Learning from Partners

One of my greatest research resources has been my coteacher in my Bosnian classroom – the students from the University of Sarajevo. Our relationship with our co-teachers has had its share of communication issues, but we see them every day and have a fun working relationship as well as friendship. We have so much fun with our co-teachers that sometimes it is hard to concentrate on work together – and also, with the culture more focused on human interaction than work, the co-teachers are rarely the ones to initiate the planning. From these relationships I am learning more about how Bosnian education culture is different than the United States. Even seeing their struggles with their college professors makes me reflect differently on my own interactions and experiences at college that I have left unexamined. I take for granted the good and the bad because I forget there may be other ways. Working with the co-teachers has been an eye-opening experience into the different styles of education in the world and how this can have ripple effects on the workforce, the social and political attitudes, etc.

Additionally, the co-teacher relationship has been especially important in ensuring the continuation of the Bosnia Project. In order for our project to succeed in the future, we will need to continue our relationship with our Bosnian co-teachers so that it can continue to be promoted on this side of the community engagement process. I think where many service-learning experiences fail is when they ignore the other side of the equation – empowering others to help the community they have left. I think by finding dedicated individuals like our co-teachers to continue promoting the values of the project year-round, as we will continue to do on our campus, we can become a stronger service organization.

I have compiled a list of questions for my Bosnian partners to explore how their education and training to become teachers has incorporated values of NVC. From our work at the summer camp, we have together built strategies in our classsrooms that build communication, and allow students an out let to express their feelings and interests in a new medium (through English and through film). This is where the project can make a double impact – on both the students and the Bosnian teachers (not to mention the William and Mary student experience). Bosnian teachers in training receive little pratical experience. The results of the interviews will how what the teachers learned from the experience compared to their in-classroom training at the University regarding teaching strategies and NVC values.

Comments

  1. dmhardbower says:

    Anna,

    I love how this experience has made you appreciate the working relationships we can have with our own professors here in the US. I also find myself taking for granted the opportunities to interact with my professors on such a personal level. Reading your blog has made me really appreciate the educational opportunities I have here in the United States!

    Dana