The Study of the U.S. Institutes for Secondary Educators offered me a chance to engage and collaborate with a multinational group of experienced secondary educators (administrators, curriculum developers, education ministry officials, teachers, teacher trainers, and textbook writers) on a deeper understanding of U.S. society, education, culture, values, and institutions.
From the 6th of June to the 12th of July 2018 and for five weeks, I attended, participated and studied in a program organized by the California State University of Chico, fostering a better understanding of the American people, culture, diversity, institutions and educational system, together with teachers, trainers, principals and scholars from 20 different countries. The five-week professional development training program was themed “Liberty, Equality and the American Dream” with a focus on “Exploring Access and Equity in U.S. Education and Society.”
We worked collaboratively, concentrated and acted towards the exploration of the diverse culture of the United States as well as the innovative and tailored to specified needs educational structure of the U.S., through our visits to different States, schools and institutions. Thus, in Chico, we visited the Fair View High School, the Chico Unified School District Board and the Ability First Sports Camp. Moreover, in Sacramento, we had our site visit to the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center for a Summer Teacher Institute in order to participate with state-wide teachers in learning about the political system using a discrimination case as an example. Furthermore, the CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing & CA Teacher Association. We concluded our stay in Sacramento with a visit to the California State Capitol and had a meeting with Senator Bill Dodd. Moreover, we visited San Francisco and experienced the Youth Development Site in the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, a summer school full of innovative and interesting teaching, learning and inclusion practices. Furthermore, we enriched our knowledge and educational experiences through our visits to remarkable schools in Chicago-Illinois such as the Amundsen High School and the Sullivan High School. Also, in Chicago-Illinois, we enhanced our understandings on tertiary education through our visit and lecture attendance at the the University of Loyola. Also, in Chicago-Illinois, we visited certain Institutions such as the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Sciences and the Community Schools Initiative of Chicago Public Schools. We concluded the program with a visit to Washington D.C., were we visited the U.S. Department of Education and the Youth Service America organization as well as Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office.
Our visits to the different educational and academic institutions offered a balance between academic and experiential learning though the program, as well as opportunities to engage with American peers, community service institutions and research approaches on the US and international educational system.
During the program, and together with two other colleagues, Kamola from Uzbekistan and Simon from South Sudan, I have conducted and presented a research on the issue of Service Learning. Through my involvement in the research process I gained knowledge and insight on the issue as well as new ideas and perspectives via my collaboration with my colleagues, Kamola and Simon.
My involvement in the five-week program, the visits to the schools and the institutions, the lectures as well as my collaboration and co-existence with peers from all over the world, was a life and professional changing experience, which offered a deep and clear knowledge and understanding of the United States’ and other countries educational system as well as developed a greater and enriching perceptive of the culture values, and institutions of the country. Consequently, the participation and study of this program created a fertile ground for the cultivation of new collaborations and the emergence of new and innovative ideas on teaching and learning for future integration into the educational system of Greece.