Tracy Davis ’20G, a graduate of Lehigh’s College of Education, has discovered new aspects of Norwegian culture in her time as a Roving Fulbright Scholar in Norway, balancing the effects of COVID on her experience abroad.
“The experience has been a whirlwind,” Davis said in an email. “COVID definitely impacted things and kept me a bit more isolated.”
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s premier international educational exchange, designed to increase understanding between Americans and their counterparts in other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge, and skills. According to the article announcing Davis's recognition as a Roving Fulbright Scholar, she is based in Oslo, Norway, and travelling all over the country to work with secondary students and study the country's civic education and civic engagement.
Davis’s ancestry dates back to Norwegian origins, and her time in Norway has helped her connect with that part of her own story.
“I finally met someone who helped me go through the Norwegian registries and locate family that might have stayed behind when the rest of my family went to the U.S.," she said. "I contacted the local church and hope to visit there in the coming months."
Davis has learned a lot about the culture of Norway, and while there are some similarities to the U.S., she said, there are also notable differences.
“People tend to be more reserved overall and value time in nature and time off from work,” Davis said. “Values I've learned to love as well.”
From her classroom observations, Davis said this culture has benefitted students.
“The thing I like most about the Norwegian school system for middle school is the schedule,” she said. “They go to school about an hour less per day and have 10- to 15-minute breaks between almost every class. However, when I show videos about sports and clubs at schools in the U.S., the students here get really excited and love to see the school spirit U.S. students have.”
Since first applying for Fulbright, Davis said a lot has changed in her focus. She hasn't done as much with civic engagement as originally planned, but she has crafted more workshops to help students identify issues that are important to them.
“My main focus now is just on students understanding what life is like in the U.S. and how schools are different or similar,” she said. “The civic engagement piece is different here because extracurricular activities are tied to communities and not necessarily to schools. But the teachers do a great job of creating lessons that teach students about the world and society they live in.”