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​Chris Muyo '12G has taught English at Holyoke Catholic High School for
two years.

PACT Student Wins Fulbright Award to Malaysia

Chris Muyo ’12G (Martinez, Calif.) has had 19 years of Catholic education — from kindergarten all the way through his master’s degree in education from Providence College. He also has taught at a Catholic high school.

But in January, he will travel to rural Malaysia, where the residents are mostly Muslim, through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

“I thought [Malaysia] offered an opportunity to see what life’s like in a community that’s not predominantly Christian,” he said. 

Muyo is the second PC student to receive a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship this year; Emma Wright ’12 (Lake Hill, N.Y.), who majored in history and minored in French and German at PC, will be traveling to Germany. In addition, Tylea Richard ’04 received a Fulbright fellowship this year to research the quality of life of garment workers in the Dominican Republic.

In 2011, two Providence College graduates received Fulbright teaching awards: Alexandra E. BetGeorge ’11, who went to Bulgaria, and Leah Glass '11, who traveled to Turkey.

The Fulbright Program is a prestigious international education exchange opportunity sponsored by the U.S. government. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Each year, about 1,700 U.S. citizens pursue research or teaching assistantships in more than 155 countries through the program.

Teaching experience

A California native, Muyo said he believes his Fulbright application was stronger because of his participation in the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) program at PC. PACT is a two-year program leading students to master’s degrees in education while they teach in Catholic diocesan schools in New England. 

Muyo, who majored in English at Villanova University, taught English at Holyoke Catholic High School in the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., for the past two years.

“Without the experience in the high school and the knowledge I was able to gain from PACT, I don’t think I would have been as competitive as an applicant,” he said.

Brother Patrick Carey, cfc., the PACT director, said Muyo is the first member to receive a Fulbright since the program was founded 10 years ago.

“He’s a very good student, and an excellent teacher — a very creative teacher,” Brother Carey said.

He described a lesson in which Muyo, who has a background in theater, wore tap dance shoes to pound out the meter of a poem. The students learned how to tap out the different rhythms in the unit’s poems. At the conclusion of the lesson, he had students lead the class in tapping out the meter before they completed a poetry relay exercise.

Muyo also used blogging as an instructional tool for studying William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brother Carey said. His students each assumed the role of one of the characters in the play and then wrote blog posts from the perspective of their character. The students thus developed a deeper understanding of the play and were able to present high-level analysis and commentary, Brother Carey said.

“He taught them to take on the role of the character right at the start,” Brother Carey said.

Holyoke Catholic High Principal Theresa Kitchell also praised Muyo’s immersion-style teaching methods, recalling one day when he taught dressed like Shakespeare himself.

“He is very much into making the subject real for students,” she said. “Dressing up as Shakespeare was just a way to get them to encounter Shakespeare.” Like other PACT teachers, Muyo also has been comfortable incorporating technology in the classroom — for example, using YouTube clips to illustrate allusions, Kitchell said.

Enthusiasm for teaching

She also complimented his spirit.

“From the moment he stepped on campus he jumped both feet into the life of the school,” the principal said. He coached sports, joined the yearbook team, served as a Eucharistic minister, and performed in talent shows. The highest bids at the school’s live auction fundraiser were placed on Muyo’s offer to cook a gourmet meal for a family in their home.

This will not be Muyo’s first experience traveling overseas. He studied in Spain during the summer between his sophomore and junior years of high school, as well as in London for one college semester. He also went to the Beijing Olympics to do a marketing project for a Villanova professor, he said.

Muyo is excited about the prospect of exposing other people to American culture and developing skills to bring back home.

“I have a lot of students from Asian countries in my classroom who came over as exchange students,” he said. “It will be nice to learn more about English language learners and learn how they’re taught English in their countries.”

 

— Liz F. Kay

 

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