In partnership with the Morgridge International Reading Center at the University of Central Florida’s College of Education and Human Performance, the Florida Reading Association will be collecting and donating materials for students to deliver to teachers in Botswana. Books, school supplies, and wheeled suitcases will be collected at the FRA’s conference September 25-29, 2013 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Donations will be collected at the Morgridge International Reading Center booth located in the exhibit hall.
Ten students from the University of Central Florida will leave for a remote region of Africa so that they can learn firsthand about education and democracy.
Led by Professor Karen Biraimah, director of international and special programs for the UCF College of Education and Human Performance, the trip will enable UCF education students to gain hands-on-experience developing and implementing curriculum. Students will learn about the impact marginalization has on education in Botswana, and they’ll use what they learn abroad to address similar challenges for underserved students in the United States.
“We have to prepare our students to be ready for anything,” said Biraimah. “They will come prepared with several lessons about the United States and our education system that would be adaptable for ages 4 through 14. Hopefully, our students will be able to engage in one-to-one conversations with teachers. We’re coming in to learn, and hopefully we have teaching methods that can help them.”
Biraimah is no stranger to service-learning and teaching abroad. She lived and taught in a village in West Africa for two years, and she’s led trips to Malaysia, Singapore, Peru and Spain. In 2011, she took a group of graduate students and teachers to Botswana to develop curriculum and teach in several villages.
This time, UCF has coordinated with the University of Botswana in Gaborone to create lesson plans specifically for elementary through high school students. Their trip is funded by a three-year U.S. Department of State grant, which will pay for 75 percent of expenses this trip, 50 percent of the costs next year and 25 percent the following year.
To prepare for the three-week program, students have been meeting since January. They’ve read books and articles about Botswana and learned the country’s native language, Setswana.
“If you haven’t been in a country where you don’t speak the language, you’re not ready to teach,” said Biraimah.
In collaboration with the Florida Reading Association, the group will be collecting wheeled suitcases, clothing and school supplies that will be donated to schools when they arrive in Botswana. Each participant also raised $75 to pay the extra baggage fees, since the group will be bringing 13 extra suitcases filled with donations.
After the students return, Biraimah and the students will meet to record their experiences on the U.S. Department of State’s website. They’ll also help prepare the next group of UCF students traveling to Botswana.
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