Current Engaging Eurasia Teacher Fellows

Meet our fellows for the 2023-2024 school year.

Victoria Downey is a full time faculty member in Geography at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where she has taught for twelve years in in-person, hybrid and online formats (synchronous and asynchronous). Currently, she teaches Introduction to Sustainability, Physical Geography, World Regional Geography, and U.S. Geography. In addition to her teaching, she also serves as the Co-Chair for the Sustainability Committee at the college and is passionate about advancing sustainability on campus and in the world. Victoria's sustainability work includes the development of a Certificate in Sustainability, and twice acting as a Co-Advisor for the Minnesota GreenCorps Program for which ARCC has served as a host site. She was the recipient of a Course Enhancement Grant through Boston University's African Studies Center (2021) to incorporate Africa-specific content into her Human Geography course. Victoria earned her BA and MA in Geography as well as a Certificate in African Studies from the University of Kansas. Outside of school, Victoria enjoys spending time with her 3 year old son, her cats and chickens, gardening, biking, swimming, practicing and teaching yoga.

Craig Gaslow is a curriculum writer and history instructor from Plainview, New York. He has taught at Great Falls High School in Montana and Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.  In addition, Craig served as the on-camera world history instructor for a Los Angeles-based (Netflix-style) education technology company called Subject. Throughout his career, he has taught a variety of courses including AP World History, AP US History, AP Human Geography, a global leadership elective, and Intro to Spanish. Craig believes an inquiry-based classroom culture is fundamental to learning. As a result, his courses stress the practice of student-led Harkness discussion and Visible Thinking Routines. He has presented on Curriculum Frameworks & Classroom Strategies to Build Global Competence at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference, and Global Education & Technology at the Trinity University Graduate School of Education Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Craig was selected to be a panel speaker on The Importance of Listening at the conference — a discussion on the use of tools like podcasts, radio, and the education platform Listenwise to promote literacy in the classroom. He was a Mentor Educator for the University of Texas at Austin’s UTeach-Liberal Arts Program. Craig earned his MA from New York University. His graduate work focused on the history of 19th and 20th century eastern Europe, centering on the late Ottoman Empire and Yugoslavia. He is a lifelong fan of FC Barcelona.

Wanda Pothier-Hill is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as First Year and Foundational Literacy at North Shore Community College. She holds an MFA from Goddard College, a BA from Mount Holyoke College, and an AA from Mount Wachusett Community College. Pothier-Hill has taught writing and literature courses for more than eighteen years, including Creative Writing, Composition and 2, and Writing About Literature and the Environment. Additionally, she developed two new courses for the Gender and Women’s Studies department: Revolutionary Women–Combating Inequality, Poverty, and Power  and Women and War. In 2021, she was the liberal studies lecturer for the Liberal Studies Lecture Series at North Shore Community College where she discussed the evolution, challenges, and accomplishments of women serving in the United States military. At North Shore Community College, she serves on the following committees: Forums on Tolerance, the Diversity Leadership Council, and the National Coalition for Building Institutions. In addition to her teaching, Pothier-Hill is a writer of fiction, short stories, and poetry. Her work has appeared in publications, such as Gravel Magazine and The Pitkin Review. Furthermore, she has written a novel, The Road Home, and is working on new fiction.

William Daniel I am originally from South Carolina, but have called Colorado home for over thirty years. My BA is in government from Oberlin College and my MA is International Relations from the University of Denver. My greatest joy are my two children, one out of college and working in Hawaii and the other just starting college this fall. I have been a high school social studies teacher in Littleton, CO for 26 years at Littleton High School where I teach World History, and IB European History and IB Global Politics. I am a soccer coach in both girls and boys soccer programs. Department Chair. Union representative. I am also a workshop leader for the IB Educators Network. President-elect of the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC). NEH workshop participant. QFI. TED. TCAB. Gardener. Hiker. Birder. Baker. Brewer. Travel is a joyful privilege - although it has been a while since the challenges of CoVid. I have been to what was the Soviet Union twice - Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, and Uzbekistan. So my true motivation to participate in this program is to reconnect with Central Asia. China twice with stops in Japan and South Korea. Philippines, Belize, Mexico, Bonaire, for scuba. England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Italy. 48 of 50 states, Hawaii has become a must now. And most

Dee Schultz has been teaching a variety of English classes at Osseo-Fairchild High School in Osseo, WI since 2002.  She also teaches dual-credit writing courses through the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Chippewa Valley Technical College.  Dee and her students have participated in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Great World Texts grant for the past 15 years, and this year they are participants in Harvard University’s The Good Project. Before teaching in Osseo, she taught as a full-time English Education instructor at the University of Central Florida, which is also where she received her B.S. and M.Ed. degrees in English Education. Through Staff Development for Educators, Dee traveled throughout the country to work with teachers to create strategies to help students gain necessary literacy skills in a variety of subject areas. During the past 15 years, she has completed extensive coursework with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia at the University of Indiana – Bloomington. Dee also serves as the co-founder and Education Director of The Heartbeat Center for Writing, Literacy, and the Arts, a non-profit organization that offers courses and workshops for people of all ages to explore and hone their artistic skills through various mediums.

