The Student's Voice 2

 

Student Teaching in Chennai, India...

03/03/2014

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There are many misconceptions about student teaching internationally. I would like to put some of those misconceptions to rest. First, the schools we teach at are English speaking schools meaning we do not have to be fluent in any other language than English. Second, as a student teacher in India my students are not only from India (in fact only 3 or 4 were in my classroom) but they are from Japan, Korea, Germany, France, Great Britain as well as the US. Many of the teachers I work with are Americans who have found an appreciation for travelling and teaching abroad and a few are from other countries. The curriculum we teach is an American curriculum which means that everything kids are learning in Iowa, they learn here in Chennai.

Many people might think that student teaching internationally is expensive and I would agree if you are talking about places like Europe, however, places like India are sometimes cheaper than the US. The Indian rupee is worth less than the dollar which means that my money goes a lot further here (with that “extra” money I have decided to travel India!).

My school is great! I am teaching at the American International School in Chennai. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed by numerous staff members and everyone was very encouraging. They made the transition so much easier for me. I was nervous at first to come to India for student teaching. People have a lot of ideas about India and what they think it is like. India is absolutely beautiful and awe-inspiring while at the same time it is dirty and there is constant commotion. Yes, there are many things that you may question while here, such as, why do so many people ride motorbikes without helmets and why don’t they just stay in their own lane instead of merging all of the time? There is a method to the madness I promise you and once you reach that realization you will start to enjoy your time here much more.


Picture(Getting “henna” done)

The colors are simply astounding and the food is incredible. Indian people are very kind in general and the British influence on their English is amusing at first and after a while you will come to appreciate being called “madam” and having people to help you do whatever you may need done. The support I have received here is incredible. The school is its own community and people treat you as if you are part of their family. I am extremely blessed to be a part of what is going on at AISC.

The last issue I would like to address is the mindset that all of India is a slum, which is just not true. There are certainly areas in India and even in Chennai that are low-income areas but the neighborhood I live in and the area near the school are not like that. I feel very safe in my home and especially at school. India is an amazing place because of that fact that there is so much development going on in the middle of areas that we would see as “dirty”. There are over 7 million people in this city. I have never lived in a city this big so I know that things are different than in my hometown of 25,000.


Picture(“Cotton Street” – Buying fabrics to make a salwar kameez)

The colors are simply astounding and the food is incredible. Indian people are very kind in general and the British influence on their English is amusing at first and after a while you will come to appreciate being called “madam” and having people to help you do whatever you may need done. The support I have received here is incredible. The school is its own community and people treat you as if you are part of their family. I am extremely blessed to be a part of what is going on at AISC.

The last issue I would like to address is the mindset that all of India is a slum, which is just not true. There are certainly areas in India and even in Chennai that are low-income areas but the neighborhood I live in and the area near the school are not like that. I feel very safe in my home and especially at school. India is an amazing place because of that fact that there is so much development going on in the middle of areas that we would see as “dirty”. There are over 7 million people in this city. I have never lived in a city this big so I know that things are different than in my hometown of 25,000.


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My last piece of advice for anyone interested in student teaching internationally: go somewhere new! Try to broaden your horizons by experiencing a new culture and country while student teaching. Yes, student teaching can be stressful at times but the payoff for such an experience is priceless. I have made friends and professional connections that I never would have if I had stayed in Iowa and gone the safe route. There is nothing wrong with student teaching in Iowa but I took the chance to do it now and I do not regret it in the least.