Friday, November 9, 2012

Teaching: a tool for world peace

a row of teachers sit at computers
Earlier this month, 22 teachers from around the world returned to their countries after a six-week collaboration with Utah State University. Their time together was made possible by the US Department of State.

The Teaching Excellence and Achievement program brought them together and enabled them to share ideas. “These are some of the best teachers from their countries,” said Dr. Steven Camicia,  an associate professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership here at the college. Dr. Camicia headed up this year’s program, along with Dr. Karin Dejonge-Kannan, co-director of the Master of Second Language Teaching Program.

“Really, the experience was amazing as the environment in my country is completely different,” wrote Naglaa Radwan in an email reflecting on her time in the program at USU. She came here from Egypt.

“We’re all coming to this place to learn,” said Dr. Camicia. “I’m learning from them and they’re learning from me.” The program is structured so that one person cannot dominate the conversation. “Bringing all of these different perspectives together, we have more to choose from as a group when we go into our classrooms.”

The schedule was exhausting, packed with a number of general and specialized workshops. Part of the group’s experience included some classroom time in Cache Valley schools.

Radwan went to In Tech High School for her internship. “I was impressed to teach students something about my country and some of our celebrations, and I managed to make a connection between one of these celebrations and Halloween.”

“It’s kind of an effort toward world peace,” Dr. Camicia said. “The impressions that they get here and take back to their countries is very important.”

There is no doubt that the international teachers left a lasting impression on the people who worked with them here at CEHS. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s been a very life-changing experience for me, too,” said Nathan Smith, director of the collge’s Adele and Dale Young Education and Technology Center.

Nathan Smith teaches a workshop
Adele and Dale Young Education and Technology Center Director Nathan Smith  teaches a workshop to the group.

Smith has been involved with the program for two years and worked with two groups of teachers, doing workshops with the group and accompanying them on activities. “I’ve been able to make lifelong, close personal friends with 43 people.”

Dr. Camicia agreed. “There are these deep connections that people make. It’s really very beautiful.”

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