Student Assessments – Part 1

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This week in rural Zambia, we are preparing to conduct student assessments at each of the 9 community schools.   The assessments will take place next week, but the timing makes things a little more challenging because next week is also exam week.  Luckily, our Implementation Specialist, Felicia, has been an amazing leader by getting everyone on board and plowing forward in high spirits.

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We will be using the USAID Early Grade Reading (EGRA) and Early Grade Math assessments (EGMA) used around the world to identify specific problem areas in literacy and numeracy. The assessments will be carried out by our dynamic team consisting of the Operations Manager, 2 Teacher Supervisors, the grade 7 teachers,  and the Life Skills and Sexuality teachers. We had 2 days of training at Joel with a bit of last minute exam sorting and checking thrown into the program.

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During the training, Felicia explained the purpose and importance of this endeavor as well as how each of us can benefit from participating. She also emphasized important aspects like making sure students feel comfortable during the assessment to get better outcomes. Everyone had the chance to actually practice administering the assessment on each other and then later to students in Joel before we venture out to other schools next week. The results from that small sample were very helpful. Many students could read fluently in English, but when it came to answering questions about the reading, they had more challenges with the comprehension.  This along with the data from other schools will allow us to set targets for next year and plan accordingly on what specific areas to focus on.

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The team will be divided into 3 smaller groups. What I love is that the role of team leader has been assigned to a grade 7 teacher on each team. Rather than giving the roles to other management staff, they have been given the opportunity to further their own leadership skills. Expectations were set very high on the first day, and I suspect many had doubts and possibly felt overwhelmed at the scope of the project. On day 2 of training the leaders arrived sharply dressed and I noticed that throughout the day they had in fact stepped-up by contributing to discussions and debriefs, and leading logistical planning sessions for next week. Like the teachers, this is also my first experience with EGRA and EMRA, so I’m excited to learn new skills in data collection and data analysis.  I’ll be with a couple of different teams providing support and I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything pans out. I’m certain that challenges will arise, but Felicia has done a great job of instilling in the team confidence and positivity. 

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To Be Continued….

-Monica

Learning How to Speak Technology in Our Classrooms

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Hi, I’m Maha and I joined Impact Network in September of this year to help plan Chefs for Impact and stayed on to help through end of year projects.

Before joining Impact Network I was teaching English as Second Language at a private language school in New York City. My students came to New York from all over the world with the goal of learning or improving their English.

At the school I taught, we had a 30+ section, reserved for students who are at least 30 years old, which allowed teachers to focus on the specific needs of adult learners. Research shows that the older you get, the harder it is to learn a second language; I developed a deep admiration for my students in the 30+ section of the school. They were always extremely dedicated, focused and had a clear understanding of the effort they needed to put into their learning. The school also had an online learning platform, onto which teachers posted their lesson plans, homework and any additional activities, and the students in turn could download/submit homework and do some additional practice using the platform.  What I realized, however, was that some of my older students often had a hard time and reluctance to engaging with the technology, and much preferred it if I gave them the homework and activities in printed form. This was obviously due to the fact that they hadn’t been accustomed to learning using technology and didn’t want to invest time in adopting it on top of their language learning. This didn't put a stop to their studying but definitely didn’t take it to its deepest potential; their learning process was still defined by the more traditional methods of gaining and engaging with new knowledge.

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How does this relate to Impact Network? When I joined Impact, I quickly became passionate about their mission. What drew me to it the most was the fact that the students were not only given access to quality education, but that they were learning the language of technology in parallel with the assigned curriculum. In contrast to my students in New York, who come from affluent backgrounds, Impact Network students in rural Zambia come from poorer families. They, however, will be entering the real world as adults who are not overwhelmed by technology but who see it as a facilitator and are able to engage with it with ease and confidence. Students coming from Impact Network schools will never be hindered by technology.  The education they receive from a very young age will empower them to be people of modern and future times, able to compete on a global scale.

Steve Jobs said: “Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” The team at Impact Network puts faith in its teachers and communities, who do the same with the students, and they are all equipped with the right tools to succeed, be successful and grow into their fullest potential. The technology not only facilitates the learning at Impact Network schools, but also ensures that our students are ready to join the ever-changing technological world of today.

I leave Impact Network this month, fully believing in its mission and the tools that are used in order to drive it forward.  I am proud to have contributed to a team that cares deeply about shaping future generations and I look forward to seeing Impact Network grow and flourish further in the years to come. 

