Last month, the Global Teachers Institute sent South African student teachers to Chicago to participate in our annual global teaching internship. The program places our student teachers in host schools throughout the U.S. where they can observe and practice teaching in American classrooms. The Chicago program took place at Hinsdale Central High School and Hinsdale South High School.
With our teachers now back in South Africa, here are some insights from their trip:
“I’ve realized that the undermining of the teaching career is a global issue. Teachers in both the United States and South Africa are undervalued. Here, in the State of Illinois, teachers have been on strike and other teachers have been fired. Many schools face challenges with drugs, poverty, etc. These issues are all very similar to what schools experience back home.”
“The most challenging experience about the trip was when I had to do a speech at a board meeting. I was in front of important people that contributed in different ways to making this trip possible: the principals of Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South High School, the organizing team, host families, etc. I was very nervous. I worried that people wouldn’t understand me since I have a different accent. It was the first time I’ve made a speech in such a formal event.
But through this trip, I have learned that I need to believe in myself and believe in my capabilities. The trip gave me an opportunity to do some self-reflection and realize that I have leadership qualities that I need to use to make positive change in my school and community.”
“The most challenging moment of the trip was the first time I stood in front of white learners and had to present. I had never been in a white learner’s class before. Though it was intimidating, I choose to take a risk.”
“What stood out for me was seeing how the schools integrate the special needs program. This has made me even more passionate to continue to advocate for inclusive education in our schools…I am also glad that I got a chance to meet with the counsellors and social workers in our school. This has helped to broaden my understanding and skills as a Life Orientation teacher.”
“Before the trip, I had doubts of whether I would be able to blend in and fit into the lifestyle of my host family and school. To my surprise, I was more than able to blend in. I carried on being myself and the community here accepted me for who I am.
The most surprising aspect of my experience was the amount of questions that the teachers, students and family asked about my life and the country that I come from. I could see that they were interested in me and the country that I come from. However, it was overwhelming and challenging at times. Some of these questions did not make sense and I felt that many people here had a very skewed and incorrect picture about South Africa.
The most transformative moment of the trip was when I taught the Hinsdale choir one of our South African songs and I saw their willingness to learn the song. Everyone wanted to learn.”
Fhulufhelo Thabelo Nemathanga
“Through conversations I had with every person I came across during this trip, I was inspired to go back and do more than what I am already doing. I realized I am not alone in the process of wanting to see a change in the society. Nelson Mandela said, “It is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we led.” I am now inspired to be that student educator who is a good leader, a role model and a true agent of the social change.”
Applications are now open for prospective interns for 2017. For more details, click here.