BOONE — Appalachian State University has received a $124,782 grant from the U.S. Department of State through the International Institute of the USDA Graduate School to conduct a six-week training program for Pakistani secondary-level biology teachers. The training will take place in Boone from July 13 to Aug. 25.
The training project will help develop the science and educational technology skills and strengthen the English proficiency of 15 teachers from Pakistan.
The project will be directed by Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development. “Strengthening education in Pakistan and broadening the mutual understanding between Americans and Pakistanis is the main goal of the United States – Pakistan cooperation on education,” he said.
Appalachian faculty members assisting with the project are Dr. Beverly Moser (English as a Second Language), John T. Spagnolo (interactive educational technology) and Dr. Linda McAlister (internships with Watauga County Schools).
Department of Biology faculty providing training are Dr. Pradeep Dass, Dr. Gary Walker, Dr. John Walker, Dr. Steve Dyche, Dr. Michael Windelspecht and Dr. Zach Murrell.
The teachers will spend four weeks in intensive training in biology, science teaching methodology and educational technology.
“The Pakistan project offers a rare opportunity for the Appalachian educational community to interact with and learn from educators from the Indian subcontinent,” said Dass. “It will be mutually beneficial in that it will provide as much professional enrichment to the Appalachian biology faculty as it will provide rich learning experience for the Pakistani teachers.”
They also will attend English as a Second Language classes. “Our Pakistani guests will enrich a summer institute offered on campus in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures by interacting with graduate students and in-service teachers taking summer courses on how to teach English as a Second Language,” Moser said. “I’m very excited to have the Pakistanis on campus for the many chances we will have to learn from each other, and to come to know a culture that is quite different from our own.”
When their on-campus training is complete, the Pakistani teachers will participate in a two-week internship. They will shadow school teachers at pre-school year meetings, interact with members of the local school board and parent-teacher-organizations, and team-teach with science teachers in Watauga County once the school year begins Aug. 9.
“It will be fantastic for our teachers to have amongst them other members of the professional community from another country,” said Angela Quick, principal at Watauga High School, which is one of the schools hosting the Pakistani teachers. “It will lead to great discussions and lessons learned for the teachers about the differences between the U.S. and Pakistani education systems.”
Quick adds that the experience, “will add to multicultural understanding for our students to see another person from another country in the classroom working with their biology teacher. This will open the doors for dialogue and discussion about other countries and the educational process as a whole. This will make our campus one step closer to becoming a campus that embraces other cultures and educational opportunities.”
Blowing Rock School also will host the teachers. “The visit by the Pakistani teachers will enable students to experience another culture which before seemed distant and irrelevant to their lives,” says Wendy Smith, a science teacher at Blowing Rock Elementary School.
“Students will realize that despite our different religions, culture, appearance and location on the planet, people in all parts of the world are connected and share many common concerns and dreams for their lives, loved ones and society.”
Social and cultural activities will be an important part of the program. These activities will allow the Pakistani teachers to experience America, and will facilitate the establishment and strengthening of mutual understanding as well as a long-term relationship between them and the Americans.
Opportunities will also be arranged for participants to share information about the history, education system, and socioeconomic characteristics and culture of Pakistan at the local schools where they will be placed for internships.
Appalachian, in collaboration with Watauga County Schools, will organize a conference where the Pakistani teachers will have the opportunity to share information and interact with a broad spectrum of teachers from area schools on subjects other than science.
“I am pleased that Appalachian was selected to implement this training project,” Lutabingwa said. “Appalachian’s selection is a recognition and confirmation by federal agencies that the university has many strengths in the international education and development field.”
For more information, contact Lutabingwa in the Office of International Education and Development at 828-262-2046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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