It’s the fourth day of our virtual academic sessions today and we feel that we’ve started immersing ourselves in different aspects of the American society and culture. It has been a unique experience sharing interests, talents, skills, our pride in our identity and our willingness to participate in a global community of inspired and enthusiastic educators. The engrossing lectures mingling with the thought-provoking comments of our fascinating team spur our interest, making each academic session a unique experience and something to wait for. Studying the American culture and getting an insider’s glimpse with the help of the experts, along with our diversity and various perspectives, can lead to more profound knowledge, understanding and cooperation despite our different cultures and backgrounds.
The first four days seemed like the opening of a window to America, offering us meaningful knowledge and a stimulating overview of the foundation of the US system of Democracy. On Monday Bruce Laurie gave us a very succinct overview of the liberal, conservative and populist period and what triggered them while a wonderful idea on how to teach historical texts through poetry was presented to us on Tuesday by Dr. Coffin. Wednesday started with the motivating activities that Michael and Sumera prepared for us. We also had the chance to attend an enlightening presentation by Dr Hameed on the diverse mosaic of Islam in the US, in the past and now. On Thursday, Barbara Madeloni, a former Labour Educator and Organizer, shared with us what it means to be an American Educator and to lead the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association. During the Zoom session, the chatbox was loaded with interesting exchanges among teachers and we could appreciate that although our education systems are different, we all strive for an ideal one.
“Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected.” In line with Oscar Wilde’s idea, along these past days we started to discover America once again. Equipped with our own viewpoints and ideas on the land of the free and the home of the brave, we set out on a journey that already surpassed our expectations. By means of different lectures and exchanges, we, teachers from different parts of the world, are working collaboratively to enhance our teaching practices.
One may think that the ultimate goal is to apply in our own classrooms the insights that we will gain in this course, but we just realized that this experience is far more enriching than we could ever envision. And the fact that this discussion allows all views to be openly heard and expressed without any hidden facts or truths is the most unexpected surprise of all to us and fills us with even more enthusiasm and gratitude for future enlightening discoveries relating to modern U.S institutions and what has shaped and still shapes them. And along come our contributions and exchanges enhancing these perspectives and their multifaceted nature. Different countries, different perspectives and cultures…
We look forward to the next sessions, social hours and windows but mostly we look forward to meeting you all in person some time in the future.
Lucia C. Comastri, Elissavet Pramateftaki, Christina Stavraki
All opinions expressed by the program participants are their own and do not represent nor reflect official views from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, or of the Institute for Training and Development, Inc.