Archive for the 'Summer Series' Category

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Andy Holmes

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Andy Holmes, one of our doctoral students in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department and a clinical assistant professor/ educational specialist in the Physician’s Assistant program here at Marquette!

aholmesI am originally from Janesville, WI. After high school, I went to Valparaiso University for my undergraduate degree and National-Louis University for a Master’s in Education. I taught English in the Janesville school district for a while and then moved into a curriculum/ librarian/ innovation specialist position; I also coached drama, swim and soccer. I initially started working on my doctorate in 2015 after I learned about UW-Milwaukee’s Information Studies program at a conference. About a year later, I got a job at MSOE as an educational technologist, traveling back and forth from Janesville. In 2017, after my family moved with me to Milwaukee, I started working as a clinical assistant professor and education specialist here at Marquette in the Physician Assistant (PA) program. My wife and I have two children: a son who is starting high school this fall and a daughter who is in 10th grade at Brookfield East. They are on the debate and forensics teams together—and they assure me they’re going to be the state champs!

When I think about the year ahead, it’s often difficult to separate my work from my academic pursuits. I’m excited to be officially enrolled in the Educational Policy and Leadership department’s Ph.D. program. I feel like I have found my niche and I am passionate about the readings and topics, along with the Jesuit mission. The big draw for pursuing this degree was that in searching for a dissertation topic in information studies, I found myself continually circling back to education. Working in the PA program, I’ve recognized a pressing need for education specialists within healthcare. This degree marries my two disparate roles: I look forward to exploring ways in which I can innovate PA education.

Outside of the classroom, I love to ref soccer with my son—it’s a way of getting exercise and spending time with him. I enjoy reading with my daughter and going on walks with my family and dog. When I think about my family and their relation to my work, I have to say I am inspired by my wife. After my undergraduate experience, I graduated with a theatre degree, went back home and started working at a restaurant, where I met my wife. I started subbing in the local schools, and she encouraged me to get a teaching degree, then a Master’s… she always pushes me, challenges me. My wife works hard to make sure our family values are aligned with what is good and right in the world. She runs everything in our home: my kids and my wife are my reason for everything!

Teaching wasn’t my first-choice career. Somewhere along the line I’ve learned that I have an affinity towards nurturing people, to develop higher-order thinking, to see when students have those “a-ha” moments, and those sparks of inspiration. I just love knowledge and the transfer of knowledge. I’ve learned that I have a passion for social justice that I did not initially recognize in myself. I’m excited about the topics and EDPL’s social justice slant on education. I lean towards those topics and critical theory speaks to me. Most people can talk about a favorite teacher or subject, but when I think of my favorite educational experience, it’s paradoxical. It’s both the best and my least favorite life experience: the journey from high school teacher to higher education professor. It’s been both exceedingly difficult and wonderfully mind-blowing. I’ve learned there is so much possible in the world, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Interested in learning more about graduate programs in the College of Education? Check out our website– or, better yet, come see us in person!

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Nelly Gilhooly

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Nelly Gilhooly, one of our undergraduate students in the College!

nelly gilhoolyMy name is Nelly Gilhooly, and I am a current freshman in the College of Education. I am studying Middle/Secondary Education and History. I grew up in Mount Prospect, IL, which is a small suburb of Chicago. I have never lived in Milwaukee before, and I am very excited to be here! Both of my parents work in a school environment. My mom is a first grade teacher, and my dad is a school engineer. I also have two sisters, one older and one younger than me.

My favorite education experience I have had was during high school. My Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) teacher would show us crazy videos and songs at the beginning of each class to make my classmates and me excited to learn. This upcoming school year, I am very excited to learn more about something that is meaningful to me and learn about subjects I am passionate about. I was drawn to Marquette’s College of Education because I immediately loved the feeling I had here. I was very impressed by the connection the tour guides would make with each of the prospective students, and I also appreciated the hand written letters I would receive from the College of Education throughout the school year. My family also went to Marquette, so I am excited to be attending this school knowing how much this school has done for them.

This year, I am excited to go to sporting events and meeting other students at Marquette with similar interests as mine. I know by getting involved on campus, it will help me to make friends that will last my entire lifetime. Although I have only been here for a few weeks now, I would advise any new students to be outgoing and as social as you can be. You never know what you could miss out on! Do not be afraid to be yourself and enjoy the time you have. My inspiration for being an educator are my high school teachers. There was never a time where I felt uncomfortable or didn’t understand what was going on in class. They truly made my high school experience more enjoyable.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Kat McConnell

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Kat McConnell, one of our doctoral students in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department!

katmccI was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. My family (including four little sisters!) still live in St. Louis, so I like to get home to visit fairly often. After getting my BA in Psychology and Sociology at Maryville University in St. Louis, I moved to Muncie, IN in 2016 to get my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Ball State University, and then I moved up here to Milwaukee last summer to start my PhD in Counseling Psych at Marquette!