- Maha

Meet Caroline - One of Our Life Skills and Sexuality Teachers

Our intern Monica interviewed one of our teachers.

This week I met with Caroline, a young facilitator of the Life Skills and Sexuality (LSS) course, to learn more about the program, check on its progress, and work together on lesson plans and activities.  The course uses a curriculum titled “Our Future” developed by teachers and pupils in Chipata district with the Zambian ministry of Education, Planned Parenthood Association and Young, Happy, Healthy and Safe. There are two teachers now at Impact Network who travel to several schools throughout the week to deliver lessons to grade 5, 6, and 7 students.

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How long have you been teaching this course?

Since June this year. I used to be a regular teacher at one of the Impact schools but now I just teach LSS.

What is a typical day for you?

I wake up, take a bath, get my bike and ride to school. It takes around 30 minutes. It’s really fun, especially going downhill really fast. It feels like a motorbike. I arrive around 6:30, greet people, and have breakfast-- sometimes juice and a muffin. Then I get ready for work. After the last session, I stay with the teachers and learners until around 4:30 and ride home. I draw water, clean the house, and eat. Then I start text chatting with friends. I have one friend at the school, but the others are all far away.

What are your classes like? How old are the students? What are you teaching this week?

It depends. In some schools the students are adults, in others not yet teenagers. Yesterday at Mnyaula the first session was grade 5, a huge class. But it was pretty fun to associate with different learners. After that was grade 6, which was even more fun. The topic this week is friendship. We did drawing activities and a role play activity in small groups about rejection and inclusion. We talked about good virtues of a real friend, such as kindness and loyalty. They got to analyze which friends are real or fake. Next, in grade 7, the topic was “keeping on our path” and our goals in life. We discussed what our goals are, whether it is a job, children, or family, and the importance of having goals. They helps us to work hard and keep away from things that distract. If you have a goal its easier to avoid bad things and stay focused. They also learned there are things in life we have no control over, but not to make excuses and find another way. For example, if I want to go to school but don’t have any money, I can use a talent or skill to make or raise money for it.

What are some of the students’ goals?

To become doctors, nurses, or to pass grade 7. We talked about setting realistic goals too and the stepping stones to achieve it.

And what about your goals?

I want to become a teacher and get a PhD. Now I am learning a lot of things. I learn how to handle a class and learners, how to make lesson plans. This is a good opportunity. I learn every day, it’s an ongoing thing. I am comfortable with myself now despite not having gone to college.

 What are some of the challenges of teaching and this course in particular?

Well there are challenges, but it just depends how you go about it. There are sensitive topics but we are trained now. I have to prepare beforehand and think about how I might offend someone. If it’s a gender-sensitive topic, I separate boys and girls into groups and talk to them separately. 

What are the highlights of the program? And teaching for you?

One of the positive things is the students are learning to decide their own paths. And they learn about equality. Things are different outside, but in the class, status is put aside and everyone is treated fairly. They learn to be social, friendly, and how to cooperate. Teenagers learn that things happen to them and it’s normal. The females learn how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and girls are becoming more and more educated. About teaching, I like sharing knowledge. I learn different things from learners as well. You have to enjoy it and it won’t seem like hard work. I want to see people I teach grow up to be leaders and feel that I took part in it. I will feel I achieved my goal as a teacher.

 

This interaction was a useful reminder that education is more than just learning subjects. It’s also important that young people are taught how to make good decisions, set goals, and have healthy friendships and relationships.  Most importantly, students have access to accurate information that may prevent them from making a bad decision that could have negative consequences for their lives and futures. 

-Monica

Thanksgiving Thoughts

This week, our Director of Expansion in Zambia – Karly Southworth – has a story from the field. Thanks, Karly!

 

When I chose this week to write this post, I had not remembered Thursday was Thanksgiving in the US. Having lived abroad for so many years, I tend not to keep track of such things. Of course, very few people in Zambia know about this holiday, but it got me thinking about what the holiday means. I don’t mean how it came to be, but the way most Americans experience the holiday today is through gathering with family and friends.

The work we are doing here in Zambia is undoubtedly tied to family.

