My passion for international education is rooted in my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in both Mali (2008-2010) and China (2010-2012). When I joined Peace Corps I had aspirations of working in public health, especially because of its reliance on community peer educators. In a twist of fate that has since defined the course of my life, Peace Corps opted not to assign me to work in public health, but rather, to serve as a teacher in an experimental school in Mali.


While I was in Mali I observed teachers that were overwhelmed and frustrated by their profession due to their lack of training and the formidable class sizes they dealt with. I decided to train teachers from 6 different villages in student-centered pedagogy and I created an environmental and health education curriculum which not only modeled these better teaching practices but also made use of service-learning projects in the local community. Although I could not change the large class sizes, simply providing the teachers with better teaching practices had positive, tangible effects both on the teachers’ outlook of their profession and on the part of the students’ learning. My experience in Mali forged my belief that the challenges facing developing countries can best be combated with improvements in teacher education.


When my time in Mali was drawing to a close I knew that I hadn’t satiated my desire to work abroad. I also knew that even though I was serving as a teacher trainer in Mali, my lack of experience as a teacher in the classroom gave me little credibility on the subject. I signed on with Peace Corps for two more years in Sichuan, China to teach a university oral English course in order to afford me a better perspective on international education.


It soon became clear to me that years of conventional English teaching strategies had strangled the creative and critical thinking skills of my Chinese students. I created a class curriculum that focused on social issues in order to spark interests in my students. Students performed plays which addressed various forms of discrimination in their society and gave poster presentations on environmental issues at campus-wide events to gain confidence in public speaking and serve as peer educators on social issues. After planning these events I became intrigued by the notion of curricula which seeks to make the students agents of change in their communities. 


I am thrilled to be a member of the CIE community; a community which stands as a beacon for all those passionate about improving educational practices while also being cognizant of how education is a tool for empowering people and bringing about social justice. I look to my experience in the Master’s program to challenge my thinking, to expose me to new viewpoints and opinions, and to equip me with the skills to be a leading authority on teacher education.



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CIE Graduate