AUA partners with Everyday Ambassador to prepare our volunteers for their summer of service!

Kate Otto, the founder of Everyday Ambassador and the author of the forthcoming book, Everyday Ambassador (Simon and Schuster 2015) led our Summer Service Interns in a great discussion as part of their pre-departure orientation 2for their assignments in Morocco, Tajikistan, and Zanzibar this summer. Kate spoke about four main principles of empathy, patience, focus, and humility and answered our volunteers questions about lessons learned and her own experiences while working overseas and fostering meaningful partnerships.

You can watch the webinar here and learn more about Everyday Ambassador on Kate’s website.

Update from S-2-S teacher Andi Webb!

We have exciting news from School-2-School teacher Andi Webb to share:

Between now and May 20, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting projects through Donor’s Choose and will provide half of the funding needed to teach and learn at Sukma Bangsa School in Aceh, Indonesia. Your support, no matter the amount, will help to expose over 600 students in an American school to a culture different than our own as well as the hundreds of students at Sukma Bangsa.

Andi

Read more here!

School-2-School partner Andi Webb shares her story with local news papers!

Check out this great Fayetteville Observer story on School-2-School teacher Andi Webb’s recent volunteer trip to Aceh, Indonesia. Through School-2-School, students at Alderman Road Elementary in Fayetteville, North Carolina have been skyping with their counterparts at the Sukma Bangsa School in Aceh for the last two years. Andi just returned from her second volunteer trip to Pidie, a town two hours from Banda Aceh, where she taught classes in English and conducted teacher trainings for a group of three schools that were founded for the victims of the 2004 tsunami and Aceh’s internal conflict.

Read the story here

A Big Week

As part of the 2014-15 School-2-School program, middle school students at the Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast Washington DC and at the Arab Evangelical School in Ramallah are taking part in a virtual exchange. Their exchange began with each class of students learning about the other class’ respective city, and the exchange has progressed to discussing and doing complementary assignments in Social Studies and STEM. Just a few days ago, teachers Asante Johnson and Tanesha Dixon departed for Ramallah to volunteer at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School for a week. They will be teaching classes for students in English and Social Studies as well as conducting training workshops on curriculum planning, lesson planning, and using technology in the classroom, among other subjects.

Ms. Dixon and Ms. Johnson shared their pre-departure thoughts before departing for Ramallah. Ms. Dixon’s blog is below and Ms. Johnson’s post appeared yesterday.

A Big Week

By Tanesha Dixon

At the end of the week I am traveling to the Ramallah, Palestine in the West Bank to volunteer at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School (AEES) and to be completely honest I am feeling a whole range of emotions.  I’m nervous because after packing my bags, getting vaccines, attending a pre-departure meeting in which the sheer enormity of the trip finally sunk in, I was overwhelmed. 

3. one on one help

Tanesha Dixon and one of her students

 My nerves are getting the best of me.  I’m plagued with irrational fears of being detained at a checkpoint or worse harmed in one of those suicide bomber attacks that appear on the evening news.   After all, that has been the prevailing narrative of the Middle East for most of my adult life.  And while the past few days have made me a bundle of nerves, I am also anxious to put my proverbial boots on the ground and start the service component of this exchange. 

6. Student helping another student

Students gaining cultural connections through the School-2-School Program

I’m excited to meet the AEES teachers and students and embark on a beautiful journey of teaching and learning together.  My teacher colleague Asante Johnson and I will be delivering workshops ranging from curriculum and lesson planning to technology integration.  We’ve done this in the States several times but this time is special.  This time we’re collaborating with teachers who do not always have access to custom-tailored and personalized professional development.  It is my sincere hope that I can be of service not just for this coming week but remain a valued contributor to the school community.

My emotions all over the place.  I’m nervous, anxious, and afraid yet excited and hopeful about this opportunity.  Maybe somehow this cauldron of emotions will simmer down and I will be able to relax and engage all of heart and senses to truly experience all that the school, community and region have to offer.  This is easier said (or blogged) than done, so as the saying in Arabic goes Inshallah.

Tanesha Dixon is a Middle School Social Studies teacher and Technology Integration Coach at Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast Washington, D.C. She is also an inaugural member of the Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF), a partnership of CityBridge Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund. As an EIF, Tanesha has spent a considerable amount of time exploring, designing and implementing innovations in blended and personalized learning in her classroom and school. Tanesha leads her school’s NGLC Breakthrough Schools DC team and serves in several teacher leadership roles in the DC Public Schools. Prior to teaching in DC, Tanesha was secondary school teacher in Gainesville, FL, where she was honored as the county’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. Tanesha received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from the University of Florida.

