In October of this year, Monterey Institute staff member Lisa Donohoe Luscombe (MATESOL ’09) traveled to St. Andre’s school in the central plateau of Haiti on a volunteer mission to conduct an English language needs analysis for the 900-student school and to introduce One Laptop Per Child XO machines to teachers and students. The project, nicknamed “Team EFL Haiti,” attracted a team of four students in the fall curriculum design course led by Professor Jason Martel.
The students—Haley Berl (MATESOL ’14), Dane Carson (MATESOL ’16), Maggie Rodgers (MATESOL ’16) and Syd Schulz (TESOL Certificate ’13)—developed a curriculum design for both English and computer literacy at St. Andre’s. In January over winter term, Haley, fellow student Gregory Singfield (MATESOL ’14) and alumna Marie Snider (MATESOL ’13) traveled to Haiti to work on a three-week project that included teaching evening English classes for the community, working with local English teachers on teacher training and professional development, and setting up a computer lab for students.
As far as real-life professional training goes, it does not get much better than this. The students have all worked exceptionally hard, knowing that their class project can make an immediate difference in people’s lives. Being able to follow up and implement the first phase of the curriculum is another amazing learning experience. In the evening, when the team in Haiti has a few moments to unwind, they use it to hang out with members of the community, laughing and talking into the night. They are dutifully recording their experiences on a blog and will share their reflections and lessons learned with fellow students when they return.
And this is just the beginning—starting in the spring semester, a new group of students will begin developing an official English language curriculum for St. Andre’s school.