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Teaching Internships Aiding Communities

Twenty-year-old Shepard Daniel, an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is on her way to Ghana with a suitcase full of books. She taught English and spearheaded the construction of a community library last year in the small Ghanaian village of Abeyee.

“I want to visit my host family,” she explains, “and I want to bring some more books and see if the library is running smoothly.”

Daniel is one of approximately 400 young adults who have participated in the Global Routes Teaching Internship Program (TIP) since 1986. (An additional 5,000 high school students have participated in their summer community service programs.)

TIP offers 7-to 12-week teaching placements for gap year and college students in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Thailand, Kenya, Ghana, and—beginning this year—India.

After arriving in the host country, each group of six to 12 interns participates in a 1-week orientation to prepare them for a smooth transition into their community. The country director and local staff facilitate workshops on language, the educational system, lesson planning, and classroom management. They also cover practical skills such as shopping at the local market, adjusting to the climate, maintaining health, and maximizing safety.

Interns are generally assigned two to a village and meet on the weekends to share trials, tribulations, questions, and lesson plans. Throughout the program, the director makes regular visits to check in and troubleshoot problems.

Jane Goldstone, Director of Global Routes, notes that her staff works in conjunction with local communities to determine appropriate teaching positions and secondary projects.

“The community gets involved and invested,” she explains. “They’re sharing their expertise and taking ownership, all while working—literally—side by side with interns.”

At the end of the program, interns gather together again for a week of travel and preparation for return to the U.S.

Goldstone says, “The TIP program often moves students towards certain academic or professional choices. Many of them go on to pursue education, public health, and development work; they often undertake international positions, like Peace Corps.”

Shepard Daniel explains that while she has always been interested in service work, interning in Ghana helped her find her niche. Now pursuing her degree in international studies with a concentration in political science, she says, “It wasn’t like a lightning bolt realization, but I think that as you travel more you begin to care more about the people you meet, and that guides you in what you do with your life.”

In addition to the Teaching Internship Program for gap year and college students, Global Routes also runs programs for high schoolers. High school students work in teams of 14 to 18 on small-scale development projects such as building health centers, schools, latrines, and fixing water systems.

For more information about Global Routes, contact: mail@globalroutes.org, www.globalroutes.org.

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