It’s hard to believe it’s been over a week since we got back from Japan. It feels like a lifetime ago. I think I’ve experienced just as much culture shock returning home as I did going to Japan. I’m still a little surprised when I walk in the grocery store and I can actually read all the packaging or when I get in the car and the steering wheel is on the left side. I crave the all the delicious foods I got to try, but most of all, I miss spending time with my host family and all the friends I made.
Going to Japan was easily one of the most amazing experiences in my life. During the first nine days, we were able to tour different parts of Japan including Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto, and Nara. It was interesting to be able to experience both the traditional and modern aspects of Japanese culture and to see how they are both so clearly apparent in the Japanese lifestyle. While in Tokyo, we saw the majesty of Old Japan as we visited Meiji Shrine and the Imperial Palace. We also saw cutting edge robotics at the Honda showroom and the neon lights of Shinjuku. It was beautiful to see the new and old so seamlessly intertwined.
Today I sit on my hotel bed and think of the past few weeks and how they changed my life.
I leave Germany today, but not for good. I will return someday to see all the people I am leaving behind and all the memories. Within the next year some of the friends I have made will be coming to Fort Wayne and I will get to see them then. I am beyond excited to be able to show them my world as they showed me theirs. To be able to share this bond with them is amazing and this whole opportunity has changed my life. Continue reading “Final Reflections from Germany”→
It’s been four days since I arrived in Germany and time has been going so fast. I have been doing a lot of things, experiencing a lot of new foods, and meeting a lot of people.
My host family is really great and super funny! They are always making sure I am okay with everything, that I am fed, that I have snacks for the day, and most importantly, that I am awake on time. Continue reading “First days in Germany”→
Tomorrow is when my adventure begins. Three planes and a train will get me to my new family who will take me under their wings for 3 weeks. Talking to them for the past few days have been full of excitement, wondering when they were going to reply back, the time difference, and realizing that they would never reply back that day because they were sleeping. Seeing all the pictures of their family and my host sister’s friends have kept my phone glued by my side.
It’s strange to be moving so quickly toward something I’ve hoped so long for. It’s hard to believe that in a couple days we will be on our way to Japan. Anticipation has taken hold of me to the point that all I can think of is preparation for our trip. The past few days have been devoted to packing and brushing up on important Japanese phrases. As I stare at my stuffed suitcase, it’s starting to sink in that we’re actually leaving. I’m so excited it feels like a dream, and I’m not sure I’ll be fully convinced until I’m sitting in an airline seat. Being able to visit Japan is more than I could have ever dreamed for and I can’t wait! Continue reading “Countdown until our trip to Takaoka, Japan”→
In a few days, students from Fort Wayne and board member Lorrie Freiburger will be traveling to Gera, Germany. Feel their excitement and see how they are getting ready for their trip, which will be the first international trip for some of them:
My time in Mawlamyine has been very valuable for me as a young educator. I’m always learning something new about the teaching and learning process and the strengths and weaknesses in my teaching. Some people have asked, since I had a chance to work with a very diverse group of students (and teachers), how did I approach my classes? After all, it is not easy to teach when there is linguistic and cultural diversity in the classroom. Although this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, these are typical components of my classes:
As exam week slowly came to an end, I sat down with the three Mawlamyine exchange students who visited Fort Wayne and four of my students from the postgrad/ honors class for a conversation on their life as a university student and as a citizen of Mawlamyine. I hope this excerpt from our delightful and thought-provoking dialogue will give citizens of Fort Wayne a glimpse into the lives of young people in our Friendship City:
February and March have been very busy months for Fort Wayne Sister Cities, IPFW, and Mawlamyine University. Just as how this is the first time that Fort Wayne Sister Cities is conducting an English language teacher program, this is also the first time that Fort Wayne Sister Cities and IPFW are conducting a student exchange program with Mawlamyine University. Five students and one professor from Mawlamyine University spent three weeks in Fort Wayne in February. For the first two weeks of March, three IPFW students, Meghan, Htaik, and Yin, 2 professors, Dr. Chad Thompson and Dr. Hao Sun, and award-winning author Ms. Helen Frost visited Mawlamyine. At the heart of all of our travels are warm conversations and deep appreciation for the hospitality and care that we received from Mawlamyine University.
During my graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn GSE), I examined the relationship between teacher-centered and learner-centered pedagogy in Southeast Asia. This topic has always interested me because I grew up in the Philippines where ‘teacher-centered’ pedagogy was more common. Then when I moved to the U.S., I experienced more ‘learner-centered’ approaches. At that time, the different teaching methods and teacher-student dynamics baffled me. Over the years, however, I’ve grown to appreciate the spectrum of teaching philosophies, principles, and approaches. What I love about my time at Mawlamyine University is the fact that I am able to use all of what I have learned and experienced so far and engage with the interplay between theory and practice.