Graduate Student Appointed as a UNESCO Fellow to Serve in Paris
by Pamela Batson
College of Education doctoral student and Fulbright Scholar, Felicia Wilson, is completing her service as a UNESCO Fellow in Paris, France. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Her work has been funded by the United Nations Foundation as part of a cultural exchange program.
During her time in Paris, she has worked at UNESCO/IIEP (International Institute for Educational Planning). In this capacity she worked with international ministries of education on educational planning in relation to economic and social development and also to promote instruction and educational research. She also assisted in the development of instructional-training courses, seminars, and symposiums on secondary and higher education and in the areas of finance, development, and planning. Her most recent project involved the development and planning of the Directions in Educational Planning: A Symposium to honor the work of Francoise Caillods which will be held in Paris at IIEP-Paris, July 3-4, 2008.
During Wilson’s appointment, she had the opportunity to support the efforts of Louise V. Oliver, United States Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. Among other things, she spoke and sang African-American jazz and spirituals before a delegation of female UNESCO Ambassadors from various countries at a dinner hosted by Ambassador Oliver in honor of Ambassador Shirin R. Tahir-Kheli, who was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to serve as her senior adviser on women’s empowerment.
“The opportunity to work at UNESCO as a fellow has provided me experiences that cannot be garnished in the classroom. Yet, I believe it is the groundwork that was laid for me in my educational experience and the encouragement that I received at PSU that prepared me to be able to make an academic and social contribution to a multi-lateral organization such as UNESCO. This adventure has been rewarding in many ways, culturally, academically and socially. The chance to live and work in Paris is a dream of a lifetime,” said Wilson of her fellowship.
When she is not involved in UNESCO assignments, Wilson works with Habitat for Humanity with the American Church in Paris to aid in efforts to build houses in Macedonia. In addition to these projects, she still finds time to work on her dissertation for her dual Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Comparative and International Education. She spent last year in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar working on her dissertation, titled “Girls Education Movement (GEM): Evaluation of Program Implementation for Gender Equity and School Safety in Cape Town, South Africa.” Wilson has been in Paris since January 2008 and will return to the United States in July 2008.
According to its Web site, “UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.” Through its themes of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, communication and information, UNESCO’s goals are to help developing countries overcome a list of obstacles including poverty, disparity in education, and the loss of environmental resources.
UNESCO Fellows are chosen from applications received world-wide. “Applicants must have exceptional merit, and have demonstrated that they possess outstanding potential to contribute to the social, cultural and/or economic development of their country to be considered for a UNESCO fellowship."