Recently, a teacher came to me with a concern about the attendance of his pupils. Martin teaches a double session so there are quite a number of pupils regularly attending his classes, though he is genuinely concerned about the ones who are enrolled and not coming. He spoke to some of the parents and explained that their responses were similar, that the child is needed in the field or to tend the animals. Being a parent himself, he wondered how the parents of his pupils could prioritize farming and livestock rearing over education. His school, like most other Impact schools, is in a farming community. Most people experience life in a small radius and produce what they need for survival. Although a child’s achievement is linked to attendance at school, a change in attitude towards education within a family unit is not a simple thing.

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At a community meeting, I attended not long ago, a discussion took place about some parents allowing their first grade aged children to mine for gold rather than attend school. Impact Assistant Hope Zimba spoke about the importance of education and encouraged the parents to send their children to school for the benefit of the child as well as the family’s future. She shared that she is 23, not married and doesn’t have children and there was an audible gasp in the meeting. She countered with this “No, there is nothing wrong with me. I have chosen to hold off on these things and develop myself. I’m still going to school because I want to advance myself further.” Her point was not to say that children should be like her but to say that education is valuable and that it had opened doors for her. It certainly helps that Hope’s mother is an educator and a high value was placed on education for her and her siblings from the very start.

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Every aspect of what we do can be traced to family. At the community meetings that have taken place in the last few months, Impact has communicated that school fees are not necessary for our pupils and this has significantly reduced the financial burden many families face. In the expansion project, each community is different, but we are fortunate to have dedicated teachers who care deeply about the performance of their pupils. They realize the importance of the community and family in education and advocate for attendance and parent involvement. We have received positive feedback from several communities with regards to the commitment of Impact teachers and we hope that they inspire and motivate the teachers that work alongside them to show up consistently and give all they have to offer to the children.

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This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for not having to question my education.

Angelique Kidjo and The Importance of Education

This week our blog is written by Chinelo Nwosu, our Program Manager in the US.

Last week, due to an unexpected sudden change in weather conditions, I decided to take a taxi home from work. As I entered the car, I noticed that the driver, Baba, had a very thick accent that reminded me of my father. This intrigued me, so I began to inquire about his background. In the middle of us exchanging stories, he stopped and told me that I reminded him of a younger version of his favorite artist growing up, Angelique Kidjo. In an effort (failing, might I add) to impress my new friend with my knowledge of all things, I immediately retrieved my phone from my bag to Google, Angelique. As I scour through the search results, I hear Baba brag about her beauty, amazing musical career and her recent Grammy wins, and I’m sold! But what really stood out to me was her love for and commitment to education in Africa and her beliefs regarding its role in a child’s life (and its place in the overall development of Africa).

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Angelique was born in Benin, in what she considered, “a very special family”. She gave her family this specification because of her nonconformist parents. Early on her parents established education as a foundational principle in her upbringing. At an early age, Angelique and her brothers began a band and started earning money. It was at this time that she began to question the importance of education. She did not understand why she must go to school when she was already earning money. As one of ten children, her father made sure that each one of them attended school. This was surprising, not only because they were a one income household, but he was also going up against the cultural customs by insisting that his three girls should and would receive an education. While Angelique wanted to drop out, her father would not hear of it. He defended his position by explaining how education would enable her to understand the broader world. She took these word with her as she matriculated. She now uses her education as a source of empowerment. Employing this confidence to use her platform to lobby on behalf of women in Africa. Angelique’s education has also fueled her passions, she founded the Batonga Foundation, an organization that empowers and educates adolescent girls, and was the impetus for her career in educational advocacy for secondary school-aged girls.

 I’m a big daydreamer and reading about Angelique got my wheels turning. Her story made me think of potential; the potential of all of our students, their potential futures and the potential future of education in Zambia. Think of the possibilities!!

 Indulge me for just a moment: Close your eyes!!! (Well, don't close them because then you won't be able to read, but you get where I'm going.) Now imagine years from now, years after our current 4,000 children have matriculated through primary and secondary school and university. Imagine that these children embody the same fervor for education that Angelique developed all because of our work; our commitment to providing access to a quality education. Years from now we will look back reminiscing on those bright faces and recognize them as the advocates of education, global education champions, and policymakers. I, personally, cannot wait to see that day!

 

“The Power of First” reflecting on a TEDx talk by Tammy Tibbetts

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This week I attended a panel discussion on the Future of Fundraising and one of the panelists was Tammy Tibbetts, the co-founder and CEO of She’s the First, which supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school. 