I love the opportunity to engage in research with faculty and fellow students. I am a part of the Culture and Well-Being Lab at Marquette, and I’ve had the chance to present our research at a couple of conventions with them in the past year, which is both a lot of fun and a great learning experience. This year I will be starting a practicum at the Milwaukee VA that I’m very excited about! I’ll be doing a palliative care rotation, working with patients living with serious illness, and their families.

When I was looking for doctoral programs, my main priorities were finding a program somewhere in the Midwest, so that I can be somewhat close to home, and finding a program with a welcoming, inclusive academic culture. I found both of those in the Counseling Psychology (COPS) program at Marquette. The College of Education and the COPS program cultivate a collaborative and supportive environment that I felt at home in from my first interview.

When the weather is nice, I love to be outside. Milwaukee has so many fun outdoor festivals and beautiful parks to hang out at during the summer. When it’s colder, I love to indulge in local theater, go to the movies, or curl up on my couch with a good book or Netflix show. And any time of the year, you can find me camped out at my favorite Colectivo, which is my go-to  homework/research spot!

I’m passionate about the areas of serious illness and death/grief, with attention to diverse and underrepresented populations. I’ve had the opportunity to work in these areas as a chaplaincy intern in my masters program, and look forward to learning more this year with my VA practicum in palliative care. Although serious illness and death can be an emotionally taxing area, I also find it to be one of tremendous potential for personal growth. I find it a privilege to go on the journey of making meaning out of difficult circumstances and personal loss with clients. My hope is to continue to work in an integrated healthcare setting after graduation, as well as staying engaged in research on how we can better support diverse clients facing illness, loss, and stigma in the health care field(s).

 

On Toothaches, Titicaca, and Dreaming

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Dr. Melissa Gibson

Isla Amantaní sits in the middle of Lake Titicaca, a rock of fields and homes rising up out of the water. It is said to be the spiritual center of the world, and staring out at the Andes and the expanse of Titicaca’s deep blue, it’s easy to see — and feel — why.

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Sunset at Casa Muñay, Isla Amantaní.

This year, I ended my time in Peru on Amantaní, a guest in the house of Mamá Fernanda and her sons, José Luis and Luis Alberto. Their simple home sits on the northern slope of Amantaní, and for 48 hours, I got to sip coca tea, stare at the lake, and marvel at the life they get to lead. There are no cars on Amantaní, so rather than the sounds of the city, the island echoes with bleating sheep, a very loud and angry burro, and — when the colectivos arrive onshore with their tour groups — a symphony of Andean flutes. I was drawn to Amantaní because, after a month of teaching and shuffling eleven undergrads around Peru, I knew I needed a few days to decompress, recharge, and breathe. When I land in Milwaukee after this annual month abroad, I must hit the ground running, the busy life of upper-middle-class America not waiting for me to catch my breath.

What a stark contrast that is to the life of Fernanda and her sons. They live in two humble but loved houses, just up the hill from one another. During high season, they welcome guests into the family home that sits below; the rest of the year, they tend to their sheep and crops. Fernanda spends her days washing potatoes, cooking meals, laundering linens — and shouting up and down the hill to her sons and neighbors about whatever matters in that moment.

At my first lunch on her verandah, Fernanda hugged me tightly and let me know just how happy she was to have me as a guest. And over our remaining meals together, she told me how much she loved being able to work in tourism now, how much she loved learning Spanish as an adult so she could communicate with more people, and how much she loved running this business with her boys. She smiled at me as she assured me, even when your children are grown, you miss them and want them near you; how grateful she is that her boys didn’t move to Puno and instead live right here, with her, where she can make sure they eat right and are always loved. With my own hectic American life waiting to charge forward, I couldn’t help but think, this is the life. Tranquility, beauty, family, rhythm. How much easier to live without the constant need to be more and do more. How much easier to live in a community where every single person knows and helps one another. How much easier to have what you need and no more. At Casa Muñay, Fernanda’s home, there is solar powered lighting and hot water, hand-woven blankets, freshly cultivated meals. There is no wifi, no TV, no malls, no danger. There are no city lights to block out the Southern Cross at night, no interference to block out the moments of each day. In my 48 hours at Casa Muñay, I couldn’t help but think how wrong we’ve got it in the modern, industrialized world.


