May 27, 2020

Calling All Exchange Alumni: Advanced English Conversation Group Leaders Wanted!

Exchange alumni Holly Wheeler (Fulbright-Nehru ETA to India, 2016-2017) and Pradeep Kumar (Community College Initiative Program, 2011-2012) are collaborating to provide English education to students in Sanjay Colony, a slum in New Delhi. And they need your help to continue!

Wheeler was an English teacher at Shyama Prasad Vidyalaya; she is currently an Education Abroad Advisor at Northern Arizona University and Co-President of the Fulbright Association Arizona Chapter.

Kumar studied tourism and hospitality at Whatcom Community College through the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program, a U.S. Exchanges program, and started his own business, Delhi by Locals, after returning to India. He also started an NGO, Learning by Locals, with fellow CCI Program alumni, Lalit Saini (India, Houston Community College, TV and Film Production, 2018- 2019) and Alka Sharma (India, Northern Virginia Community College, Computer-Aided Design and Drafting, 2018-2019) to give back to the local community. Funded by part of Delhi by Local’s profits, Learning by Locals runs English and computer classes several times per week for youth in Sanjay Colony, a slum in Delhi. The NGO also hosts workshops on social issues, organizes field trips, and helps young people connect to job and internship networks.

In response to COVID-19, Learning by Locals (LBL) transitioned to all online courses at the start of lockdown in March. After engaging more with the community, an urgent need emerged to expand course offerings for free to address mental health and learning motivation for the colony, and now LBL has started teaching over 100 new students in 10 new classes. These classes are taught by LBL and friends around the world, including Wheeler and playwright Harley Adams (Fulbright Student Researcher to India, 2019-2020). Guests are invited, including Learning by Locals friends in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, as well as Fulbright Association Arizona Chapter Board Member, Larissa Goulart da Silva (Brazil, FLTA to University of Nebraska, 2017-2018).

Expanded class topics include multiple levels of English, computer skills (basic skills, Google tools), art, dance, filmmaking, playwriting, theatre, and emotional/mental wellbeing—all taught online via video conference.

Conversation group leaders are needed for the Advanced English Discussion class taught by Wheeler and Kumar. Fulbrighters and exchange alumni from all U.S. government exchange programs are welcome to join, for once or multiple times. The course discussions center around international topics, wellness and crisis response, and global citizenship. The class meets from 6:00-7:00 p.m. India time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, now through the month of June 2020.

If you are interested in connecting with India’s next young leaders and supporting the work of U.S. Exchange alumni, please contact Holly at as soon as possible to set the date and prep for the informal conversation class.

This story was written by Holly Wheeler and edited by Asha Beh at ECA at State. Holly's original version appears on the Fulbright Association website