12/12/2013 5:20:28 AM
Teach on the Beach
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
By Lexi Palma '13
First-Year Seminar professor John Harden, Esq. and a dedicated group of students have made Siena the first four year college to partner with the non-profit organization Teach on the Beach. The program provides education, monetary support and international student interaction to a small group of children and young adults from the West African nation of Ghana.
“The group of kids range from the age of 7 to 19 years-old,” said student-leader Tara Crisafulli ’15. “Being a part of this program has a mandatory requirement. This is that all of the children sit down and watch an hour of news every night. After doing so, they Skype with high-schools around the world and discuss the events. This activity builds a lasting relationship between those involved, along with opening their minds to other viewpoints.”
Siena students held a five-hour Skype session with Teach on the Beach students last month. “As part of my First-Year Seminar class, and in keeping with First-Year Seminar’s spring themes of diversity and social justice, I decided to partner with Teach on the Beach,” Harden said. “As part of the interaction, we sent them copies of a novel that my Siena students read during the fall semester. The novel, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, provided a great means of encouraging reading and critical thinking among both groups of students. In addition, both groups of students watched a news program and then discussed current events.”
The Siena students found it interesting to Skype with their counterparts from Ghana."It was inspiring to see how my classmates were reacting to the conversation,” Crisafulli ’15 said. “You could tell that both sides were eager to inject their opinion, and see what the other thought of it. As the conversation grew, my classmates became more involved. Some started to even lean forward in their chairs, as if the further they leaned they would somehow end up sitting right next to the students from other side of the computer. Seeing as this session was so successful, we plan on expanding off of this News Hour activity and continuing our relationship with Teach on The Beach.”
Professor Harden was also happy with the results of the partnership. “I believe this type of interaction fosters two main goals,” Harden said, “First, it provides an opportunity for Siena students to come to a greater understanding of diversity in the global community. Secondly, it provides an opportunity to have international discussions steeped in the traditions of critical thinking and writing.”
Funding was provided by the Damietta Cross Cultural Center as part of the Cross Cultural Solidarity Grant and by the Office of Academic Community Engagement. The program ties directly into the first plank of Siena College's new Strategic Plan: Living Our Tradition, which emphasizes the importance of high-impact educational practices, espeically among first-year students.
For more information on this program, visit the Teach on the Beach website, www.teachonthebeach.org
Contact: Ken Jubie
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