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Crossing borders

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Presentation given at the North Carolina Council of Social Studies (NCCSS) Februrary 2016

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Crossing borders

  1. 1. Crossing Borders: Risks and Rewards RUSSELL BINKLEY, WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY REID CHAPMAN, UNIVERSITY OF NC ASHEVILLE NANCY LUKE, WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY,
  2. 2. Overview of presentation  Philosophical Framework  Our Perspectives and Experiences with International Travel with Students  The Benefits of International Travel for Students and Teachers  Perspective: Ghana  Perspective: Kenya  Perspective: Germany  Recommendations and Lessons Learned from Our Experiences  Resources for Teachers  Last Words
  3. 3. Philosophical Framework  We teach from who we are  We inspire and support our students to be global citizens  Personal experiences can support our own changes in practice  The more we know about the world through direct experience, the deeper our personal and professional understanding  All of this informs our teaching  Hard work and struggle is worth it – it’s not a vacation
  4. 4. Our Perspectives and Experiences  Who should go?  Students  Teachers  Who did go and where?  Reid: Ghana  Rus: Kenya  Nancy: Germany
  5. 5. The Benefits of International Travel for Students and Teachers  Themes from our experiences: Empowerment and Independence “The experience has also made me more comfortable with the idea of travelling in general and immersing myself in something so seemingly unfamiliar, and I am now eager for a next adventure. I was constantly learning so much, and I find that many experiences we undertook relate both to the themes and concepts of our class as well as to how I have changed as a thinker. Every moment was a learning experience and I will carry them with me for the rest of my life.” Ghana “Global experience is the best thing that happened to me as an individual and as a teacher- I can guarantee that anyone else would at least feel this same way as well!” Kenya “The trip in its entirety was a new and educational experience for me. This was my first time out of the country and my first time taking a class outside of a traditional setting. Getting to be a part of a different culture was challenging, but with that came rewards. I was able to make new connections with different people from Western Carolina and from Germany.” Germany
  6. 6. The Benefits of International Travel for Students and Teachers  Themes from our experiences: Cultural Contrasts “becoming comfortable – with being uncomfortable – as a white person in the market was one of the best experiences for me. (In fact, the entire trip was a process of acceptance of my own whiteness.) As an “obroni” I gained an awareness of my skin color that I had never had before.” Ghana “They are extremely hardworking, no matter what the situation…We come from a society that tells us that we need all of these expensive things, and here these people go without things that they really need, but they are driven to overcome it.” Kenya “Overall I think their education system works for them. It works for their culture and their way of life. I saw their schools differently because of my culture and what I grew up in and what I see in our own schools. Our education system works for us and theirs works for them. It was eye opening for me to see how different education is but how we all work towards a common goal.” Germany
  7. 7. The Benefits of International Travel for Students and Teachers  Themes from our experiences: Personal and Professional Growth “Throughout the trip, pretty much every day all day, I was removed from my comfort zone. I would even say that my comfort zones changed quite a bit.” Ghana “I don’t think any amount of preparation could have prepared me for the emotional aspect of this trip.” Kenya “ I thought I was going to be the one to impact their [the Kenyan schoolchildren] lives, but they are the ones who changed mine.” Kenya “I have taken World History classes and Holocaust classes, but I didn’t really understand Germany until I was in Germany.” Germany
  8. 8. The Benefits of International Travel for Students and Teachers  Themes from our experiences: Global literacy “I believe that I have a greater understanding of not only the structures and complexities of humanity, but I can also better articulate my place in the space as well.” Ghana “Prior to this trip, I had the typical “village” view of Kenya that is portrayed in multiple films. I was thinking that I would be walking into mud huts with lions prowling just outside the door. But I was wrong. We landed in the beautiful city of Nairobi with buildings towering…and cars swooshing by us as we waited at the curb.” Kenya “If I had to sit through a class with only the German language being spoken all day, I would have been lost and confused. Just being in a foreign country in general and not understanding [the language] that I hear is really intimidating…I hope that in my future classroom and with my future [ELL] students that I am aware of their needs. I see so many teachers that are insensitive to these things but they just do not understand or have the experiences to empathize with these students. Now, I do.” Germany
  9. 9. Perspective: Ghana  “Rosetta Tetebo-Annan suggests that an increase in accessibility to adequate technology and infrastructure would decrease the marginalization of women and lead to more equality between the genders. Yet, it is still important to consider the cultural significance of these divisions, and in what ways they might be empowering for women. The market seems to be a place of power for women, who are pretty much in charge of it all. Ideas of gender equality can be reminiscent of Western feminism and may not entirely take into account ideas of African feminism, so it is important to consider the issue from all of these angles. “
