Rebekah Meahl, M.S. in Conflict Management student, has spent the last 2 months in Bangalore, India working with ACTS Group of Institutions and CIFAL Bangalore to teach English and global perspectives to adolescents and to research sustainable education in an Indian context. In addition, she has worked with ACTS to organize upcoming projects and conferences, develop a conflict resolution training and workshops for employees, as well as, teach the basics of intercultural communication and grant writing. In two months, her work has been nothing short of amazing!
In her first week in India, her adolescent students performed a celebration for the teachers to say thank you. Not only did they include her in their celebration, but they coined her as "Rebekah ma'am is our fountain of knowledge" and gave her a juice glass as a token of their appreciation. Rebekah humbly said in her blog, "I don't feel like a fountain of knowledge. I feel like an over-educated American who is just flitting in and out for a while. Yet I have been treated like an honored guest and I am determined to make a difference in the short time I am here because I have a skill set that I can use, and I can share my knowledge.
With a little creativity, Rebekah taught her students English vocabulary words and definitions so she could use their new vocabulary to teach them about other places around the world, including their cultures, values, and other perspectives. Together, she and her class created tables to compare cultural differences and similarities of 9 different nations. Together, they filled the tables with information from each culture including their food, sports, languages, and descriptive words of the people in each place.
Rebekah wrote about this lesson plan and her experience:
This particular global perspectives lesson has proven to be a most helpful and eye-opening lesson! When having students guess which countries we would learn about, I gave them hints based on region, etc. When I gave the hint that one of the countries was in the Middle East, a student replied "oh, we don't know anything about the Middle East!" So I said "Well, today we'll learn something new!" They were also very fascinated by the fact that of the 9 countries listed, I had personally visited 8 of them(Kenya is the only place on the list I haven't been). The concept of globalized travel and interacting with others from around the world is literally a foreign concept to these students (no pun intended), which makes me so thankful that I can be part of adding some global knowledge to these students' minds! The idea that people are different, cultures may have differences, but that we're all human and should respect each other is something many of these children have never heard!! (Social identity theory, anyone?!?!)
She said in many instances her classes transcend cultures. For instance, when trying to take a picture of her 5th grade class, they couldn't help but take a silly picture.
Something you may not see in other cultures, however, is the school's morning ritual where the entire school stands at attention for 20-30 minutes to sing the state anthem, Indian national anthem, say a pledge about India, hear a word of encouragement from a teacher or staff member, and other announcements.
She spent some time teaching the rainbow song (as seen on her Instagram page: @rebekulus) to focus on English vocabulary, colors, and symbols. In the colors of the rainbow, the color purple was a new concept for some students and they love learning the symbols of the rainbow, such as promises, peace, and beauty.
To wrap up her two-month adventure in Banalore, she will review and finalize her global perspectives lesson and chart and review everything we've learned together over her internship. Her adventure won't stop in India! Before she returns to the states in mid-November, she will travel to Israel/Palestine with her peers for the annual study abroad for MS in Conflict Management students.
To read more about her experiences, see the full blog post here.
Posted: October 23, 2017