A Postcard from the Airport

As part of the 2014-15 School-2-School program, middle school students at the Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast Washington DC and at the Arab Evangelical School in Ramallah are taking part in a virtual exchange. Their exchange began with each class of students learning about the other class’ respective city, and the exchange has progressed to discussing and doing complementary assignments in Social Studies and STEM. Just a few days ago, teachers Asante Johnson and Tanesha Dixon departed for Ramallah to volunteer at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School for a week. They will be teaching classes for students in English and Social Studies as well as conducting training workshops on curriculum planning, lesson planning, and using technology in the classroom, among other subjects.

Ms. Dixon and Ms. Johnson shared their pre-departure thoughts before departing for Ramallah. Ms. Johnson’s blog is below and Ms. Dixon’s post will appear tomorrow.

A Postcard from the Airport

Asante Johnson

As I await the boarding of my flight to Tel Aviv, Israel I cannot help the excited butterflies that I feel in the pit of my stomach. I am actually taking a new step in my teaching career by heading to Ramallah, Palestine to meet Ms. Wafa and her 6th grade classes face to face for the first time. Although I have been in contact with Ms.

Asante Johnson and her student

Asante Johnson and her student

Wafa and her 6th graders since October via the online learning management system “Edmodo” and through weekly phone calls, it seems like I am going to meet total strangers.  I wonder if the Middle East is everything that I have heard over the years: dangerous and unstable, wealthy families and extremely poor refugees, hot and not too fond of Western foreigners… Leading up to this trip I did not give much thought to any preconceived notions that I may have, but now that I am sitting here in the Philadelphia Airport all of these things are playing in my head and I am asking myself “Asante what are you doing!”

My hope is that I will learn a lot about Palestinian culture and gain some new insight on teaching ELL students. I anticipate that the students and the school as a whole will be just as intrigued by me as I them. I must admit that I am a little worried about trying to cross over into Ramallah, Palestine from Tel Aviv, Israel. I have been briefed by the staff at Creative Learning that I might have a hard time explaining why I would like to go and visit Palestine as a single black female out of all the places in the world that I could have chosen to travel to. More specifically, I have been told to expect long lines at customs in Israel and even the possibility of a five to six hour “interrogation” session, all in hopes of being granted the opportunity to deliver the books my students collected and to conduct some trainings with my counterparts in what is for me a forbidden new land. Once again I sit here and ask myself “is this going to truly be worth all the potential hassles…?”

Asante's student researching more about his S-2-S partner school in Ramallah

Asante’s student researching more about his      S-2-S partner school in Ramallah

Quickly I remind myself that this adventure is not just for me, but it is for my students. This trip is for Jazmia who was so intrigued to find out that Arabic-speaking students enjoy the same music that she does. This trip is for Andrew who was so impressed that a 6th grade Palestinian student could write such beautiful sentences in English. This trip is for Arjanae and Brianna who welcomed the students from Arabic Evangelical Episcopal School into our online class because they wanted to know so much about them. This trip is also for Decarus, Demaontay, Johnny and the countless other students at Wheatley that immediately wanted their new Arab 6th grade friends to feel welcomed by including them in chats on Edmodo about various types of sports.

As my plane begins to start boarding, my mind has been refocused on the countless lives that this cultural exchange will affect. How many of my inner city DC Public School students will have the seed of travel and exploration planted in them through this program? Will any of them go on to do more extensive research about other cultures and form a level of respect for everyone on Earth no matter what their background is?

My purpose now is so clear; this is not just a trip overseas, this is a necessary beginning to a new set of experiences for my students in Washington, DC and for my adopted students in Ramallah, Palestine that need to be reminded to dream big!

Asante Johnson is a middle school science teacher and technology integration coach at Wheatley Education Campus.  She also holds the role of STEM coach and enjoys leading robotics teams into competitions.  Asante has held numerous leadership roles, such as department chair, instructional coach, and grade level team leader, in various school districts.  She is also a published science education writer.  Asante was named “Master Teacher” by Orange County Public Schools in central Florida and was awarded PTA Teacher of the Year in Alexandria City, Virginia.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in micro-molecular biology and a master’s degree in secondary science education from the University of Central Florida. 

#Ambassadorof

The #Ambassadorof Campaign was made possible by Kate Otto of EverydayAmbassador.org

What is the #AmbassadorOf Campaign? In a world that is still full of violence, discrimination, and conflict, we need Everyday Ambassadors more than EVER to foster peace and overcome divisiveness. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require any special degree, passport, income level, or language skills in order to change the world for the better! All it takes is YOU, an everyday person, to reach out and connect with another human being.

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Take your selfie today and tag #AmbassadorOf on Facebook,  Twitter (@everydayAMB), or Instagram (@everydayambassador), and we’ll repost to share with the whole community! We’ll post more pics as they come in on our blog and on Twitter.

Sarah Wall presents at Columbia about Gender Issues

Unofficial Ambassador Sarah Wall gave a presentation at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) April 5, 2015, on her work in the summer of 2014, interning in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with a women’s health organization, PKBI DIY.

