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.
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.
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.
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.