encourage international goodwill and cultural exchange. Additionally, the program supports overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development among educators at the K-12, higher education, and graduate student levels.

For more information visit https://eca.state.gov/fulbright. Inquiries can be directed to both Wright at hwright@wittenberg.edu and Anes at manes@wittenberg.edu.

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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