A schoolroom in a mountain town in Honduras might as well be the moon to most U.S. teachers. But teacher certification students at Antioch University New England (AUNE), working with Honduran teachers during a field study course, learn as much themselves as they teach others, and discover that there are many ways to teach children.
“[Students in the program get] travel experience: to leave what they know, their assumptions, their confirmations,” said Lisa Bisceglia, an AUNE alumna who leads a two-week field study in El Rosario, Honduras, each spring. “It’s a very poor community. But we do not imply that North Americans are coming to teach them anything, but to share what works best from our classrooms. At AUNE, we have so many resources at our disposal. To go into a one-room schoolhouse with eighty kids and they don’t even have chalk—then you’re really teaching.”
Bisceglia (’01, Experienced Educator) has been leading the study course since 2003. It is part of the Americans Caring Teaching Sharing (ACTS) program, which was started in 1986 to work on community development in a remote area of Honduras. Soon after she graduated from AUNE, Bisceglia accompanied her husband, a Dartmouth College medical student, on an ACTS mission to El Rosario, and she was hooked. On a visit to AUNE soon after that, she ran into Jane Miller and Tom Julius, core faculty members in AUNE’s Department of Education. They helped her design a two-week course in Honduras for teacher certification students.
An eye-opener for AUNE students
“I knew it was going to be different, and it was a lot different,” said Greg Szewczyk, one of the six AUNE students who went last May. “What I got out of it especially were the interactions, working along with the teachers that were there and feeding off what they knew. We did a lot of classroom activities, and I knew that if it worked for the students in that situation, it could work in a lot of other situations.”
Jennifer O’Donnell, who went to El Rosario in 2009 as a student in AUNE’s teacher certification program and then developed an education committee within ACTS for her internship, works with Bisceglia to plan the teacher trips. “Each time I travel to the village, I understand a little more,” O’Donnell said. “I find myself breaking apart what I thought I understood about education, in order to fit in the new pieces of information and student and teacher experiences.
“The teacher trip to El Rosario gives AUNE teachers the opportunity to look at a different education model and system, noting the similarities and differences to our own, and to find ways to adapt lessons, activities, and educational philosophy to fit the Honduran model.”
Empowered for the future
Jane Miller, core faculty member in the Department of Education, said that one student told her that, working with Honduran teachers, she discovered collaborative teaching abilities she never knew she had, which empower her to work with diverse populations.
Another student’s trip to Honduras was her first experience outside the United States. “She was so inspired by the Honduran teachers and their ability to teach with very few resources that she has taken a teaching position on a small island in the Marshall Islands, where the teaching resources are scarce,” Miller said.
Read the blog written by AUNE students in May.
Find out more about the field study in El Rosario here.
Find out more about AUNE’s Elementary Teacher and Early Childhood Teacher Certification program here.
Find out more about ACTS here.