This summer I will be working with the Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp located in Hinche, Haiti. This organization’s primary mission is to serve underprivileged youth that do not have access to comprehensive education and positive leadership. One of the ways this organization achieves its mission is by strengthening their students’ academic skills in courses such as Engineering, Math and Literacy/English. Coming into this position, I felt relatively comfortable as I have worked with educators during my last internship as a teaching fellow. Nonetheless, I was eager to gain new ideas and skills to strengthen my curriculum for my camp class.
I am now forming a literacy curriculum that will be critiqued by the Boston Public School English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer teachers. In this pre-departure section of my internship, I am charged with the task of collecting pieces of literature that would enhance students’ vocabulary in order to form this curriculum. The topics range from writing introductions to learning new vocabulary. The fear I have with this task emerges from the language barrier as most citizens speak Haitian Creole. Additionally, teaching English poses as a challenge for me because my teaching experience reside exclusively in Mathematics, specifically Pre-Algebra and Algebra.
My first week of work was filled with anxiety and uncertainty. However I am aware that comfort and growth do not co-exist. In order to combat my anxiety, it is my desire to perform adequate research in what an English literacy curriculum will look like. This anxiety sheds light on the importance of organizing and planning. This internship allows me to build skills in planning and ultimately developing an efficient curriculum. I am quite simply learning how to properly plan in the realm of education. While improving my planning skills, I am learning that one must consider elements such as environmental factors, time delays, and progress of the students. I am learning to organize a curriculum that is flexible and almost invincible to any possible curve ball. Planning is essential in this internship. During one’s class time, it is important that they maintain composure and diligence in the presence of students.
Thankfully, I have the help of my co-workers and my amazing director. I am learning quite quickly that I should seek help in times of uncertainty. With that being said, self agency is celebrated in my academic life especially at Brandeis. Yet, in collaborative workspaces such as these, asking for help is not a sign of incompetence. As a new employee, I didn’t want to live with the fear of appearing incompetent or too dependent on my director for assistance. After engaging in other conversations with my peers, I’ve learned that many of them seek inspiration from online sources for curriculum ideas from other teachers. Most importantly, I’ve learned that feeling stuck or nervous about the efficacy of one’s curriculum is not a foreign feeling in education. If anything, I am learning that it is a sign of ambition, passion, and intrinsic care for the students. A mantra that is often repeated in this workspace is “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
Along with building a literacy curriculum, I plan to conduct a writing project that includes West Indian literature that centers around self-agency or coming of age stories. I wish to include works from the Haitian diaspora including the works of Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dancticat. One of the core texts I wish to examine and pull inspiration is from Haiti Noir 2 : The Classics and The Butterfly’s Way : Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, a collection of fictional stories created by young writers of Haitian descent. I believe the texts will help me in including materials that are culturally relevant to students and not to mention that both texts are edited by Edwidge Danticat. For those with knowledge of writers from not only Haitian literature but other West Indian literature, please feel free to comment with texts or articles you think will be helpful.