I really enjoy working with the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. They are open to all sorts of new ideas and are always looking for opportunities to deepen the learning experience of their students.
This year, we are going to offer a unique volunteer opportunity for teacher candidates who will be completing their second year at the Faculty of Education.
All students have to complete a three-week volunteer placement before they finish their program. It is up to them to decide what they will do for their placement and students are offered a variety of opportunities to consider at the beginning of their second year.
This year we are offering students a placement in El Salvador where they will be able to learn something about what it is like to work as an educator in the Global South. We have done these kinds of trips in the past for teachers, but what a wonderful opportunity to take part in a trip like this as part of the formative teacher education experience.
We can learn a great deal by talking to teachers in other countries. While the circumstances of teachers in El Salvador can be drastically different from what teachers experience in Canada, there are remarkable similarities as well. Teachers in both countries have to surmount the challenges of working in low-income areas and we all aspire to offer a holistic education for our students to prepare them for the world they will live in.
Having an opportunity to talk with teachers and students from the Global South can add a rich element to the teacher training we provide our teacher candidates with. Learning what it is like to live and struggle in a poor Southern country can add valuable life experience for teacher candidates preparing for a very challenging career.
We will be working with CIS – Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (Center for Exchange and Solidarity) in El Salvador.
CIS aims to strengthen people-to-people solidarity and contribute to the construction of a new El Salvador. They have a great deal of experience working with delegations from the United States and Canada. They have put together a program that will be presented to students in September. Here are some of the highlights:
- Learn about the history of the El Salvador, and the root causes of war, migration and violence.
- Exchange ideas about the educational system and teaching methodology in El Salvador and Canada with Salvadoran teachers and students of education.
- Promote a culture of solidarity, of mutual support and global connections for social and economic justice.
- Testimony – History of the War and El Salvador.
- Hike ecological forest which was a guerrilla encampment during the war in Cinquera Cabañas. Learn about History and the Environment.
- Visit site of Guadalupe and Tenango massacre in the Department of Cuscatlán-Cabañas and learn how survivors have overcome
- Visit public school and exchange with students and teachers
- Exchange with CIS scholarship students studying education
- Visit historical sites in San Salvador: The home of Oscar Romero’s home and the chapel where he gave his life
- Visit the Jesuit University and site where 6 Priests and 2 women workers were massacred in 1989.
- Stay in a rural community: visit homes, visit a school, do some exchanges with the community and /or school teachers; meet with women’s businesses, make tortillas.
- Stay in Urban Community: Meet with teachers about special challenges of gangs in schools; understand the displacement of communities during the war and earthquakes and shanty town settlements; exchange with CIS art therapy course, and human rights committee.
- Workshops: Participants will be asked to develop a workshop or a series of workshops on one theme to share in the community depending on their skill set and interest – Some examples, that the community request include education methodology, different arts, marketing, computers, English, gender, human rights, environment, culture of peace, communication, environment.
- Indigo – history, culture, cultivation and processing of dye and dying clothes by women’s groups.
- Exchange with CIS English and Spanish Teachers and popular education and language instruction.
- Spanish classes are available online or at CIS in El Salvador. www.cis-elsalvador.org.
For the sake of brevity, I have only included some of the objectives and activities that could be included as part of the three-week program.
This is a very rich and varied schedule and I know that teacher candidates taking part in this trip will learn lots.
Now it is really up to the students to decide if they will make this their volunteer option for 2018. I hope some of them do, it promises to be a rich learning experience.