Robert Soza is Ethnic Studies, Contemporary Literature, and Composition faculty at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona. Robert is in his 2nd year at CGC, and in his 26th year teaching.  For the past seven years, he has been working to internationalize his curriculum; he's participated in a Fulbright-Hays to Bosnia and Albania, as well as faculty delegations to Mexico, Pakistan, Central Asia and Palestine. Robert holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree in English from Arizona State University. Outside of the classroom, he hikes, cooks, reads, and travels.

Lori Smith is from Hillsboro, Missouri and has been a registered nurse for over 20 years. She is certified to teach medication aide courses, and she is a certified trainer for nurse assistants. She is passionate about educating future healthcare workers, especially showing them how to connect to people of all backgrounds to make healthcare more inclusive and dignified. Lori has 2 amazing children and a Shih Tzu named Sophie who are constant reminders of the importance of love and compassion. 

Parag Bhuva is an Upper School World History, AP Human Geography, Meditation, and African American Studies teacher and Department Head at Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, DC. He has taught there for the past seven years and is in his 11th year as an educator. In addition to teaching, he is actively involved in DC's education politics through EmpowerEd, serves on the board of Technology for Tomorrow, and is currently a GeoCivics fellow. In the past he has also participated in Fulbright's Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship, National Geographic's Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, 4.0 Schools' Tiny Fellowship, and has taught as an adjunct professor at UConn's School of Education. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the Engaging Eurasia Fellowship, where the required readings have already taught him so much. He is excited to bring his newfound knowledge to the classroom as he continues to learn about his numerous historical blind spots in order to teach a truly world history to his students. 

Kristen Larson has enjoyed 18 years of teaching Middle School Social Studies in the Elk River School District in Minnesota.  This is her second time as an Engaging Eurasia Fellow. She holds an undergraduate degree in Social Studies Education from St. Cloud State University and a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education from Bethel University in St. Paul, along with an additional licensure in Family Consumer Sciences from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Kristen is her middle school’s AVID Coordinator and believes in the mission of serving underrepresented students by working to close opportunity gaps. Kristen has also served on several district-wide leadership committees as well as her local education association (Elk River Education Association) where she is the governmental relations chair. In 2016 she was able to travel to Japan with the Five College Center for East Asian Studies and in 2017 participated in a seminar in Tokyo with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.  Since then she has done many summertime enrichment opportunities such as a WWII seminar at UC Berkeley and a week on the USS Midway. In December 2020 she was able to present on her use of Harvard’s Japan’s Disasters Digital Archive for NCSS. In 2023 she presented at the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies conference highlighting digital archives and how these tools can be an asset in the social studies classroom. These opportunities have greatly enriched her teaching and learning practice and she has been able to directly integrate these experiences for her students’ benefit. Kristen also spends time with her husband and two daughters biking, kayaking, and traveling as much as she can. 

Sonja Czarnecki I have been teaching for twenty-four years, and currently teach world history, U.S. History, U.S. Politics and Government and Global Studies at Bishop Seabury Academy in Lawrence, Kansas. For fifteen of those years I also was in administration but recently went back to the classroom full time. I graduated with a distinguished major in history from the University of Virginia and completed a masters degree in American History and Government from Ashland University as a James Madison Fellow. Outside of school I am active with the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, and am currently president-elect. I also serve as the site manager in Lawrence for the American Exchange Project. 

Marina Outwater teaches seventh grade Social Studies at Long River Middle School in Prospect, CT. After earning a B.A. from Bowdoin College in Maine and a M. Ed. from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, Marina has pursued a career in education for twenty-eight years. She also received a M.A. from Adams State University, where she focused on American history. A recipient of two Fund for Teachers fellowships, Marina traveled most recently to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in order to focus on the six essential elements of geography. Marina is passionate about travel and photography, plays ice hockey, and, most importantly, raises twin teenage boys in a house with far too many pets.