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.
Htamané is held during Tabodwe, the eleventh month of the Burmese calendar. Men collaborate to make sticky rice, which is to be offered first to Buddha and monasteries, and then to family, friends, and neighbors. On February 16, each department from the university competed to produce the most delicious sticky rice. Students and faculty arrived early (about 6 or 6:30 a.m.) to prepare for this annual competition. Unlike the sticky rice found in other Southeast Asian countries, the sticky rice in Burma is made with peanuts, coconuts, sesame seed, ginger, peanut oil, and of course, white rice.
Mingalabar! Greetings from sunny Mawlamyine, Myanmar. It has been about two weeks since I arrived in Mawlamyine. I traveled with members of the Fort Wayne Sister Cities Mawlamyine committee to discuss and conduct our first ESL teacher program. Fort Wayne, Indiana is the first U.S. city to have a Friendship City relationship with a city in Myanmar. [Click here for more info on our Friendship City agreement.]