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TCLP Teachers Gathered in Washington for the 2016 Welcome Orientation

Friday, September 30, 2016

The 10th cohort of exchange teachers prepare to take on roles as educators and cultural ambassadors in their host schools and communities  

What’s your story?

This is the question that the TCLP teachers asked themselves at the start of the 2016 Welcome Orientation this summer in Washington, DC. During the opening session, exchange teachers discussed assumptions about their home countries that they expected to encounter in their U.S. communities. They also discussed the stories they hoped to share with their students, colleagues, and neighbors about China and Egypt during their program year as teachers and cultural ambassadors.

This exercise was based on a pre-session assignment that the incoming educators completed before their arrival in Washington. Exchange teachers listened to a TED talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie about the power of stories, in which she warned that allowing a country to be defined by a single story could result in an incomplete or false picture of an entire culture. Consequently, TCLP teachers take on the dual role of educators and cultural ambassadors as program participants to counter incomplete or false pictures of their own cultures for the goal of mutual understanding.

For many U.S. students, TCLP offers an opportunity to meet someone from China or Egypt for the first time. This experience not only helps students to gain proficiency in important world languages, but also to cultivate an appreciation of other cultures and viewpoints and to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in an increasingly global society.

This knowledge was at the core of the activities in which teachers participated during the intensive nine-day Welcome Orientation. Teachers attended workshops that prepared them to effectively teach and motivate U.S. students, including sessions on Backward Design lesson planning, cooperative and student-centered instructional methods, Multiple Intelligences theory, and American English.

When their mentor teachers joined them in DC for the last two days of the Orientation, the U.S. and international educators worked collaboratively to brainstorm ways to extend their reach within the classroom and beyond through cultural outreach activities and presentations. Last year’s cohort of exchange teachers collectively conducted over 2,000 hours of outreach in schools, universities, senior centers, community centers, and libraries to name a few. They also organized after-school clubs and cultural celebrations, met with political leaders, and were featured in local and national news outlets. We look forward to what this year's cohort, the 10th TCLP cohort, achieves! In addition to preparing to serve as ambassadors for the program and their cultures this year, teachers also considered the stories they knew about the United States. When they reunite after nearly a year of living and working in their U.S. schools and communities, teachers will share how their understanding of America has developed.

Alumni, did your perspective change about American culture, people, or education change as a result of TCLP? Let us know!

Watch Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk here: