Education seniors student-teach a world away

Rebecca Bolus, Assistant Life Editor

Student teachers from Wilkes, along with Associate Professor of Education Gina Morrison recently returned Malaysia from a seven week trip to teach international students.

Morrison, who started this program, is very familiar with the country of Malaysia.

“Last year I went on sabbatical and I went to the University of Technology in Malaysia,” Morrison said.

While she was there, she did research on women and engineering and got to know the people on campus, who invited her back for a year.

Morrison did not have schooling for her daughter because there were no more funds being released for visiting professor’s children at that time. So, she found the Sri Utama International School and enrolled her there.

“It was the least expensive international school around,” said Morrison.

Because Morrison does teacher training here in the United States, Dato Fawlzia, the woman who runs the school in Malaysia, offered to bring over Morrison’s student teachers to teach her students. Dato Fawlzia paid for their airfares and accommodations, as well.

“That’s how much they want American techniques in their schools,” said Morrison.

Morrison got permission from the state and from the department for the student teachers to do half of their residency in Malaysia and the other half in Pennsylvania. Through a selection process six students were chosen to embark on the journey to Malaysia.

Although this trip was full of work, the students also had the opportunity to experience the country.  They attended Thaipusam, a Hindu festival popular in Malaysia, and they spent a weekend on the beach at the Qimi Resort in Paulau Kapas.

Another opportunity during the trip was that Morrison, along with her six student teachers, got to partake in an international presentation in Singapore.

Overall, this trip expressed a positive learning experience.

“I can’t wait to go back some day.  The people in Malaysia are so friendly and the students were so eager to learn and to get know us,” said senior elementary education major Katie Shedden, one of the six student teachers that went on the trip.

Morrison, who teaches diversity in her education courses, got to see first hand her students embrace the diversity in Malaysia.  Students at this school were from all over the world, so diversity is an everyday aspect of their society.

“It was nice to watch my students take their skills, transplant them there, and see the wonderful reaction that they got,” said Morrison.  “What they learned is that kids are kids and people are people.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your first language is, or what your religion is, we’re going to react in a positive way and we’re going to make learning fun.”

See the Malaysia blog here