Country Experts

 

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Country Experts are recent alumni from our WorldTeach programs. They respond to program questions and inquiries about their experience.  Applicants to WorldTeach programs are put in touch with our Country Experts once they are accepted to Stage 2 of the application process.

American Samoa


Country Experts Jackie Rakers, American Samoa Year

Name: Jackie Rakers
Current Home: Chicago, IL
WorldTeach Program: American Samoa 2013
WorldTeach Placement: Faleasao – a small coastal village on the outer island of Ta’u.
Teaching Assignment: Manu’a High School
Subjects: grades 9-12 English
Participated in WorldTeach TEFL program: No
Favorite Teaching Memory: “Getting a phone call from one of my graduated senior students several weeks after I returned to the states. The student had moved to the US to live with relatives and called to ask if I could help him practice for an interview (something we did countless times in class). I received another surprise call a few days later – he had gotten the job and they even praised him on his spoken English! He is now happily working to support his family and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s not every day you get to see the impact you can have on the life of a student in such a concrete way.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in American Samoa: “How a country can be so similar, yet so different, from the United States all at the same time. American Samoa is a crazy mix of the traditional Samoan lifestyle and Western influences that will keep you on your toes all year long. It’s a place you have to experience for yourself!”

 

Country Experts Colin Karnes, American Samoa Year

Name: Colin Karnes
Current Home: Faleasao, Manu’a Tele, American Samoa
WorldTeach Program: American Samoa 2014
WorldTeach Placement: The beautiful coastal island village of Faleasao, Manu’a Island Chain
Teaching Assignment: I taught at Manu’a High School on the island of Ta’u.
Subjects: Science and Mathematics
Participated in WorldTeach TEFL program: No
Favorite Teaching Memory: “My favorite teaching memory was when I had kids perform their own written songs about a particular subject. The kids are very musical and loved to sing along with each other during class time.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in American Samoa: “I was surprised by the sheer beauty of the island and the sustenance that the jungle can provide to anyone who adventures into the woods.”

 

Country Experts Tara Costin, America Samoa Year

Name: Tara Costin
Current Home: Boston, MA
WorldTeach Program: American Samoa 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Pago Pago which is a village in the middle of AMSAM but more towards the eastern end of the island.
Teaching Assignment: Coleman Elementary School. I taught level 4 (9&10 year olds) all subjects aside from Samoan.
Favorite Teaching Memory: “Having all of your students run up and greet you every morning as you walk on campus is something that is hard to forget. But one of my favorite memories is when one of my students accidentally broke a glass window and before I could even finish asking all the students to move away from it, my student’s five year old brother had already fixed it. (You will learn very quickly how unbelievably capable these kids are) ”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in American Samoa: “Being my first year teaching, I almost felt like a fraud coming in the first week of school, but what myself and fellow volunteers found out is that falling into the role as teacher comes naturally and much sooner than you may have expected. ”

 

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Name: Drew Ross
Current Home:
California
WorldTeach Program: American Samoa Volunteer: 2010-2011, American Samoa Field Director: 2011-2012
WorldTeach Placement: Leone, American Samoa: a somewhat urban village on the west side of the main island of Tutuila.
Teaching Assignment: 10th & 11th Grade High School
Subjects: English, covered a US history class for 2 months.
Participated in WorldTeach TEFL program: No
Favorite Teaching Memory: “Dec 1, 2010. I decided that I was going to dedicate the day to lessons honoring World AIDS day. I was very nervous about speaking about such a taboo subject with my at-sometimes-immature 16 year old students but I did it anyway. It turned out to be one of the best days of the year. My students complete lack of knowledge about the subject combined with their genuine interest to be educated blew my mind completely. From the beginning of the lesson to the very end, they were engaged, they asked (appropriate) questions and then they thanked me for talking about a topic that very few people were comfortable discussing. I remember their journal entries the following day being filled with so many positive comments about the previous days lesson.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in American Samoa: “That I would have such an amazing experience which turned an 11 month commitment into a 3 year journey. While some policies or beliefs can seem completely backwards to our North American perspectives, there is actually a deep rooted cultural or institutional belief that has to be respected.”

