Learning through Cultural Exchange
By Sylvia Linehan, a former ambassador teacher with Participate Learning originally from Ireland.
I can still clearly recall the day I stepped off the plane after leaving my home in Ireland and how excited I was to meet all the other wonderful teachers from so many parts of the world.
I can honestly say that Participate Learning was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my more than 17 years of teaching and one that I will always hold dear to my heart. The way I was welcomed at the school by all the staff and students made me feel special and proud to be an international teacher.
While I taught the children about my homeland and focused on our global community, it was my students who actually did so much of the teaching. I met children of many nationalities who spoke many languages, but who all had one common characteristic: a passion for learning.
Just as I embraced each of the students’ nationalities and cultures, they embraced mine. We were able to meet on the common ground of global connectedness. Everybody was different yet in that classroom, we were all the same.
Teaching in the US
Participate Learning provided excellent training upon arrival, as well as the opportunity to meet so many other teachers from different countries. From the outset, many teachers shared educational experiences in their home countries, making us all realize that there is not one way to teach children.
I was so focused on my own education system that I forgot how many new and innovative developments there were in educations systems around the world. Now when I reflect on my time in the US, I realize that Participate Learning gave me a renewed vigor in my approach to teaching and learning. For that, I am so thankful.
Teaching children of many nationalities and cultures broadens the mind of a teacher and forces him or her to think outside the box in terms of how to approach the learning process. We as teachers have to realize that all students come with different experiences, beliefs, and expectations that we must respect. This seemed like a daunting task at first, but with the support from Participate Learning and my new colleagues, I was able to adapt my ways of teaching to best fit the needs of my new students.
I believe teaching children is a universal profession, but teaching in different districts, countries or even continents calls for teacher flexibility and understanding. Participate Learning allowed me to become a better teacher by exposing me to that idea – with a hand on my heart, I can say that I became an open-minded, adaptable and more understanding teacher while working with Participate Learning.
Interested in teaching in the USA with Participate Learning? Here’s more information about the program.