“This experience was a highlight of my teaching career,” Michelle Satterfield said. “Learning another’s perspective fundamentally changes you as a person and moves you towards the best version of yourself.”
Satterfield and Rhonda Bishop, clinical instructors for the department of childhood education and family studies, traveled to Xi’an, China to be guest instructors at Shaanxi Normal University’s International Summer School.
The International Summer School was two weeks long with two-hour sessions each weekday.
Bishop taught a course on community and school partnerships, discussing how schools and communities can work together.
“A lot of the learning focused on the similarities and differences between American and Chinese school systems,” Bishop said.
Satterfield taught a course called The United States’ Role in the Global Classroom. It was her second Summer Institute visit.
Bishop spoke more in-depth about her experience teaching a classroom of students whose native language was not English.
“There were definitely language barriers,” she said. “It made me realize how students of any age who come to the United States who do not speak English as their first language must feel. It was an eye-opening experience, and it helped me evaluate my teaching practice.”
However, the language barriers didn’t prevent Bishop and Satterfield from forming great relationships with the students they taught.
Breaking down barriers and building relationships
“The people of Xi’an are so eager to show their city,” Satterfield said. “One of the most interesting parts of the experience was meeting the very generous people of Xi’an.”
Bishop echoed this sentiment.
“Absolutely connecting with the students who took my course was the most important part of the experience,” Bishop said. “The students at Shaanxi Normal University are kind, gracious and extremely welcoming.” ‘
From teaching it to living it
One of the most exciting parts of the trip for Satterfield was being able to live in the culture she had taught about for years.
“I taught middle school social studies for many years, and we learned about Ancient Chinese history,” Satterfield said. “It was really wonderful to experience the history, the geography and the people of China after teaching about it for so many years.”
She shared a little about their travels.
“We visited historical sites such as the Qin Dynasty’s Terra Cotta Warriors, the City Wall, and the Winter Palance in Xi’an,” Satterfield said. “We also spent some time in Beijing before returning to Springfield. We visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.”
Studying and teaching abroad
“I encourage others to spread your wings and teach abroad,” Satterfield said.
Bishop also encourages faculty and students to travel abroad.
“This experience moved me out of my comfort zone, and I believe this teaching experience helps me view the curriculum I teach through a different lens,” Bishop said. “I know the experience changed me for the better.
“Being selected to go abroad and to have the opportunity to share topics you are passionate about with another culture is an impacting experience,” Bishop said.