Southampton Middle School Social Studies Teacher Selected for Immersion Experience in Latin America

From Harford County Public Schools:

Maura Viehl, Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) social studies teacher at Southampton Middle School, is one of 15 educators selected from Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Washington, and Washington D.C. to participate in a six-week immersion experience in Cusco, Peru.

Although several HCPS teachers have applied for this opportunity in years past, Ms. Viehl is the first from HCPS to be selected to participate in this program.

Ms. Viehl was chosen based on her letters of reference, previous study experiences, and responses to application and interview questions. She was tapped by HCPS Supervisor of Social Studies George Toepfer to apply for the opportunity.

From June 24 to August 5, 2017, she and the other educators – led by two Towson University faculty – will participate in language study, lectures, interviews, home stays, excursions, workshops and cultural activities as they explore issues central to Latin America. She will learn firsthand about the history, language, culture, geography, education, art and architecture, indigenous peoples, and modern Peru’s economy and society.

“This is truly one of the greatest opportunities of my career,” said Ms. Viehl.

This trip is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education FulbrightHays Group Projects Abroad program.

Dr. Ronn Pineo and Dr. Colleen Ebacher are the Towson University program co-directors who wrote the grant, and they will not only serve as the tour guides and instructors in Peru, but will also guide the educators as they create curriculum units for use in their classrooms and schools when they return to the United States.

Ms. Viehl gained travel experience while earning her undergraduate degree and in her early years of teaching at a private school. As an undergraduate at Concordia University in Nebraska, she went to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin on a two-week literary/history tour in 2004. She was also part of another Concordia study trip that took a three-week geography tour through the southwest United States and Hawaii in 2005. After her first year teaching, she partnered with a service group to take students to Costa Rica for two weeks in 2007. A year later, she and her students joined another service trip to Saltillo, Mexico.

During her upcoming time in Peru, Ms. Viehl will be living with host families.


  1. S says

    Seems to me that American students should be learning immersion in America. Learning about other countries and cultures is fine, but it seems more and more that our own American culture is being downgraded while other cultures are seen as superior.

    I met a guy who lives in Peru recently. He told me that one of the favorite drinks of the Peruvians is some sort of leaf, chewed on to a liquefied pulp by old ladies in the village, spit into a pitcher and filled with water. it makes some sort of a tea.

    Yep, much better culture than ours.

    Flame away, let’s get it started.

    Seriously, I hope she enjoys her trip and returns ready to teach about their culture and the superiority of our own in many ways.

    • says

      “free” trip to Peru, what could possibly go wrong?

      I agree, a 2 week immersion in Baltimore City.

      Can you imagine seeing your middle School teacher on YouTube riding a 4 wheeler through red lights, “Poppin a wheelie” and throwing up gang signs.

      That’s some real culture there and a big high point of anyone’s education career.

    • Cultured says

      What aspects of American culture are being downgraded, and which are viewed as superior?

      What aspects of American culture should students be immersed in that they aren’t?

  2. Mr Jackson says

    Agree with the previous commenters. WE need to get back to OUR culture. Send them to learn the inner city way of life then send them to Appalachia.

  3. Concerned Parent says

    Unbelievable the ignorant comments on here. She teaches World History and has a great opportunity.


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