 

 

 

 

China

Country Experts Ben Mahoney, China Year

Name: Benjamin (Ben) Mahoney
Current Home: Texas
WorldTeach Program: China Hunan Year 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Dayao (rural)
Teaching Assignment: Oral English to middle school students
Subjects: Oral English Participated in WorldTeach TEFL program: No
Favorite Teaching Memory: “Seeing my students get excited about the final project of putting on a skit. Even the guys that had lower level English, or were too cool to participate, joined in.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in China: “I was consistently surprised at the variation between classes in American culture exposure. One class would know and get excited about Charlie Chaplin (or roll their eyes in boredom) and the next class would have no idea who he was.”

 

Country Experts Deanna Gonzalez, China Year

Name: Deanna Gonzalez
Current Home:Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, China
WorldTeach Program: China Hunan Year 2014
WorldTeach Placement: I was placed in Zhuzhou which is a sister city of the capital, Changsha, in the province. It is a modern city with a growing number of western commodities. Very easy to use to public transportation.
Teaching Assignment: I taught at 九方中学 (Go Front High School) for two years. I had Senior 1 students, which is the equivalent to sophomores in high school. I was the Oral English teacher, focusing on students practicing spoken Chinese. I also have had some side project classes, which you can sign up for, to teach French.
Favorite Teaching Memory: “My favorite memory from my teaching experience was my student vs teacher basketball game. I was able to organize with the help of my liaison a Foreign Teacher game versus my students who were on the basketball team. It was a really good bonding experience for my students, other foreign teachers in the city, and myself.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in China: “The biggest thing that surprised me when I arrived was the food etiquette. Our table manners are quite different and it was an interesting experience getting used to it. Things we would consider rude in the west is not and part of a daily eating habit. I have enjoyed taking in the shocks that have come my way and embrace them with open arms as learning experiences.”

 

Country Experts Katie Scott, China Year

Name: Katie Scott
Current Home: China, Hunan Province
WorldTeach Program: China Hunan Year 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Qingzhuhu (suburb within Changsha city limits); Though I technically lived in Changsha this last term, I was stationed at a middle school in a rural area right on the outskirts of the city limits. So, it did not feel as if I lived in the actual city. My little town was called Qingzhuhu and it was quiet and peaceful, much different from the hustle and bustle of the city. I knew most everyone in town, and frequented the same 4 restaurants every day. Some may call it the boonies, but there’s no better way to create a sense of community than a small friendly town like Qingzhuhu, plus no better way to practice your Chinese 😉
Teaching Assignment: My co-teacher and I split the Junior 1 grade between us (aka 7thgrade). So we each had around 10 classes. This is unusual. Most teacher will have between 12-16. I taught exclusively 12 year olds. However, I am staying in China and teaching both High School and Elementary school this year. I’d be happy to answer questions about all grade levels.
Subjects: I taught oral English. The class focus was on speaking and pronunciation skills.
Favorite Teaching Memory: “One of my lessons was teaching the students “action words” aka verbs that they could use in storytelling, things like “climb, fight, rescue” etc. BUT I also threw in the word “kiss” namely because I knew it would make all my 12 year olds laugh and encourage them to joke around with the word and in so doing speak more English. I remember the moment I flipped to the next slide in my PPT with a picture of a prince and princess kissing and the students yelling out a collective “AHHHHHH” and saying “Teacher we don’t like!” while laughing. And I would tease them “do you like to kiss?” and they would yell back “NOOOOOOOO.” It was so funny and made them laugh so hard the whole rest of the lesson was fun. It’s one of the best things about working with middle schoolers.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in China: “A big thing that surprised me was the lack of personal space. It was typical to walk into class and have all the students crowd around my desk, touching my arms, and my computer, trying to open up my iTunes and photo albums, until I managed to wrangle them back into their seats. It was disorienting at first because in the states no student would do that, but it’s quite typical in China, along with prying questions. You could introduce yourself and have the next question be “are you married?” or “what’s your phone number?” There’s no distance between people, both literally and figuratively, which is surprisingly comforting.”