Tammy is a first-generation college graduate and has given international speeches, including a TEDx talk about being the first and finding your passion.    Tammy discusses being the first at something and explains that it does not matter if you are the first in world history, in your community or in your family.  Either way, she says,  “it takes guts and courage to be the first and to stand up to your critics – especially your own inner critic.   It takes passion and persistence to charge forward and meet your goals.”  Tammy also speaks about generosity, giving back and working with others to help them be a first, “never underestimate your ability to make someone else a first –the first person to support them or believe in their dreams.”

This speech made me think about our students, teachers and staff in Zambia and how many of our students will be the first in their family to go to school or learn to read and write.  For our teachers, it is often the first time they have a stable income and an opportunity to work outside the family farm.  It is only with the support of our network that Impact Network is able to help these students and teachers be “a first.” Additionally, Tammy’s talk made me reflect on the work of Impact Network to be one of the first to bring e-learning and access to quality education in rural Zambia.    Being the first can be challenging, but it can also lead to the biggest rewards.  

Heading into the weekend, I think we should all think about two of Tammy’s favorite questions, “what are you the first to do?” or ”what will you be the first to do?”  Mostly importantly “what will you do to help someone else be a first?”

- Katie 

Humans are Not Rational and the Work of Richard Thaler

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Last month, one of the founders of behavioral economics, Richard Thaler, won the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  You may have heard of Thaler – he’s most well-known for his book Nudge and is a writer for the New York Times.  But he’s contributed immensely to modern economics and his work is often summarized with “Humans are not rational.”

Economics often relies on an underlying assumption that all parties or stakeholders are behaving rationally.  Thaler’s work turned this theory on its head, and more than that – he worked to identify ways to predict that irrationality and improve the future of economics. His landmark paper in 1985 identified ways that people account for money in different – and illogical – ways.  And while this seems somewhat minor, it has big implications for public policy. For example, in Morocco, researchers used this research to look into how cash transfers can influence education.  They investigated the use of a “labelled cash transfer” – a small amount of money given to parents in poor, rural communities, and allocated to education support. Parents were told the money should be spent on their child’s education, but it was given to them regardless of whether their child was enrolled. Researchers found that this little nudge was enough to lead to large gains in school participation, while cash given to parents only if their child attended led to no gains. (read more here: https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/cash-transfers-education-morocco).

Thaler’s work has influenced a lot of different industries – from health care to finance, from for-profit to non-profit, even from the boardroom to the classroom.  But what I like most about it is that it is a rare brand of research that can be implemented in multiple settings without having to be an economist yourself!  For us, it got me thinking – what messaging do we give our students, how do we present the supports we provide to the community, how can we use nudging to improve our teacher practice?  Some things to think about as we head into the weekend…

Asked how he will spend the prize money, he quipped, "I will try to spend it as irrationally as possible!"

Fostering a Culture of Collaboration & Creativity

This week we have a guest post from our Implementation Specialist, Felicia Dahlquist who is currently in Nairobi as her visa is processed and has been meeting with various organizations  – these are some of her reflections on her time there.

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As a teacher I often felt pressure to be creative and thoughtful in my practice. But with the many competing tasks required of teachers (both socially and administratively), it was challenging to come up with new ideas and be truly responsive to my students’ needs. Even when I did have new ideas, I didn’t always know how to implement or prioritize time for them.  I saw how busy other teachers were and perhaps felt too proud to ask them for help and advice. As a teacher you often feel like you should be able to do it all independently and that each challenge faced is on you alone- after all, it is your responsibility to ensure that each student learns what they should. Playing it safe and sticking to what you know therefore often becomes the easiest option. But will that lead to the best outcomes?

In many ways I think that the independent and ‘safe’ mind-set ingrained in teachers also translates into the wider global education sector. Governments, NGOs and private education organisations work independently to solve the big education challenges relating to access, quality and retention in school. Instead of asking each other for help and support, many actors keep their findings and challenges to themselves. This is partly due to the nature of the education funding, which is driven by competition for limited financial resources, causing education actors to rarely join forces or share successes and failures. But I would equally say it is due to pride and the desire to independently solving things, not admitting the challenges and failures.

I recently read an article by the CEO of Results for Development (R4D), Gina Lagomarsino, who talks about how the global education sector has a lot to learn from the global health sector. One of the things she highlights is the importance of ‘bolstering collaborative learning approaches’ for example through peer-to-peer learning and the co-creation of tools and resources. Strong collaboration has been ingrained in the health field for a long time, where health professionals frequently share evidence of good AND bad practice in order to achieve the best health outcomes for their patients. So why not do the same for students?

