Betsey Coleman had travelled to the Middle East several times before, but it was not until her four-month Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program in 2012 that she truly began to understand what diversity in Middle Eastern countries means. In her own words, she describes how she “felt compelled to continue documenting the multiple viewpoints and visions of the artists and arts organizations I have encountered.” Today, she continues to share this diversity with students and teachers across the United States through the website she created during her Fulbright program, “Teaching about Palestinian and Israeli Identity through the Arts.”
Photo Credit, The Fulbright Program
The website includes the pictures and stories of artists and arts organizations that Betsey encountered during her Fulbright program. It is intended as a resource for teachers and students who want to look at Palestinian and Israeli identity through a different lens, widening the perceptions of Americans towards Palestine and Israel. The website “hopes to make Palestinians and Israelis real and immediate for students and teachers who have seen the region through textbooks and media.” At its core, the website is about international understanding and finding common humanity across diversity. Betsey believes that “students who see this diversity through the accessible lens of art and self-expression… become empathetic.”
Betsey continues to use the website in the classes she teaches at Colorado Academy in Denver, including “Coming of Age in the World” and “Contemporary Voices from the Middle East.” She has also presented about how other educators and students can use the website and other global resources to further global education and cross-cultural understanding.