 

Country Experts Jamie Gee, China Year

Name: Jamie Gee
Current Home: California, but currently doing a second year in Hunan, China
WorldTeach Program: China Hunan Year 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Zhuzhou, a city of about 4,000,000 people
Teaching Assignment: Middle School
Subjects: Oral English
Favorite Teaching Memory: “When one of my “problem students” began speaking to me in full sentences and asking questions about what to expect in class. I felt that my class was not only fun, but that I had managed to keep one student moving who was insecure about his English-speaking abilities. Up to that point, I had mostly gotten defensive one word answers from him. I wanted him to be part of class, but as someone who did poorly in math throughout middle, high school, and college (where a history professor finally helped me to see math in a different light) I didn’t want to draw too much attention to him or bully him either. When a handful of words turned into full sentences and questions about preparing for the oral English exam, I was really happy that he was trying to not only speak English but showed me how invested he was in doing well. It was such a small thing, but I was so proud of him for the rest of the year and won myself a little confidence.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in China: “Zhuzhou may not be very international when compared to cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai, but the international connections I find do surprise me. As my students have come to know me better and realized that I am part Chinese, some have even told me about their cousins in America. As my Chinese improved, I was better able to talk to some of the shop owners who knew a sister or cousin in America. I had been warned before that people would not understand how I could be Chinese-American and that my appearance may cause me to be treated quite differently, but I was pleasantly surprised to find people who were much more open to the idea that I grew up as American than I had expected.”

 

Country Experts Tina Irgang, China Hunan Year

Name: Tina Irgang
Current Home: Baltimore, MD
WorldTeach Program: China Hunan Year 2013
WorldTeach Placement: Wulingyuan, a rural mountain community
Teaching Assignment: High school and elementary school
Subjects: Oral English
Favorite Teaching Memory: “Putting on a murder mystery role play with my classes and getting them excited about guessing whodunit.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in China: “Although we think of China as a rapidly developing country, places like Wulingyuan still are pretty closed off in a lot of ways. People are not used to seeing foreigners and are forever curious about what you are doing. Once, a local woman refused to believe that I was teaching in her hometown. (‘Impossible. They only have foreign teachers in Changsha.’)”

 

 

Ecuador

 

Country Experts Ariane Eicke, Ecuador Summer

Name: Ariane Eicke
Current Home: Wyoming
World Teach Program: Ecuador Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Cuellaje (rural village)
Teaching Assignments: 7th – 9th grade English
Favorite teaching memory: “I will never forget my wily 8th graders who taught me how to play Cuarenta and played rambunctious relay games practicing their colors, family members, and school objects, showing me that they had learned something after all.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Ecuador: “One thing that surprised me about living and teaching in Ecuador: It’s so much colder than I anticipated in the cloud forest where I lived, but the people were so warm and welcoming – even though I didn’t speak Spanish really well. The connections I made with my host family and co-teachers are unforgettable.”

 

Country Experts Karissa Hubbard, Ecuador Year

Name: Karissa Hubbard
Current Home: Quito, Ecuador
WorldTeach Program: Ecuador 2015
WorldTeach Placement: Quito, Ecuador. I have been working for seven months as an English teacher at CEC, which is a continuing education from a university,Escuela Politécnica Nacional,
Subjects:The ages that I teach range from 15 years (the minimum age) to 34 years, although there is no age limit, and the classes range in size from ten to twenty-two students. As a native English speaker, I teach the higher levels of English at my school.
Biography: I have grown to love the country that I am serving in and even plan to return after completing my 10 months an ESL teacher. I teach two classes per day each lasting two hours and five days per week; each cycle is exactly forty days long and following there is a two week break, in which I travel to the coast, to the amazon or climb the mountains that surround Quito. My students are respectful and interested in learning. My favorite thing that happens in the classroom is when my students help other students during review activities. This past cycle I constantly told my students, “We will all pass the level together!” In reading my reviews, I saw that students were pleased with this type of encouragement and remembered the quote verbatim. They come from various backgrounds throughout Ecuador, sometimes from other countries in South America, and study English for numerous reasons, such as a requirement for their job or to aid their dream of travelling to the states. I have also been able to interact with my students outside of the classroom, for example, a day of soccer or Ecuadorian volleyball in the parks or getting coffee with them after class. Quito is a large city and the capital of Ecuador, but sometimes it feels small and I run into my students outside of class or hear that they saw me running in the park last weekend. I have gained friends through my past students, other teachers from around the world, and have also stayed in touch with my host family. I have learned my way around and know how to stay safe in such a large city. I was surprised to learn that living in Ecuador, the pace of life is much more relaxed than New York, which is where I am from. I have learned to become patient in all aspects of my life here, both inside and outside the classroom. I continue to learn more about myself and the culture each day that I live here.

