We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
By Mary Kazarian
AUA Communications and Social Media Intern.
This year, the T.W. Browne Middle School will be partnering with the Sukma Bangsa School in Aceh, Indonesia as AUA launches the School-2-School (S2S) program. The two schools will engage in a virtual exchange over the school year and the T.W. Browne will raise funds to provide educational materials for their partner school abroad. Later in the year, S2S will send Hannah D’Apice to the Sukma Bangsa School as an Unofficial Ambassador to volunteer and teach for 2-4 weeks. When she returns, Hannah will share her story with students, colleagues and her community. As Hannah prepares for her S2S experience, she shared some of her thoughts with us.
As a teacher with a degree in International Relations, I have an interest in international education and in comparing the challenges that students, teachers, and schools face in different circumstances across the globe. Therefore I see my volunteer service in Indonesia as an opportunity for myself and my colleagues abroad to share lessons from our different experiences, as well as create mutually beneficial cross-cultural connections around our teaching practices. I hope to take valuable education-related ideas and practices from Indonesia back to my school district in Texas, and I also hope that my partner school will find value in my background with the American education system.
What attracts you to volunteer in your partner country?
The appeal of S2S was not so much the opportunity to volunteer in a specific country, as it was the appeal of an opportunity for students and teachers to interact with peers from an entirely different part of the world. I have limited experience abroad and so am thrilled at this opportunity.
How do you plan on creating connections between your students in America and your students abroad?
All students will participate in virtual video chats so that they can get to know one another and share their experiences face to face. While email and social media are two additional outlets, the face-to-face interaction will be more meaningful. No matter how different their cultures may be, students around the world share natural curiosity and a desire to learn. Through these interactions I hope both my students at home and abroad will recognize that.
How are you going to involve your students in the S2S program? What skills do you plan on using to engage students?
Throughout the S2S experience I will be incorporating lessons on Indonesia into whatever unit we happen to be covering at the time. My students will use their map-reading skills to become familiar with the geography of the region; they will apply critical thinking skills to connect the history of Indonesia with current events we will study; and they will use writing and presentation skills to tell other members of our school and community about their experience with the partner school.
How will you portray or teach about America in an international relations context?
Beyond an introductory overview of the experience of myself and my students in the United States, my lessons will depend on my students abroad. Rather than covering what I believe to be key points in U.S. history, my lessons will be driven by the students’ questions and perceptions, and therefore tailored to what they find most interesting or relevant to their own experiences.