Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

WCE Students Travel to Belize, Kuwait, London, Malawi and the Netherlands

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Over the summer, Watson College faculty led international field experiences to Belize, London, Malawi and the Netherlands. This spring, four students visited Kuwait to teach at the American Creative Academy. Participating students experienced classrooms and service learning projects and looked at education through the eyes of a different culture.

Belize – Summer 2017

Seven students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs at the Watson College traveled to Belize with WCE professor and international coordinator Susan Catapano in July. Four of the students worked with the academic summer camp sponsored by the San Pedro Community Library and three traveled to Corozal Town to work with principals from the state schools. This represents ongoing support of the libraries of Belize. Catapano and Brian Brinkley, director of WCE’s Education Laboratory, have been working with the librarians in Belize to provide them with ideas and resources on how to connect with classroom teachers to support literacy learning. Anna Lang, another undergraduate student on the trip, completed a SURCA research project in support of the libraries. She developed a website to provide librarians and classroom teachers with ESL resources.

English is the official language of Belize, but students also had an opportunity to engage with locals who speak Spanish, Creole and some indigenous languages, such as Garifuna.

San Pedro, Belize, became a sister city of Wilmington in 2007. Catapano, professor and director of international programs at the Watson College, has developed a strong partnership and collaboration with educators there that now includes international opportunities for students in Belize and the U.S. through partnerships with Isla Bonita School, the Belize Ministry of Education, San Pedro High School, San Pedro Junior High, Galen University and the University of Belize.

London – Summer 2017

Marsha Carr, interim chair of WCE’s Department of Educational Leadership, led a 10-day trip to London in June dedicated to executive level of educational leadership. Twelve students, enrolled in public school administration and educational leadership graduate programs, participated in the executive leadership internship. Working in groups, the students met with executive-level leaders (the U.S. equivalent of superintendents, directors, district level leaders and school administrators) in several school districts in both Barking (Zone 5) for a highly diverse population of both students and faculty as well as central London (Zone 1), an equally diverse population and socio-economic ranking. Topics included the British political structure, hiring and dismissal, building designs, team management, and national/standardized reporting that align with duties of executive educational leaders in the U.S.

To learn more about executive leader higher education preparation programs, the students visited universities to immerse themselves in the British education system. For students interested in working in London beyond the internship, local agencies provided networking opportunities and at least one student is considering a future position working in the UK. The group found time in the evenings to engage in local culture with trips to Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Circus. A highlight was a day excursion to Paris to tour the French-speaking city and experience the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.

For 2018: The Paris day excursion is built into the trip with no additional cost for students. Efforts are underway to include leadership study in Paris to learn about the educational system in future trips based on student feedback.

Malawi – Summer 2017

WCE associate professor Ann Potts led UNCW’s first field experience to Malawi, Africa in summer 2015, and has returned each year since.  In May, seven students joined Potts and faculty member Liz Barber on a three-week trip focused on leadership, service, teaching and learning.

Prior to the trip the group raised awareness and support for projects, including Destiny Pads for girls, a school feeding program and scholarships for select secondary school students. With support from Watson College faculty, staff and students, they also raised funds needed for food, desks, school supplies and books for students in the Domasi Demonstration School in Malawi. While in Africa, the group visited schools and provided professional development for elementary and middle-grades teachers. Three of the participating students will be presenting at NC-ACTE with the faculty leaders this fall.

Netherlands – Summer 2017

In June, WCE associate professors Amy Garrett Dikkers and Denise Ousley led WCE’s inaugural field experience to the Netherlands, a country recognized as a world leader in providing education to refugee and immigrant children and families. The trip was designed to give UNCW students and in-service educators (teachers, administrators and school district personnel) valuable knowledge and experience to help meet the needs of North Carolina’s growing population of refugee and immigrant students and families, especially high school aged students.

Thirteen WCE students enrolled in undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs participated in the experience. The group toured the Islamic School, visited the Museum for Religious Tolerance and met with refugees, educators and newcomer advocates to learn how to more effectively serve these underserved populations.

Kuwait – Spring 2017

In April, four students traveled to Kuwait to teach at the American Creativity Academy, a private school in Kuwait City, and one has accepted a position at the school. Five Watson College graduates are currently teaching at ACA and a total of 18 WCE graduates have taken positions at the academy in the past. The Kuwait program is coordinated by associate professor Ann Potts.

2017-18 International Opportunities for Students

Students enrolled in WCE’s higher education programs will travel to Ireland in October and a field experience to Ethiopia is planned for December 2017. Trips to Belize, London, Malawi and the Netherlands are planned for summer 2018.

Information sessions on these international opportunities will be held throughout the fall. For details, look for flyers posted in the Education Building or visit the website.