 

Country Experts Zachary Karasek, Ecuador Year

Name: Zachary Karasek
Current Home: Kansas City, MO
WorldTeach Program: Ecuador, 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Portoviejo, Ecuador, a coastal city of around 250,000 people; also a 45 minute bus ride from some excellent beaches and only a few hours from the unofficial capital, Guayaquil! I taught at La Universidad Técnica de Manabí.
Subjects: Beginner and intermediate English course, which were open to the community resulting in students from the ages of 13 – 65
Favorite Memory: My absolute favorite memory from my time teaching actually takes place outside of the classroom at a café near the University on the last day of the third cycle. A fellow teacher and I combined classes and spent a few evening hours chat in English and Spanish over coffee and milkshakes. Surprisingly, Il Café is the only place in the entire city to get good coffee! Before getting to Ecuador I thought that incredibly coffee would be everywhere, yet, unfortunately, most of the best beans get exported leaving many less than rich locals a few brands of instant coffee!

 

 

The Marshall Islands

Country Experts Caroline Deschak, Marshall Islands Year

Name: Caroline Deschak
Current Home: Washington D.C.
WorldTeach Program: Republic of the Marshall Islands, 2014
WorldTeach Placement: I lived with a family for a year in Ulien, which is a small rural island in Arno Atoll.
Teaching Assignment: Ulien Elementary
Subjects: I taught English for all grades, as well as science and health for grades seven and eight.
Favorite teaching memory: “By far my best memories within the classroom were seeing the moments of understanding as they happened. When something clicked with a particular one of my eighth graders, she had a habit of pausing in silence for a moment, then quietly saying, “. . . ohhhhhhhhhhhh I see!” Hearing that, and seeing proud smiles during a good day in the classroom, was the best feeling I could ask for.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in the Marshall Islands: “One thing that surprised me about outer island life in the RMI was how shy many people seem. Almost everyone seemed standoffish at first, but that didn’t last. Approach them and continue to do so, learn Marshallese, ask them to teach you how they do something. You’ll find friendly, kind, and hilariously funny people.”

 

Country Experts Charmaine Burrus, Marshall Islands Year

Name: Charmaine Burrus
Current Home: Illinois
WorldTeach Program: Marshall Islands, 2014
WorldTeach Placement: Matolen, Arno; outer island village
Teaching Assignment: Grade School (1-8)
Subjects: 1-3 English, 4-6 English, 7-8 English, 7-8 Grammar, 7-8 Social Studies, and 7-8 Science
Favorite Teaching Memory: “I had students illustrate stories and we made our own books. It was so much fun because they were all so talented at drawing. They all loved just to sketch and would go crazy when I brought out colors!”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in the Marshall Islands: “I was surprised by how attached I became to everyone. I became so close with my host family, as well as several other families, and I knew everyone in my village by name so when I had to leave it was really surreal. I literally walked through my village and said goodbye to every household.”

 

 

Morocco

Madhavi Narayanan, Morocco Summer

Name: Madhavi Narayanan
Current Home: Cambridge, MA
WorldTeach Program: Morocco Summer
WorldTeach Placement: El Jadida, small coastal city
Teaching Assignment: 3 classes (ages 3-9, 10-14, adults)
Teaching Subjects: English
Favorite teaching memory: “One of my favorite moments was with my 10-14 year old class near the beginning of the experience. All of my students were really excited about Taylor Swift, so we watched the music video for “Blank Space” and used the present progressive tense to describe what was happening in the video! It was a funny, unforgettable experience for all of us, and by the end the board was filled with odd phrases such as ‘she is hitting her boyfriend’s car with a stick’ and ‘she is cutting her boyfriend’s shirt!'”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Morocco: “I did not know what to expect in terms of Ramadan and the energy level/motivation my students and host family would have during the day. I was surprised to find that Ramadan is a great time to visit because it really immerses you in Moroccan culture! Young children do not participate in the fast, so they have endless energy to learn in class, and most adults sleep a bit during the day while fasting. During the nighttime, however, the whole community is out on the streets, from infants to grandparents, enjoying the cool air and Ramadan festivities!”

 

Country Experts Molly Sanders, Morocco Summer, hopefully final take

Name: Molly Sanders
Current Home: Columbia, SC
WorldTeach Program: Morocco Summer
WorldTeach Placement: I was in the suburbs of Casablanca, the town of Sidi Moumen.
Biography: I taught a variety of students at the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center. The center was truly the heart of the community’ students of all ages, from young children to retired adults, sign up for classes of interest. I taught Life Skills to primarily high school students and young adults, as well as two English classes to students from 13-50 years old. My classes were so diverse, and each one had its unique character. Some of the most rewarding memories were overhearing words that we had learned used in conversations outside the classroom, from “proactive” to “chillin.'” One of my older students even secured a teaching job of her own after our work on resumes and interview skills. That was amazing. There were so many surprises about Morocco–but I think what surprised me most, outside of teaching, was how much I liked the food! I was actually quite nervous about the typical diet, particularly during Ramadan, but my host mother was a great cook! I find myself missing “couscous Fridays,” a tradition in Morocco. I loved teaching in Morocco and would love to help anyone seeking to do the same, so if you have any questions, email me!

