by Claire Miller
On one of her many trips to Brazil, College of Education Professor Joyce King visited a professor at the Catholic University of Sao Paolo who had created the country’s first women’s studies program.
King asked the professor how she was able to create such an innovative program while Brazil’s government was operating under a military regime, and her response was simple: “Well, you have to do good work.”
This professor’s answer has stuck with King throughout her academic career, reminding her of the impact educators can have when they work to enhance their students’ educational experiences.
King, along with College of Education Assistant Professor Iman Chahine and Professor Mona Matthews, told this and other stories about their experiences abroad during the college’s International Panel Discussion on Nov. 14.
Throughout the panel, King, Chahine and Matthews discussed the study abroad programs and research projects they’ve completed in South Africa, Brazil and Morocco, highlighting the importance of stepping beyond the borders of Atlanta and the U.S. to immerse their students in other cultures and to conduct research.
Matthews, who is working with College of Education faculty members and teachers in South Africa on an international literacy development project, has seen firsthand how collaborating with researchers in other countries can help faculty develop a deeper understanding of their content areas.
“To sit around a table with people from South Africa and realize we have a common understanding about literacy development allowed us to have a conversation about the process of reading and how that’s constructed, but also what we felt worked well in teaching those skills,” Matthews said.
Following the panel discussion, attendees were invited to a poster session featuring students from Chahine’s ethnomathematics course, who talked about their experiences interacting with artisans and craftspeople in Morocco and how they use mathematical concepts in their work.
Chahine believes her study abroad trips offer students the opportunity to think about mathematics in a culturally-relevant way, and to consider how this perspective on math can be taught in schools.
“Immersing students in these environments stimulates and extends their knowledge beyond the confines of the classroom,” Chahine said.
The panel discussion and poster session, sponsored by the college’s Office of International Programs, were two of many events held at Georgia State University Nov. 12-16 to celebrate International Education Week. For more information about the College of Education’s international work, visit http://education.gsu.edu/international.