My Life as a Guest Lecturer

As a Peace Corps Volunteer I have a unique opportunity to represent and share aspects of the United States. In fact, the second goal of the Peace Corps is, “To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.”

Embracing the second goal, I’ve had several opportunities to teach subjects other than English as a guest lecturer, emphasizing different parts of my culture. This has been fulfilling because I can use my experience in teaching and public speaking to reach more students and colleagues. During the past year I’ve given lectures in three different subjects.

Drawing from my work experience in non-profits, homeless shelters, and connecting families experiencing homelessness to housing resources, I gave a lecture on the basics of social work to social work majors. Study and practice of social work is something new in China, so I was able to share perspective on what it’s like in the United States.

Then, utilizing connections to primary school educators in the United States, I gave an introduction to the US education system with specific information and stories from two different elementary schools. I presented that lecture twice–once to fellow English teachers at my college, and again to primary school teachers during a training this past summer.

Most recently, I gave a lecture to sociology majors. The same teacher who invited to teach on social work asked me this semester to teach a chapter from the sociology textbook.  I was surprised to find out this class uses a sociology textbook from the USA that has a Chinese translation. He sent me the English copy and told me I could choose any chapter I wanted. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to engage with students about a challenging subject, I chose to teach the chapter about “Sexuality and Society.” I taught a lot of what was in the chapter, but also incorporated specifics about sexuality and culture in the United States.

All of the presentations were well received, and I answered a lot of good questions. Being able to speak about these subjects and sharing culture have been among the more rewarding aspects of my service thus far.

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Lecture in sociology: Sexuality and Society
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The presentation on Education in the USA to my English Department colleagues.

A Visit to the Public School

Last week I was teaching at Nommensen University again. I didn’t go there in August because they were on semester break, and I was in Balige teaching the intensive English course. Now that the university is back in session, I’ll be going there every month again.

In addition to teaching in the English classes at the university, I had the opportunity to visit a junior high school and enter a 7th grade class. The university students in the English department are studying to be teachers, and a practicum in teaching is a part of their degree. So, I was invited into a class with one of the students.

The young boys and girls were delighted to have a visitor. They asked me questions, I listened as they worked on their reading skills, and then I taught them 2 songs: BINGO and “If you’re happy and you know it”.

Of course the other students at the school were curious about me…For me, it was all a bit chaotic…I greeted many of them with a handshake as they came out of their classrooms. Some of them shyly introduced themselves to me.

Here are some photos from my visit:

Visiting a 7th grade class – Pematangsiantar, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Visiting a 7th grade class – Pematangsiantar, North Sumatra, Indonesia