 

Namibia

Country Experts Jamie Long, Namibia Year

Name: Jamie Long
Current Home: Massachusetts
WorldTeach Program: Namibia
WorldTeach Placement: Onamutai, a medium village located about 10km from town
Teaching Assignment: Secondary School
Teaching Subjects: Grade 8 Physical Science, Grade 9 Math, Grade 8 and 9 Information and Communication Technology
Participated in WorldTeach TEFL program: No
Favorite Teaching Memory: “My favorite memory has to be taking over the Girls Club at the school (which they proudly renamed Women’s Health and Education Project). It was a great chance for me to get to know some of my female learners better, and also a chance for them to ask basic questions about sex, teen pregnancy, women’s health, empowerment and all sorts of other issues that they felt uncomfortable going to other people about. I loved seeing my normally shy, quiet young ladies open up to me and to each other– and it became clear that we had quite a few future leaders in that group!”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Namibia:  “While there are obviously many differences, the thing that shocked me most was how many times I thought to myself “this is just like at home”– particularly with things related to school. As a teacher in the US, I found many similarities in both my own routines and the education systems themselves, which helped me to feel like Namibia really was my home, and not just some exotic place I was visiting for a year.”

 

Country Experts Jain Orr, Namibia Year

Name: Jain Orr
Current Home: Austin, TX
WorldTeach Program: Namibia 2013: Rundu, Kavango Region, Namibia (urban by Namibian standards, rural by American standards)
Teaching Assignment: Rundu Secondary School
Subjects: English, Grades 8, 9 & 11
Favorite Teaching Memory: “A bunch of girls very excitedly ran up to me after class to show me a book they had found in their library that was written by an author of a short story we had read in class. This was particularly awesome because it was a Ghanian feminist author (Ama Ata Aidoo), who just so happens to be one of my favorite writers.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Namibia: “I came out of the experience with a huge respect for teachers, in general, and an awareness that Americans speak very nasal-y. Seriously – the kids’ impression of my accent was humbling.”

 

Country Experts Brian Park, Namibia Year

Name: Brian Park
Current Home: California
WorldTeach Program: Namibia WorldTeach 2014
Placement: Likelo, Namibia  (a small bush village)
Subjects: I taught at a combined school (grades 1-10), teaching English and Basic Information Sciences to grades 5-10
Favorite Teaching Memory: “My favorite teaching memory was hearing the kids gradually start to incorporate English into their regular conversations. English is technically the official language of Namibia, but in rural Northern schools such as mine there is little to no oversight about the language of instruction. Hence, most teachers teach in Oshiwambo, and accordingly, learners NEVER speak English except during English class. So it was incredibly gratifying, after a long initial period of disappointment, to hear my learners finally start to use English words, then phrases, then sentences to each other during casual interactions (not just when I was standing next to them). I was so proud to see them all make the effort to self-improve through practice.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Namibia: “One thing that surprised me about Namibia is how insanely contrasting it is, in terms of development, landscape, and people. There’s a reason the national anthem calls it ‘Beautiful, contrasting, Namibia.’; On the 8 hour drive from the North down to the capitol (Windhoek), one will pass through floodplains, bush, mountain ranges, and savannahs. Head further south than Windhoek and you’ll hit the world-famous Namib desert with its giant red dunes. Head west from Windhoek and you’ll end up in Swakopmund, a coastal resort town inhabited by German expats. The contrasts manifest themselves on a daily basis as well. For example, on a typical Sunday I’d be in town eating KFC (yes, that KFC) at 11am while surfing the internet, and by 5pm I’d be back in my village bucket bathing by candlelight.”

