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Solano Widenmann Assistant Principal To Study In South Africa As A Fulbright Scholar

Diane JohnsonVALLEJO, Calif. - Solano Widenmann Leadership Academy Assistant Principal Diane Johnson will spend her summer with a group of high school and Peralta Community College District teachers in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar.

The project title is “Transforming Inequality: Examining Racial, Economic, and Social Justice Movements, Public Health, and Culture in Post-Apartheid South Africa—A Curriculum Development Project for Community College and High School Educators.” Together, the educators will develop a curriculum for classroom instruction and distribution across the state to enhance global studies in education. 

Johnson will spend five weeks in South Africa, visiting Capetown, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and other small towns. As part of her travels, she also will learn the Xhosa language, which is spoken by more than seven million in the southern country. 

“My goal is to bring fresh tools to educators in support of teaching and engaging students and all levels,” Johnson said. “As an educator, I look forward to this project which allows me to learn and observe how educators in South Africa are engaging and inspiring their students despite the inequities within the system.” 

Initially scheduled for the summer of 2020, the project was delayed due to the pandemic.

Johnson went through a rigorous application process that included an essay and interviews with Peralta Community College District leaders. Johnson had to explain in her article and interview how she could connect inequities in our public health system to the issues experienced by post-apartheid South Africans. 

Following her return from South Africa this summer, the Vallejo native will create curricula including two 30-minute lectures and a week of lesson plans which will be input into a database and made available to educators throughout California. 

“I’m excited to learn from and talk to other educators about how their students’ living situations and the political climate in post-Apartheid South Africa impact how they learn. What goes on in a typical classroom? How are educators engaging students?”

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international academic exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, has fostered mutual understanding between the United States and other countries since 1946.

The program provides awards to approximately 8,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals each year from the United States and 160 countries. Fulbright is unique in its binationalism and noted for its merit-based selection process and academic prestige.