Manhattan College Education Students Gain Real-Life Teaching Experience in Africa

Manhattan College education students recently returned from a two-week service trip to Windhoek, Namibia.

RIVERDALE, N.Y. –– Eight Manhattan College education students recently returned from a two-week service trip to Windhoek, Namibia after teaching and helping to prepare future lesson plans for more than 120 children at an after school program. Accompanied by four faculty members, the students (six seniors and two juniors) applied skills they had received in their own education courses, and organized age-appropriate lessons and games to enhance the learning of children with limited resources and overcrowded classrooms.

“I think this experience increased our students’ confidence because their level of knowledge about what to do and how to approach things was tremendous, and everyone else was depending on them, asking for advice, watching them and seeing how well they were able to manage a classroom,” said Karen Nicholson, Ph.D., associate professor of education, and one of the faculty members who attended the trip. Along with Nicholson, William Merriman, Ph.D., dean and professor of the school of education, Peter McCarthy, Ph.D., assistant professor of special and elementary education, and Br. Augustine Nicoletti, FSC, Ed.D., associate professor of education and chair of the department, also attended the trip. MaryBeth Gallagher, co-director of the Centre and a New York native, was very impressed by the students’ professionalism, and grateful because the students prepared lesson plans for when they left to facilitate a smoother transition for the children.

The group from Manhattan College departed on May 31 to travel to Namibia and volunteer at the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre, which in addition to academic enrichment and support, also provides athletic, cultural, social and craft opportunities. The Bernhard Nordkamp Centre is part of Catholic Aids Action and occupies premises in Katutura owned by the Catholic Church in Namibia. The Centre is committed to helping children enroll in school and thrive in the classroom as a way to combat the effects of poverty.

“The Manhattan College students also visited a Christian school and a public school during the trip, and were able to see firsthand the different academic experiences that Namibian students were receiving,” added Nicholson. “Since the country of Namibia is only 21 years old and the ministry of education is very young, the implementation and structure is evolving.”

“Volunteering in Namibia was the most incredible and humbling experience,” said Christina Ferrari ’12. “We were able to help Namibian children get excited about learning while being completely immersed in a different culture, and I don't think any of us will ever forget those two life-changing weeks.”

To learn more about the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre and how you can help, visit http://www.volunteer-namibia.com/. Also, see the video on MaryBeth Gallagher’s work with the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre at: http://vimeo.com/12618632.