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Dr. Tim Shea – Kenya

I used to live abroad and so I know how much those experiences revolutionized my thinking about the world. I want that to be the same for my students. Currently, I am on a leave of absence from teaching at MU so that I can teach abroad again and introduce my own kids to the thrill of learning in a new culture. As a teacher educator, I hope this experience will shape me in new ways as I am experiencing what my teachers in training will be.

So far, I have directed the Middle School play, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, have chaperoned 6th grade students on a three-day service/cultural learning trip to Lake Nakuru, and started a men’s book club, a middle school Philosopher’s Club, and a men’s Bible study. This is on top of teaching middle school Social Studies and high school English.

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I have learned to see time in a new way. Time goes at a different pace here in Africa and I am learning patience when events do not start on time and getting almost anything done here takes longer than I am used to. I have also been learning the different ways my students from different cultures learn, what they value, and how they relate to each other. It’s amazing how different it can be and how important it is to laugh at myself when I don’t quite get it right.

Global education is important because it helps remove one’s misconceptions of different cultures and teaches one to be more flexible and forgiving when your ideas of what is the right way to do things is upended. It’s a valuable way to have a deeper understanding of the world.  Any faculty or staff should consider getting involved with Global Education as it helps to dust off the cobwebs of their teaching and can even invigorate it! They and their students will never be the same again after these kinds of international experiences.

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I hope more MU faculty and students will take the plunge to learn and to teach abroad, especially in more challenging locations as it could be a vital part of their growth and development as individuals. I especially encourage teachers to go for an extended time with their families. I will find it hard to leave Kenya as my children are thriving in ways I did not imagine would be possible.