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Sarah organized her talk to students at Columbia through SIPA’s Gender Specialization track. During the presentation Sarah highlighted key aspects of PKBI DIY’s work in Indonesia such as sexual education, improving access to clinics, and youth outreach.

Americas Unofficial Ambassadors would like to thank Sarah for her service and her continued role as an Unofficial Ambassador.

About PKBI DIY

Established in 1957 with the aim of promoting equal and fair reproductive and sexual health rights for all, PKBI DIY initially ran both educational programs for youth and a clinic-based program that provides counseling services. Since 2005, the organization has widened its support to include services for marginalized groups such as sex workers, street children, LGBT communities, and people living with AIDS through a community organizing program. PKBI DIY also campaigns against gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination.
 

Help Amaris Reach Her Goal!

Donate Today

Amaris Prince is currently raising money to teach English abroad in Tajikistan. Amaris is a sophomore at Guilford College studying English and Education with future plans to work in government on Education Policies. Amaris  chose this country because she wanted to expand her understanding of the Muslim culture and journey beyond the borders of New York through AUA’s program.

Amaris

“I chose this country because I wanted to expand my understanding of the Muslim culture and journey beyond the borders of New York through this program”

To learn more Visit her gofundme page today!

Link to give a gift of $20:
http://www.gofundme.com/EducateTajikistan

S2S: Andi Webb Arrives in Aceh

Walking from the airplane into the airport in Banda Aceh brought back so many memories from this past summer. While I waited for my luggage, I anxiously looked for my friends outside the terminal. I was elated when I saw them and hugs and handshakes ensued. After arriving at Sukma Bangsa Pidie, I quickly settled into a house with four other ladies. There have yet to be any problems over sharing a bathroom!

On Saturday, I observed and taught in an elementary classroom. We discussed respect, treating others with kindness, and allowing time for others to think before blurting out answers. The students shared with their teachers that they felt they could concentrate more when they weren’t allowed to shout out answers. At the request of a student, I shared a fable. I was quite impressed as he explained to me what a fable is and asked me if I knew one. I shared the Tortoise and the Hare and encouraged the children not to brag on themselves and to never give up. Slow and steady can indeed win the race!
On Sunday, I visited the girls’ dormitory and truly enjoyed my time with them. We talked about a myriad of topics ranging from life living with so many other girls to an Indian soap opera on television. It was a relaxing and fun time just hanging out with the teen girls of Sukma Bangsa.

I taught two English lessons today to junior high students. We discussed when to use is/are/am/do/does and other issues of English grammar. I grouped the students into partners and they were allowed to only speak in English. They also each had to write their answers to my questions in English in their notebooks so all students were actively engaged. I think the lessons were successful because I tried to relate my questions to the students’ lives. The questions pertained to One Direction and Taylor Swift after I asked about their favorite singers. The children began writing very simple sentences but I challenged them to make their sentences more complex and they did very well with the challenge. The sentences started out simple: I do like Taylor Swift. They soon became more complex: Taylor Swift is a beautiful young lady. At the end of the second lesson, one student agreed to sing a Taylor Swift song and she shared quite the performance!

Students at Sukma Bangsa are busy preparing for their national examination and the teachers are also busy with their school recruitment period. Sukma Bangsa has a reputation for integrity and it shows in the actions of the students I speak with and encounter daily.

– Andi Webb

School-2-School: Andi Webb Returns to Aceh

Editor’s Note: The School-2-School program has expanded in 2015 to include four partnerships linking schools in the United States with partner schools in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Morocco and the West Bank. The first S2S Teacher to visit a partner school this year is Andi Webb, a 2014 S2S alum, who is returning to the Sukma Bangsa Schools in Aceh, Indonesia to teach and conduct a series of teacher training sessions on topics like ESL education, mentoring and classroom management. This post marks Andi’s departure for Aceh after several months of virtual exchanges between her class at Alderman Road Elementary in Fayetteville, North Carolina and classrooms at Sukma Bangsa. 

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When we Skyped from Alderman Road Elementary with Sukma Bangsa Pidie on Friday, March 27, 2015, I was able to say “See you next Friday!”

It would be so great if we could Skype with students in my own school while I am in Indonesia. (Yet, they are of on break too, of course!)

As I have been packing, I’ve looked back through mementos and thought of the sweet, kind people who gave them to me at the end of last June, early July. It’s hard to believe I’ll be back in Aceh in just a couple days! I am excited, a little nervous, and happy to see my Acehnese family.
My goals are to teach lessons with Sukma Bangsa teachers on classroom management, ways to teach English as a Second Language, differentiation strategies, and much more! I hope to observe their teachers teaching and also teach classes for students. I also hope to deepen my understanding of Acehnese/Indonesian culture and work together with Sukma Bangsa to dispel stereotypes of both our cultures.

My prayer is for safe travels and a wonderful time in my second home!