As I visit Nairobi, I am reminded of the importance of collaboration and learning from what others are doing. The education ‘ecosystem’ in Kenya is rich with a high density of innovative education initiatives. It is hard not to take notice of all the new schools (Bridge, Moringa School, Kidogo, Nova Academies), Edtech projects (BRCK Education, Enenza Education, KyTabu, Arifu and eLimu) and public school transformations that are ongoing. Kenya is ranked as having the highest education quality on the African continent yet still has a long way to go. But there is much to learn from what is happening in Nairobi and from the knowledgeable individuals who are seeking to drive change.

Attending the Metis Fund EdConect event in Nairobi in October, I had the pleasure of meeting educators and change makers from across the education space in Kenya. Metis, an organisation whose main aim is to create communities of practice and co-learning opportunities for individuals/organisations working in education, is one example of how collaboration is having a profound impact on driving quality. The 15 Metis Fellows this year include education professionals who work with girls’ education, education technology, early childhood education, indigenous education and improving government curriculum, among many things. Sharing their ideas and experiences with each other in the fellowship and actors in education more broadly is creating a dynamic atmosphere and pace of wanting to improve learning across the board. Read more about Metis and the inspiring work of their fellows here.

I also had the opportunity to visit a social-enterprise (Tiny Totos) working with early childhood education in Nairobi’s slum areas. Despite the stark contrast between Nairobi’s urban slum communities and rural and remote areas where Impact Network operates in Zambia, I was also struck by the many similarities during my site visit.  With lacking infrastructure, limited access to resources and high rates of illiteracy, parents in both places struggle to find viable options of quality education for their children. Equally so, the practical and logistical challenges are in many ways the same. But the use of technology is providing solutions to many of those challenges.

I was fascinated to learn more about how Tiny Totos have built their own app and trained staff and school mangers in data collection to find efficiencies in their implementation. The app allows the central team to collect information that helps them to detect risks and prevent issues in implementation. The team in Nairobi were equally fascinated by how Impact Network is using student and teacher tablets to provide a well-rounded curriculum and interactive learning for children. It was a wonderful experience to share examples of good practice and discuss how challenges might be tackled. Despite our different contexts and areas of focus, it became clear to me how important an investment in collaborative learning is, in order to prevent re-inventing the wheel and slowing down the search for innovative and impactful solutions.

I am humbled by the reminder that as a teacher, educator or manager of an education initiative we are most certainly not better on our own. I will carry on reflecting over how we at Impact Network can continue to foster a culture of collaboration, creativity and learning among our teachers and colleagues as well as with other organisations.  It is through honest conversations, partnerships and cooperation that we will be able to find even better solutions and creative alternatives for our learners as well as evidence for truly impactful change.    

Meet our Parents: Memory Phiri

This week, I thought I’d bring an old interview with one of the Impact Network parents back to life – meet Memory Phiri! Huge thanks to former intern, Nicky Lama for originally putting this together!

Memory is 25 years old and has 5 daughters, 2 of which are currently studying at Impact Network schools. She is a very lively person who has a good stance on why she needs to educate her daughters. Here is what she had to say:

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How important do you think educating children is, in your case especially daughters?

I think the more education they get , the better it is. Both sons and daughters should get educated but especially in my case since I have 5 daughters, I think education will help them be economically strong when they grow up. They can become doctors and leaders.

Why did you choose to send your children to Impact schools? Do you see any difference when compared to other schools?

Yes! Thereis a lot of difference. Here at impact the teachers are very good and serious with their teaching. The children also get to use machines (tablets) which makes them smarter. It is also easy as it is very close to the village.

Who helps the children with homework at home?

I try to help as much as I can as I have studied till grade 4. Most times they complete it themselves.

Do you think using the tablets are helping the children?

The children love the tablets! Even when they are at home they talk about how they saw different flags, pictures, animals and colours on the tablet. They say the machine also speaks.

What do you think about higher education for your girls, for which they may have to leave the village?

I think my girls should pursue higher education. The only problem is once students reach higher grades we have to start paying school fees which becomes very difficult for us. Even books and uniforms are not cheap, so I fear I will not be able to help all of them.