Of course, this is not the whole story of Amantaní. Amantaní is also considered a community of extreme poverty in Peru, and that fact is evident in the missing teeth of elders, in the worn out shoes just barely covering feet, in the partially constructed homes. Amantaní is isolated, a two- to four-hour boat ride from Puno, depending on the age of the boat, and options for life on the island are limited. In my first conversation with Luis Alberto, Fernanda’s younger son, I learned that he, like so many of the students I have come to know at UARM, was a Beca 18 recipient — a government scholarship for the top students from Peru’s poorest areas to attend university in Lima. But he didn’t accept it. Lima is far and hard to get to. He knew he would need support living there, and who would provide that? Plus, Fernanda needed support here in Amantaní; at that point, his father was still working in the Amazon jungle in agriculture, one of the only options for work to support his family. So Luis didn’t take the scholarship. When he can, he takes classes at the university in Puno in tourism, but otherwise, he is making do with the life that he’s always had on Amantaní — taking care of his mother, watching fútbol in the plaza with his cousins, and bringing tourists to their home via Airbnb.

And Fernanda — Fernanda, who is so grateful to be working in tourism now with her boys, knows that tourism is her survival. Her husband spent most of her boys’ lives working in Lima or in the Amazon, while she was here on Amantaní, trying to survive with little food and little help. Over breakfast, she told me how her mother and her grandmother had suffered living on Amantaní, and how her own boys suffered growing up here, where there are no jobs, no food, no adequate medical care or education. A few years ago, her husband died in the jungle where he was working. The family has yet to go there. It is expensive and far and he’s already gone. She told me how every day, even before her husband was lost to the jungle, she would cry, and when her boys were big enough, they said, “Stop crying, Mamá; we are going to take care of you. We are going to bring tourists to our home and make a business.”

However, high season is only three months. The rest of the year, the family tends to their fields and flocks. Tourism provides enough money so that they won’t go hungry in the off-season — but not enough money to help Fernanda with her teeth, about which Luis Alberto told me, “Se sufre mucho por su dientes.” My second day at Casa Muñay, Fernanda woke up with a terrible toothache. Her jaw was swollen and hot, clear signs of infection. But the medical post on the island doesn’t have antibiotics, and Puno is hours away by boat. Before she could go anywhere, she needed to bring water to her sheep, finish her potato harvest, and hang the wash in the sun (and she refused my help because I am a guest in her home). Instead, she made an herbal poultice to put on her jawline, gladly accepted my bottle of ibuprofen, and went about her daily life. She will get to a medical clinic when she can — if she can — and odds are, this is just one more tooth she will lose.


My students and I ended the academic portion of our time in Peru considering self-determination, a concept we don’t typically talk about in teacher education coursework. What is it? Why is it necessary for justice? As we considered these questions from an academic perspective, we also considered them experientially in the small town of Andahuaylillas. In town, the local Fé y Alegría school is bilingual and bicultural, Quechua and Spanish, and local pedagogical specialists spend their workweeks in isolated high-altitude communities, accompanying the educators and families there in their own journeys of educational self-determination. We also visited Cuyuní, one of those high-altitude communities, where families are transforming the material conditions of their lives through sustainable practices, economic cooperatives, and partnerships with the Fé y Alegría teachers. At our final seminar, predictably, my students marveled at how both of these communities defied expectations of rural poverty, how people seemed so happy and proud with what they had, and how neither seemed to be a community in need. These communities were making their own way in the world, partnering with those who have additional resources when they can, but proudly holding onto their identities, cultures, and communities.

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Mural at the parish in Andahuaylillas.

The reality, however, is complex, and I’m reminded of that as a guest at Casa Muñay. In this month, I have wanted my students to see each community they meet through an asset-based lens. I have wanted them to see strengths and innovation and community; I have wanted them to see beyond the surface of needs and deficits to instead meet communities through what Eve Tuck calls a “desire-based” lens. Tuck tells us that desire

““[Y]es, accounts for the loss and despair, but also the hope, the visions, the wisdom of lived lives and communities. Desire is involved with the not yet and, at times, the not anymore.”

But it’s not enough to simply see desires rather than damages. Seeing those desires doesn’t undo the fact that injustice persists. The question is, what will we do once we see those desires? How will we accompany communities as they move towards making their desires a reality?

