Arabian Adventure #1: Red Mountain Teacher Receives Fellowship to Gulf States

Welcome to Roar Magazine‘s first ever serial story, covering Ms. Kuropatkin’s two week fellowship to the Gulf States. Be sure to check in on Monday for an update as Ms. Kuropatkin explores education in the Gulf States.

Photo courtesy of Mesa Public Schools

Geography teacher Ms. Kuropatkin is headed back to the Arabian Gulf States. Over her 26 years as an educator, she has received 29 grants, awards, fellowships and publications for her work in international education. The latest of these fellowships will send her to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates from Nov. 11–25.

Seeking to create global education communities, the Bilateral U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce created the TEACH Fellowship, a program which sends 14 U.S. educators for two weeks to meet with Ministers of Education, observe classrooms and learn the cultures of the Gulf States.

“The idea is to come back having established a partnership (or two) with an overseas classroom,” said Ms. Kuropatkin. “This will allow me to set up a post-trip project between my classes here at Red Mountain and the respective classes in the Gulf States.”

Ms. Kuropatkin was chosen for the fellowship based on her extensive work in geographic education and literacy, including being a five time Arizona State Coordinator for National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week. She attributes her fascination with international education to her bi-cultural upbringing.

“My native Japanese mother married my father, an American of Italian and Russian heritage, and immigrated to the U.S. shortly after the Korean War,” Ms. Kuropatkin said. “I was raised with many Japanese values. And especially because I was the oldest child, my mother ‘learned through me’ how the American system of education and many other nuances of culture operated.”

Since she was 11 years old, Ms. Kuropatkin has been studying other cultures.

“At one point, [as a child] I realized that I had checked out and read every single book, in the County Library, fiction and non-fiction, with titles that had been filed under the key word ‘Polynesia’ in the card catalog,” Ms. Kuropatkin said. “So, I did what any nerd would do, I re-read all of them a second time through.”

This is Ms. Kuropatkin’s third time traveling out of the country to work with educators overseas. She has previously traveled to Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

“I love to learn experientially and am a GeoFanatic in that I am enamored with learning about the history and diversity of geography (particularly cultural geography) of cultures around the world,” Ms. Kuropatkin said. “I am especially entranced with the cultures of Asia, Africa and Oceania.”

Ms. Kuropatkin shares thoughts and images from her trip in part 2.