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Caroline Purcell Returns to Seminary from State Department Fellowship in Palestine

Caroline Purcell in Palestine

Caroline Purcell returns as Mount St. Mary's Seminary's ESL coordinator from her year-long English Language Fellowship teaching undergraduate students and designing and selecting curricula and materials in the English department at An-Najah National University (ANNU) in Nablus, Palestinian Territories.

caroline-purcell-in-palestine-in-text.jpgConnecting with and actively listening to her students and colleagues allowed English Language Fellow Caroline Purcell (2022-2023) to explore new teaching and professional development opportunities. Purcell taught undergraduate students and designed and selected curricula and materials in the English department at An-Najah National University (ANNU) in Nablus, Palestinian Territories. She also facilitated a conversation workshop and writing clinic for students at ANNU as well as speaking and debate workshops with fellow Palestinian Fellows for English Access Microscholarship Program teachers. 

A highlight and first for Purcell was the ability to create and structure the Honors English Language Skills course at the university. After her students helped brainstorm collaborative projects, her class created a semester-long project: “Nablus: A Visitor’s Information Guide” website. This project-based learning approach allowed for students to practice academic English speaking, presenting, and writing skills while planning, researching, and launching a website in English. At the end of the semester, students presented their site to the Office of International Development and External Affairs and invited faculty. 

The second semester focused on intercultural communicative competence. A colleague at ANNU introduced Purcell to a program called Collaborative Online International Learning and the director of the program at a university in Bogota, Colombia. Caroline and that university’s COIL director arranged for students to engage in virtual exchange with university students in Bogota, Colombia. They met throughout the semester, first as a whole group and then in small groups, and discussed each other’s education, work prospects, and religion. Purcell’s lessons focused on helping students recognize their own biases in order to confront biases within their own culture and country.