 

Country Experts Gary and Dona Aitken, Namibia SummerNames: Dona and Gary Aitken
Placement: Ohangwena, Namibia  (a small town, rural area in the northern part of the country)
Subjects: Dona taught biology and Gary taught computer skills
Favorite Teaching Memory: “In addition to teaching regular biology classes, I  ran review sessions for the seniors to prepare for their national exams and those were the most fun because the students felt like they could ask me anything.  As teenagers they naturally had lots of questions about sex , some of which arose from some surprising and amusing myths, and I was pleased they felt comfortable enough with me to ask about whatever was on their mind.   It was also fun because I brought some equipment, like a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, and the days we used those there were so many smiles and laughs and so much interest from everyone in this totally new experience it was just a great day.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Namibia: “I was surprised at how much was available in the biology room in terms of posters and models, though I think that was unusual compared to other schools.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much was available in the grocery stores.”

 

Country Experts Jessica Edwards, Namibia Summer

Name: Jessica Edwards
Current Home: Originally from Washington, DC but in Houston, Texas for the past 6 years.
WorldTeach Program: Namibia Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Koës is a small “farm” as the residents call it. There is one street that is the “town” with a service station. The population is tiny and you must hike to Keetmanshoop (an hour or so away) to get groceries or shop for anything major.
Teaching Assignment: At Chris Lötter Primary School (grades 0-7)
Teaching Subjects: I taught hostel workers basic computer skills for 2 hours a week. I taught teachers intermediate computer skills for 1 hour a week. I taught grade 7 social studies daily. And I co-taught the following: BIS for grades 5,6,7 PE for 5,6,7 Arts for 5,6,7 and Life Skills for grade 6. I also helped set up the Library/ Information Center during my admin periods and after school.
Favorite teaching memory: ” I had a couple of memorable classes. One was with the hostel workers at the school during our after school classes because they were so eager and excited for each class. Another class was with my grade 7 social studies learners. I changed around the format that they were used to and I could see some of them make connections and think critically.”
Your biggest accomplishment in Namibia: “I would say the most tangible accomplishment would be transforming an old classroom into an organized library/ information center. Also, giving the computer tools to the teachers and hostel workers was nice but the hostel matron was particularly difficult because she spoke little English and she avoided her computer; it was on her desk but still in its packaging. However, I was able to help her create templates for all the forms she needed to create and introduce her to Excel!”

 

Country Experts Fletcher Williams, Namibia Summer
Name: Fletcher Williams
Current Home: South Carolina
WorldTeach Program: Namibia Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Shikudule Combined School, a school of ~700 students from grade 0 – 10. It’s located in the middle of a village 2k off of the main road, right in between Ongha and Ohangwena (the town).
Teaching Assignment: I taught ICT (Information and Communications Technology) to grades 5 – 10, which was about 15 periods per week. I also taught ICT literacy to the teachers after school from Monday – Thursday each week.
Favorite Teaching Memory: “When I was teaching grades 5 – 8 how to minimize/maximize/close windows on a computer, I came up with a short call-and-response chant to help them remember which button was which. It was very simple, and consisted of me leading in with ‘Maximize is a…’ followed by their excited, ‘SQUARE!’ We’d repeat this three times, getting louder with each repetition. It was so popular with the kids that we used it as a way to review and get hyped at the beginning of each class. When it was time for me to leave, the kids followed the truck for a short while, yelling out, ‘Maximize is a square!’ and waving goodbye.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Namibia: “I was amazed at how much I began to appreciate the systems in place in the US, particularly with the education system. Part of getting used to teaching in Namibia was acclimating to ‘African time.’ This meant that many things did not operate with the sense of urgency/efficiency that I was so used to. Ultimately, it was all a part of adapting to the culture, but I now have a renewed appreciation for the mass of resources at our disposal and the general timeliness with which things get accomplished here at home.”

Nepal

Country Experts Brittney Gendreau, Nepal Summer

Name: Brittney Gendreau
Current Home: Burlington, Vermont
World Teach Program: Nepal Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Large government school with grades Nursery-12 in the urban heart of Kathmandu, Nepal.
Teaching Assignments: English levels 4-5. In addition, I spent time in grades 1-3 playing games.
Favorite teaching memory: “One of my favorite memories of teaching was getting to play games with the children and seeing the absolute joy in their faces every time we did something new. The children genuinely want to be in school and learn. I remember one day inviting one of my fellow WorldTeach volunteers to come visit and help play games with my classes and the children were so excited that they had two teachers that day. Everyday after that they wanted me to invite more people so they could have two teachers everyday.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Nepal: “I knew that it would be challenging living in a different culture and teaching English in a foreign country but I was not prepared for how much I would grow to love the culture and the people. Everyone genuinely cares about you and wants to show you their country and their culture and wants to make sure that you are well taken care of. People are also very hospitable and want you to stay with them whenever you want and for as long as you can. I remember talking with my host family before I left and they told me that I needed to come back and stay in their house for at least a month next year so they can show me the parts of the Nepal that I was not able to see during.”

