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Jennifer Shelley

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Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2016
Home Institution: 
Thiel College
Heinz Programming Area: 
Education
Study Abroad Country: 
Thailand
International Experience

Jennifer Shelley volunteered at Changakart Umrong School in the Dusit District in Bangkok, Thailand. She taught English lessons to students of all ages, from kindergarten up to sixth grade. She taught Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3pm. Many of the teachers in this school do not speak English, so the lessons Jennifer taught were very appreciated by the teachers. The first two weeks Jennifer bounced around to different kindergarten classrooms to give basic English lessons. The last two weeks, she was able to teach fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students conversational English. While teaching, Jennifer discovered there is a huge difference in Education between Thailand and The United States. For example, in Thailand the teachers are allowed to physically hit the children for misbehaving. In addition, the students are responsible for their own learning. If they are talking or not paying attention, the teacher ignores them. The method of instruction is also different. In Thailand they rely on workbooks and paper/pencil activities, whereas in US America, teachers learn to teach in a variety of ways to make the learning interesting. Also, the students have an hour at the end of the school day for clubs, activities, and play time. Students must stay at school and interact socially with their peers during this time. In Jennifer's free time at school, she would lesson plan for the next day and talk with the local teachers. She also enjoyed playing with the students during their recess time. During her free time on the weekends, Jennifer explored the city of Bangkok seeing the breathtaking temples and palaces. She also spent time with the teachers she met at school and other locals she met, as they showed her around their city. Jennifer lived with a host family who she grew to love. The meal time with them was a family experience she has never had before, and she enjoyed talking to them about Thailand and Buddhism. Over the course of four weeks, Jennifer was able to learn some basic Thai language and talk to the locals. After arriving home, she misses the Thai culture and people, and still keeps in contact with her family and friends from Thailand, The Land of Smiles.

Community Engagement Experience
CEE Title: 
Please Excuse My First Language

“Please Excuse My First Language,” the CEE at Thiel College on November 30, 2016 was conducted in the form of round table discussions with select guest panelists. The CEE was designed to discuss the existence of language barriers globally, as well as locally—right on our own campus. At the start of the CEE, we introduced our guest panelists: two Korean students, a Russian student, and another American student who had studied abroad for a semester, all who helped facilitate roundtable discussions. We began our CEE with a few rounds of Simon Says in Spanish led by the Spanish Professor (Karlson) here at Thiel. Many students were confused, and only a few had eventually caught on. The idea of this activity was to give students the experience of being immersed in a new language. After the game, we had a discussion where many students responded that they were confused, lost, and that they just simply gave up. This is the exact response we were hoping for. We then went into an explanation that we were going to discuss the language barrier further in round table discussions, using one guest panelist at each table to facilitate discussions. We had four questions that addressed the language barrier, ways to overcome it, other forms of communication, and how to limit the language barrier on our own campus. After each question, we opened it up to the whole group and chose a few volunteers to share their thoughts, then rotated panelists to different tables. The three girls in my cohort also rotated around throughout the discussions to listen and facilitate, as well as give input of their experiences. At the conclusion of roundtable discussions, we displayed a quick PowerPoint to review steps to take in order to overcome the language barrier—patience and having an open mind about another culture—being the most important we chose to talk about. After the presentation, we concluded our event and were welcomed with a round of applause and received many compliments from students and professors about how important our topic was and how impressed they were with the engagement of students.

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