In so many ways, the life that Fernanda, Luis, and José have constructed for themselves is beautiful, but it is also fundamentally unjust that Fernanda suffers from crippling toothaches, that they never got to say goodbye to their husband and father, and that their community’s livelihood is threatened by a changing climate not of their making. I don’t believe that acknowledging these things is giving in to deficit or damage-centered thinking. Rather, to acknowledge these things is to acknowledge the complicated reality that Fernanda and her boys live in, or as Eve Tuck says, to acknowledge the “complexity, contradiction, and the self-determination of lived lives.” Reality: Jesuit teaching tells us we need to humbly submit to the multitude of realities that exist in the world in order to accompany one another on our struggles to transform those realities toward justice. So maybe justice requires an acknowledgement of reality, but also a dream for what’s next. Justice is the desire for the “not yet,” and the “not anymore.”


When it comes to education, we keep trying to define justice as a specific, concrete thing: Equal funding. Desegregated schools. Parental choice. Equalized achievement. Standardized curriculum. Individualized teaching. Project-based learning. We want an answer, a solution, a ten-point plan.

Instead, maybe we need to consider Nancy Fraser’s assertion that justice is achieved through negation, through a state of always fighting back against the injustices we see:

““[J]ustice is never actually experienced directly. By contrast, we do experience injustice, and it is only through this that we form an idea of justice. Only by pondering the character of what we consider unjust do we begin to get a sense of what would count as an alternative. Only when we contemplate what it would take to overcome injustice does our otherwise abstract concept of justice acquire any content. Thus, the answer to Socrates’s question, ‘What is justice?’ can only be this: justice is the overcoming of injustice.”

In this understanding of justice, it becomes easier to sit with the complicated reality of places like Amantaní or Cuyuní, to understand that self-determination requires that we dismantle systems of injustice, but that we do so while also honoring and submitting to the beautiful, complicated, rich lives that persist in spite of those injustices. Because, to again quote Eve Tuck, “This is to say that even when communities are broken and conquered, they are so much more than that — so much more that this incomplete story is an act of aggression.”

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Fé y Alegría, Andahuaylillas.

Instead, justice demands that we see colonial histories at the same time that we imagine decolonized futures. Justice demands that we celebrate what Mamá Fernanda and her sons have built at the same time that we fight for fundamental human rights, such as adequate health care. Justice demands that we learn to listen, to witness, and to accompany. Justice demands, as Tuck calls it, desire:

“Desire is about longing, about a present that is enriched by both the past and the future. It is integral to our humanness…Desire is the song about walking through the storm, a song that recognizes rather than denies that pain doubtlessly lies ahead.”


Or maybe not. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m still entrenched in damage-centered thinking. What I do know for sure is that, after a month in Peru, there is so much I don’t know other than the power of human connection. And I am also sure that this human connection—along with uncertainty, outrage, creativity, and joy—is essential for moving social transformation. In her book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching & the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, Bettina Love quotes writer and activist adrienne marie brown, who says, “All social justice work is science fiction. We are imagining a world free of injustice, a world that doesn’t yet exist.” Love goes on to connect this to freedom dreaming, or the ability to envision and struggle towards a future of freedom where you can “create your reality, where uplifting humanity is at the center of all decisions.” This is not easy work. No, this is struggle. And freedom dreaming — or what Love also calls abolitionist teaching — is

“[W]elcoming struggles, setbacks, and disagreements, because one understands the complexity of uprooting injustice but finds beauty in the struggle. Abolitionist teachers fight for children they will never meet or see, because they are visionaries. They fight for a world that has yet to be created and for children’s dreams that have yet to be crushed by anti-Blackness.”

Abolitionist teachers are driven by desire, by sovereignty, by joy, by love, by rage, by relationships, by principle, by imagination, by struggle. And I feel all of these things as I sit with Mamá Fernanda, who is smiling and talking to me despite her pain. My time with her, like all of my time in Peru, is a “yes, and” experience, an experience that re-roots me in desire and freedom dreaming and an urgency to do more in my daily life to transform our world toward justice. And if nothing else, I hope that after a month in Peru, my students are also freedom dreaming about a world that is not yet, but will one day be.