Country Experts Eileen Farry, Nepal Summer

Name: Eileen Farry
Current Home: Arizona
World Teach Program: Nepal Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Kathmandu, Urban
Teaching Assignments: Elementary and Middle School, English as a Second Language
Favorite teaching memory: “One day I was with my class 8 and we had a presenter come in and once the presenter left they started getting rowdy. After multiple classroom management techniques, I finally I stood at the front of the room, straight faced with my hands in my pockets. My students knew that when I did this, I meant business. After a few minutes they all calmed down and knew that I was losing my patience. I turned to write something on the board and when I turned around again, on of my students ha folded a paper hat and put it on top of his head. I couldn’t help but break into laughter. My class and I laughed for what felt like forever.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in Nepal: “Cultural differences! Be prepared to live everything you hear. I knew that women weren’t treated equally in Nepal but it wasn’t until I actually started living there that I realized the extent to what that was true.”

 

 

South Africa

 

Country Experts Jake Anderson, South Africa Summer

This past summer Jake spent time south of Cape Town, South Africa volunteering and teaching English in the townships of Masiphumelele and Ocean View. The first segment of the trip served as an in-country orientation phase. Over this week the volunteers were able to get to know one another and the surroundings while adjusting to “Africa Time”. The second portion was spent working in the “winter school programs”. When Jake arrived in June the students were beginning their winter break. For this part of the trip he worked at the Pink House, an organization in Masiphumelele that provides a great deal of social services to the local community. With this organization he was responsible for helping tutor grade seven students from the local primary school on various academic and social topics. The third phase of the program was spent working in the schools once official classes resumed. There Jake worked with the students on a one-on-one on basis to help them develop their English language skills. He was also granted the privilege to go into the classrooms and work with the local full time teachers. After school he was able to work with various after school clubs and programs to augment his daily schedule. Since the trip, Jake has nearly completed his freshman year of college and is looking forward to his next internship this summer.  Also, Jake will be working towards his skydiving “A” license over the coming months and plans to be a fully certified jumper by the time he goes back to school in September.

 

Country Experts Britney Jarvis, South Africa Summer

Name: Britney Jarvis
Current Home: Salt Lake City, Utah
World Teach Program: South Africa Summer
WorldTeach Placement: Worked in two townships, Masiphumelele and Ocean View.
Teaching Assignments: During Phase One I worked with Grade 7 students at the Pink House and during Phase Two I worked with Grade 1 students at Kleinberg Primary School. At the Pink House we created workshops to focus on reading and writing in English, Math skills, as well as encouraging a positive self-esteem. At Kleinberg I taught a variety of elementary-level subjects and worked in small groups to help some of the lower-level children with their math and reading skills.
Favorite teaching memory: “It would be very difficult for me to choose one favorite teaching moment. There were so many incredible moments from my experiences in South Africa. One very memorable moment for me was when I was teaching at Kleinberg Primary. The children were having a challenging day when it came to listening and treating their classmates with respect. As a class, we had a conversation about what respect meant to them and how they can show respect and what makes them feel respected by others. We discussed how each choice they make can have an impact on their education, if they choose to talk and not listen, they are making the choice to not learn and to keep their classmates from learning as well. The next day in class, I watched a boy who was usually one of the ‘chatty’ children during story time, get up and move away from his friends when they sat next to him and moved next to a student who was known for his good behavior in class. He listened intently during the entire time on the rug and was actively involved in the classroom discussion. After we transitioned to our next activity, I complimented him on how well he did and his response was that he was ‘choosing to learn at school’ that day. It was so wonderful to see a student make that choice.”
One thing that surprised you about living and teaching in South Africa:“When we first went in to the townships, I was a bit apprehensive of how the locals would feel about us being there, group of 10+ people who clearly were not from there, definitely stuck out. To my surprise, we were all greeted with such kindness and warm welcomes from the children in the communities. We were constantly flooded with hugs from the children, even ones we didn’t know. It was great to walk through the streets of Masiphumelele and see all of these children out playing and having fun in spite of the fact that they had so little. We were fortunate enough to create such great relationships with the children while we were there. ”