  10. 10. Perspective: Ghana  Wangari Mathaai ‘asserts, “I have always believed that solutions to most of our problems must come from us. …historically our people have been persuaded to believe that because they are poor, they lack not only capital, but also knowledge and stills to address their challenges. Instead they are conditioned to believe that solutions to their problems must come from ‘outside’” (Maathai 272-273). Africans are without question capable of and have the right to be leaders of their own problem solving, both governmentally and at the grassroots level. Akoma demonstrates growing leadership at the grassroots level.’
  11. 11. Perspective: Ghana “Of the entire trip, the moment I was able to say what I truly felt directly to a group [of] people who had no choice but to sit and listen was the most liberating point of my education. It is so stressful to make the decision to speak out on race related issues on a campus like ours. All of your feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions ultimately become political. Never do students of color have the opportunity to speak genuinely unless it is behind closed doors. We always have to be careful not to offend the sensitive white students in efforts to subdue their feelings of white guilt. Personally, after coming home I am far from over always holding my tongue. I learned that in some cases, it is better to just let things out rather than keep them in.”
  12. 12. Perspective: Ghana  “I am aware that all humans make judgments simply for survival if nothing else, but I feel as though my experiences in Ghana have shed light on my judgmental nature. I am better able to recognize my instinct to condemn anything and all things that I see as unjust or unethical, despite my deep desire to remain compassionate.”  “Our trip to Ghana was by far, hands down and without a doubt the best thing I have done in my entire sixteen years in the North Carolina public education system…. I hate to sound cliché and say that the short thirty days we spent in Ghana changed my life, but it really did.
  13. 13. Perspective: Ghana
  14. 14. Perspective: Kenya  “I was not an observer, I was an active participant. I taught. I taught. And I taught. Did I mention that I taught? I literally walked into a classroom on our first day at a school and was handed a piece of chalk by a student. No Kenyan teacher ever joined me as I taught 64 students for the span of about two hours. Not at all an observer.“  “This young man kept speaking to us in Swahili, and we weren’t sure what he was saying..[our translator] told us that the little boy was thirsty [all of the other children] were just as thirsty. I was moved to tears. It was so hard to see children who were having to go without something that was so necessary for life. Things like that will set a fire inside you. It’s a passion I now have that will never go away.”
  15. 15. Perspective: Kenya
  16. 16. Perspective: Kenya - Amy’s Story For the presentation at NCCSS a student’s digital story of the travel experience was shown by permission. However, permission was not granted to offer this digital story for internet distribution.
  17. 17. Perspective: Germany  [In the English classroom] I noticed some student teachers’ … spoke to the students in German while they were in small groups working. On our second visit this was frustrating because I was trying to communicate and work with the students but the student teachers would come by and only speak in German, so I had no idea what was going on.  “In Munich the most moving experience was Dachau, the concentration camp. I have always been eager to learn more about the Holocaust, and this gave me the opportunity to see it for my own eyes where everything happened. It was mind blowing that something so cruel happened on the grounds I was walking on. Although Dachau is a place where many lives were lost, I felt that there was peace in the way the memorial respected and honored those who were killed while still presenting the horrors of this time in German history.”
  18. 18. Perspective: Germany
  19. 19. Perspective: Germany – Jamie’s Story For the presentation at NCCSS a student’s digital story of the travel experience was shown by permission. However, permission was not granted to offer this digital story for internet distribution.
  20. 20. Recommendations and Lessons Learned  Pre-trip orientation meetings are essential for both cultural and logistical expectations  Make decisions related to trip costs and expenditures as transparent as possible  Stress openness – with the experience and other travelers; it is all about what you will learn and not just a vacation  Travel is stressful. Check in with students’ (and your own) emotional well- being regularly  Where possible, avoid falling in poop – both literally and figuratively
  21. 21. Resources for Teachers  No-Cost Summer Travel for Teachers http://www.edutopia.org/blog/summer-travel-for-teachers- suzanne-acord [HANDOUT]  Transatlantic Outreach Program from the Goethe Institute http://www.goethe.de/ins/us/lp/prj/top/txl/enindex.htm  9 Great International Travel Scholarships for U.S. Teachers http://www.teachingtraveling.com/2011/04/22/9-great- international-travel-scholarships-for-u-s-teachers/  Travel Grants for Teachers http://www.travelbeyondexcuse.com/grants/  Teacher Travel/Study Abroad Opportunities https://sites.google.com/site/globaledwa/teacher-travel-study- abroad-opportunities
  22. 22. Last Words from Kenya Traveler Hannah For the presentation at NCCSS a student’s digital story of the travel experience was shown by permission. However, permission was not granted to offer this digital story for internet distribution.

Editor's Notes

  • We are alike and different; shared understandings and personal perspectives on cultural
  • Self-Awareness
    Importance of Communication/Language
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