From Lima to Cusco

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Mary Kate Jezuit

machu-pichu-peru-inca-places-monuments-a419a5-1024It is hard to believe our time in Peru has come to an end. As I am writing this final post on the flight home, I find myself reflecting on the experiences of this past month. Though this month flew by, it feels like I have been in Peru for so much longer. This last week in Cusco has given me an entirely new layer and context to my overall understanding of Peru. The Andean context is so different than that of Lima, the lifestyle is different, and the culture is different, giving schools in the Andes unique strengths and challenges. These various contexts do matter when it comes to education because it determines the needs of a school and the aims of education. For example, in the Andes students will often walk hours to and from school because transportation and schools are not as accessible as they are in Lima. Additionally, the language and culture of Quechua is something that many students are a part of, but it is looked down upon by the rest of Peru. Since the soil is not ideal for growing many fruits and vegetables a lot of students are lacking these nutrients. These are just a few of the major challenges that are specific to an Andean context, that are not present in Lima.

When it comes to an “equal education”, if there is anything I have learned from this month, it is that this term is anything but black and white. Of course education is not going to be exactly the same in both Lima and Cusco, because of the totally different contexts and ways of life. An “equal education” does not mean providing the exact same materials or teaching in the exact same way to two populations with different needs. In fact, this would be giving one group the short end of the stick, despite it being equal by definition. Therefore, no, the education in Lima and the Andes is not equal, so the question is, is it equitable, or fair considering the circumstances and ultimately, is it just? From the perspective of the Fe y Alegria school we visited in Cusco and having that be the only example of a school from the Andes, education is equitable- to an extent. There is also an important caveat regarding which education in Lima we are comparing the Andean education to, since as we established in our time in Lima, education in El Agustino is far different than education at La Inmaculada or Roosevelt. This all being said, I would say that the education at Fe y Alegria is most equitable to the education at La Inmaculada, due to the dual language component, relatively high-quality facilities and many excellent teachers, all present in both schools. It is also important to note that these two schools served students from different social classes, but both had Jesuit pedagogy coming into play. Also, I do not think that this judgement can extend to schools across the Andean region, as from what we learned at Fe y Alegria, there is inequity within schools in the Andes, specifically those that are in more remote areas. Those schools have a lack of resources, the most important of which being teachers and social workers to best serve their students. This shows that disparities in education are present everywhere, but also vary depending on context.

Much of the reason for the disparities in education among different communities we have seen in both Peru and the United States is due to segregation. Segregation in schools was ended by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, but as Gloria Ladson-Billings points out in her article, “Landing on the Wrong Note,”this landmark decision caused other issues within schools. Though integration happened, black culture within classrooms and black teachers were lost as integration was forced into white schools. Additionally, overtime schools became segregated again as white families moved out of the cities, and schools once again operated within the bubble of its specific neighborhood. Though segregation is illegal, it still happens, and it was even more obvious in Peru because we came face to face with it. Power also comes into play here when it comes to resources and inequalities because the schools with the people who hold the most power will get the best resources. When this happens, the achievement gap between communities, races or social classes will widen. I noticed this context in Peru when we were in Cusco and the woman at Fe y Alegria was talking about how Quechua culture is not the norm and is therefore often forgotten in areas where it is not practiced. This relates to segregation because the Andean communities are geographically isolated, and it results in the same effect in terms of who gets the most resources and support.

This relates to our shift in mentality of what we are going to do with what we have learned in Peru when we get back to the United States. When thinking of solutions, it is important to consider all contexts and come at things from an asset-based approach, seeing the strengths of every community. When it came to Brown, I do not think an asset-based approach was used because it disregarded both the needs and positives of the African American schools, and they suffered in the long run. Sometimes the easiest or most seemingly obvious solution is not the best one. It requires a lot of forward thinking, time and consideration from all parties involved in order to come up with the best solution to such big issues such as the ones we have discussed this summer. Even after this, solutions will still always need to be reevaluated and tweaked, in order for them to continue working, as populations are always changing. Ultimately, it will take a lot of work to make a dent in the educational disparities that we have seen this month. However, we have a good foundation by considering and having in-depth discussions about these issues and what we can do going forward in our professional lives. This time in Peru has been unforgettable and I am taking so much back home with me, including a greater appreciation for various pedagogies, my own education and Peruvian culture and people.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Tyanna McLaurin

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Tyanna McLaurin, one of our Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate students and the Assistant Director of Service Learning at Marquette!

tyannaI was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. I had the pleasure to going to a variety of schools when I was younger so I’m can adapt quickly to new spaces and I’m unafraid of change (well, somewhat). My favorite educational experience was living overseas as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. While the experience was not part of a “formal education,” it was indeed a life changing time for me. I learned so much about community work. Much of what I learned stays with me today.

