My passion for international education began during my undergraduate studies at Loyola University Chicago.  I worked as an afterschool program instructor for minority students in inner-city Chicago as well as an ESL instructor for both adults and children in Beijing, China.  From this work I gained an interest in education in a multicultural setting.  This interest led me to pursue refugee outreach work with the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago (or ECAC) focused on ESL training for newly arrived refugee’s from Nepal. My role as an ESL instructor expanded to include teaching employment literacy and well as cultural integration.  The personal ties I built with these individuals helped me shape my focus in international education, as it relates to working with refugees. 


After receiving a degree in economics and international studies from the University of Loyola I embarked on a twenty-seven month contract in Madagascar as a Community Enterprise Development specialist with Peace Corps.  My work was heavily concentrated on implementing income-generating activities in handicraft, agricultural micro enterprises and working with women and youth groups.  My service was focused on teaching a number of topics aiming to promote income generation, women’s leadership, and economic self-sufficiency.  The challenges faced by members of the enterprises usually stemmed from their inability to grasp basic business concepts, largely due to the deficit in the education system.  I realized early on that I could impart the most change in the field of education therefore I diverted my attention towards teaching in schools. 


My experience working in severely underfunded schools gave me some insight to the structural issues in Madagascar’s overall education system. I developed an apprenticeship program for youth from the local high school. These youth acquired vocational training in a particular trade under skilled artisans. Concurrently I taught the students business classes to help them manage and market their products and skills.  In addition, I implemented extra-curricular club activities in order to introduce non-formal learning opportunities to students which were not being offered in their schools such as art and an ecology club, as well as helped host a children’s radio program. 


These experiences culminated in my applying to CIE.  I believe that many of the systemic issues of poverty that I had witnessed lie in the lack of emphasis on education and the quality of education available. My aspiration is to obtain the skills necessary to pursue a career helping to develop or manage educational programs in, or with those surviving from post-conflict settings. I hope to gain tools to help these students confront PTSD in order to adjust to a foreign education system. I am confident that CIE will equip me with the practical skills as well as the theoretical knowledge to succeed in doing this.  I am thrilled with the prospect of collaborating with and learning from such a multi-national and talented team of individuals who bring such wide variety of experiences to the program.


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CIE Graduate