Is there anything you want to say to the people who are helping us help your children through education?

Yes! I want to thank them for providing these opportunities to our children. I only hope that they can include higher grades so that it becomes less difficult financially for us and our children can reach higher studies.

It’s parents like Memory and students like her children that make our work worthwhile each and every day!  Memory feels very strongly about education and enthusiasm like hers is a huge contributing factor for Impact Network to continue the work we are doing - to help provide better educational opportunities to the children across our schools.

Meet Our Intern in Zambia - Monica Pacanins

Hello! I’m Monica Pacanins. I’m originally from Venezuela but I grew up in a smallish town in Alabama, mostly in the Latin American community centered around the Catholic Church. Due to my multicultural upbringing understanding cultural differences came easily to me later in life. When I got to university and discovered Anthropology, I fell in love. I didn’t know exactly what I would do career-wise, but I had three goals:

1)      To continuously challenge myself as much as possible. To always be growing.

2)      To really understand people, how they live, and how they see the world. To attain the deepest level of empathy possible.

3)      To do whatever I can to make life better, in whatever capacity, for people anywhere - Especially children.

Since graduating in 2012, I have done pretty much that (the first two at least) and often ended up in the field of education. After completing an Indigenous studies course and farm work in Australia and a 5-month self- supported, community service-themed bike tour across the U.S., I was ready to leave the familiarity and comfort of the West.

A community outreach project at a local girls school in Hebron

A community outreach project at a local girls school in Hebron

I taught in northeast China and then made my way through Southeast Asia. Later in Arizona, I worked group foster homes with students who had learning disabilities and taught English in a refugee center. The most difficult, yet most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to live and work in a very conservative, Muslim city in Palestine. I worked in an English center with mostly high school and university students. I was so moved by how welcoming and passionate the students were and how eager they were to learn and practice English. We often had group discussions allowing students to develop and express their thoughts and ideas. I know its cliché, but I really think I learned more from them than they did from me.

A field trip to Bethlehem before Christmas organized entirely by the students for us teachers

A field trip to Bethlehem before Christmas organized entirely by the students for us teachers

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After my most recent job in southwest China, I was pretty comfortable with teaching and ready to challenge myself again. I knew that living somewhere in Africa, specifically in a rural environment, was something I still needed to experience. I also wanted to be doing something productive while learning and developing new skills related to education or development. I came across the Implementation Internship with Impact Network and knew it would be perfect. I knew this was exactly what I wanted and what to expect when I arrived in Zambia, yet I was still pretty shocked. It’s one thing to know about something from pictures and facts, but it’s another thing to see it all as it is and feel it.  The first afternoon/evening here started with a bicycle-taxi ride into the village, I went back and forth between “Wow this is amazing!” and “What have I gotten myself into?” This is definitely the most remote and isolated place I have ever been, which is made more difficult by being the only foreigner here at the moment.  I went to sleep that first night under the mosquito net with church music echoing from nearby and I had tiny, tiny doubts.

The next day I joined Teselia, a Teacher Supervisor, in her observations at the Joel Village School. Within the first few minutes of the first class I knew that I was in the right place. I couldn’t believe that all of this was happening way out here in rural Zambia; that others have worked and are working hard to make this possible, that in a place with so few resources, so many kids are getting a quality primary education, especially one that exposes them to technology and allows them the chance to use it. I attended 5 classes and in all of them teachers had prepared their lessons well from the curriculum using interactive group work and hands-on activities. The students all participated and stayed focused, which is not easy in the heat. They were completing their writing assignments at the end of class with sweat streaming down their faces, and even I was struggling to stay alert.

One of the highlights of the day for me was during a Grade 2 Social Studies class. The topic was Human and Child Rights. After introducing and discussing the topic, the students were put into groups to do role plays. It was all in the local language, so I didn’t know what was being said, but it was acted out and expressed very well, humorously too. The students were all engaged and laughing together. But my favorite thing of all, was seeing how each class had its own way of supporting and providing positive feedback to the students; like a little clap and chant they all do together when a student answers or demonstrates correctly.

I’m looking forward to contributing whatever I can over the next three months. I’m already so inspired by everyone involved in the organization -- the management, the local teachers and supervisors and especially the students. I’m excited to learn as much as I can about this model and the ongoing projects as well as the problems and ways to work creatively with others to solve them. I hope I can use what I’ll be learning in the future and continue to work in education development around the world.