I’ve been out of school for a long time, so the start of every semester is exciting. I’m challenging myself to be open to growth and to do my best. I know I got this! I work as the Assistant Director of Service Learning. I love working in higher education and want to continue on this career track. The Student Affairs in Higher Education Program was attractive to me. I like the relationships I can build with faculty and the support of students.

Outside of the classroom, I do so much. I work with Milwaukee Film-Black Lens Program as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Milwaukee has the 9th largest film festival in the country and I get to spread the word within and among my networks about this gem. History, specifically, African/African American History, tends to be my inspiration for my work and passion. I’m never surprised by social unrest or ‘isms that plague American society. This was all foretold through history. I use history to remain knowledgeable and keep going.

Want to learn more about our graduate education programs? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

 

Coming To An End

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Allie Bosley

Buenas noches! I am officially back in the States and able to reflect on my last week of my study abroad trip to Peru. We spent the last week of our trip in Cusco after being in Lima for the first three weeks. We had the opportunity to sit in on classes at a Fe Y Alegria in Andahuaylillas, play with kids at a Ludoteca after school program, and participate in an Andean ritual and visit a sustainable house in Cuyuni.

From the time I got off the plane, to the end of the Andean ritual, I could tell how drastically different Cusco was compared to Lima. Cusco was much more traditional in look and feel compared to the very urban feel of Lima. Men, women and children were dressed in traditional clothing and were more ‘reserved’ in nature. I think there is a strong sense of culture in Cusco and this was really important for me to understand upon traveling here so that I could better comprehend the way of living and especially the way education works. The context that you are going to experience and learn from is very important so having background knowledge is pertinent.

1_vHZ3W4yfMZerk5ffgUXTMQ.jpegThe school that we had the privilege of visiting was called Fe Y Alegria 44! It is a privately funded, public school in Andahuaylillas. This school is bilingual and they speak Spanish and Quechua. Something that I immediately recognized in the school was how lively, colorful and fun all of the classrooms were. They seemed to encourage learning along with the playfulness of being a child which I thought was different from classrooms I saw in Lima where most of the art was based almost solely for learning purposes. Something else that I thought was very encouraging was the way that they approach the use of both languages. In one of the classrooms, the teacher asked them about Quechua, if they know it or not, if anyone in their family speaks it and what they think of the language. These questions were not asked in a demeaning or negative way but rather in an explorative and curious way to get the kids to think about questions they may not have thought much about. From the few days I spend experiencing the Andes education system, I found that their ways of teaching harbored positive thoughts, actions and ideas and while there are a lot of differences between the Andean education system and Lima’s, I think they are equal. They are equal because the kids are learning important skills such as math and science but also skills like healthy coping mechanisms, self-esteem and more. In some ways, I think that the Andean education system may be a step above Lima’s regardless of the material things that some of the schools in Lima have.

In all of these context we talk a lot about flourishing and about being a whole person and how to get to that point. In education one of the most crucial things a student can have is self-determination. In all of the schools that I visited in the past month, there is one thing that didn’t change throughout, and that is the will of these students to succeed in all aspects. You could see through their attentiveness, thoughtfulness and eagerness that they did not take their education for granted. I think that the students and the families of these students know how helpful a solid education can be and how challenging it is to get into the public colleges that are free so they work extra hard to set themselves up for success. Even if there goal is not to continue on to college but to get a job right after, they work incredibly hard to learn the trade skills that they need to get hired. I also think that self-determination in an education system means advocating for themselves and having the self-esteem to do well for themselves.

Throughout this trip we have also talked about power operating within these contexts. In the Fe Y Alegria, power was operating in a very positive way. The students were learning from the teachers and the teachers were learning from the students. Their classrooms were very respectful, safe environments where the students seemed excited to express themselves in whatever medium that might be whether that’s theater class or astronomy. The Spanish language is much more social than English so there is always a little bit of chatter in the classrooms but the teacher never punishes kids for that. They ask them kindly to be quieter but do not make a scene. I think the way these classrooms are run can happy, intelligent children.

When I look back to the schooling that I experienced verse the schooling that I got to look in on in Cusco, I think there’s a lot of similarities. Most of my teachers taught with the same energy as the teachers in Cusco but I also had teachers that did not foster a healthy classroom environment and you could see that in the success of the students. In my future career, I would want to work with teachers to give them tips and tricks to inspire students to do their best and to want to come to school because I think often times if kids don’t feel like their in a welcoming environment then they aren’t going to want to learn.

It’s to believe my month long study abroad trip is truly over but I have learned and experienced so much that I cannot wait to use in my future. Thanks for sticking with me throughout my journey!


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