Sara Byler

International Experience Country:
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Home Institution:

Waynesburg University

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International Experience Summary:

Sara Byler had the unique privilege to spend two months in Meknes, Morocco studying the Moroccan culture and society as well as participating in service learning. The first four weeks were spent studying Arabic and the Moroccan political system as well as taking in the beauty all around Morocco. The next four weeks, Sara had the privilege of working at an organization called Ibtissama. This center was located in a secluded part of the city. Their mission was to give the women and children the skills needed to obtain jobs and to secure their own independence. Along with five other women, Sara helped run a summer school for the children of the community. Out of the 70 kids in the program Sara taught a social learning/English class to students ages 1-8 years old. Everyday Sara planned lessons and taught through sensory and developmental play. Through this experience, Sara was able to observe the daily life of mothers and children in Morocco. She had the honor of working and laughing with the women as she showed them what a free educated woman can do. Sara was also impacted by living and learning alongside of 30+ preschoolers. Sara and her team worked on teaching the students how to communicate, share, express emotions, and so much more. Sara observed that during the four weeks she spent there with her team the number of physical altercations between her students diminished drastically. Sharing, laughing and their level of curiosity increased in a healthy manner and helped them learn how to interact with each other. This was all because we took the time to give them individual care. In the last few weeks Sara’s team worked to share what they had learned with the mothers and employees of the organization. They trained the teachers and mothers how to respond to a physical altercation, how to discipline without physically hurting the child, and how to communicate with the children in a healthy way. Sara also experienced the Moroccan culture first-hand through living with a host family, riding the grand taxis every day, and traveling all over Morocco including visiting the capital Rabat and the Sahara Desert. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Myth Busters: Cracking the Cultural Code

Our CEE was entitled Myth Busters: Cracking the Cultural Code. The mission of our CEE was to break the popular myths pertaining to the countries we traveled to and replace the lies with the beauty of the truth. We wanted to show the participants how negative stereotypes take away from truly appreciating the true culture of the country. We also strived to educate participants on how the problems we shame other countries for, are also so prevalent in our very own communities. The purpose of doing this was to show the humanity in all of us and how we can work together in order to prevent and fix the flaws of our communities. Our event was in the format of 5 different workshops, each one pertaining to our individual country and our experience related to the myth. Each workshop used their own techniques and activities to involve the participants and get them interested in learning more about the different cultures as well as ab out ways to get involved in their own communities. At the end we had different cookies, biscuits, and drinks from our respective countries.