Just after the May commencement ceremony, a group of students traveled to Thailand with English professor Kathy Swanson. The students were on a short-term summer study program through Augsburg Abroad.
“Experiences in Thai Education and Culture” required students to prepare, deliver, and assess their oral presentation for Thai students in both small group and classroom settings. They learned about pedagogy for teaching effective ELL (English Language Learners) students. The students taught in the cities of Bangkok and Chiangmai, and the rural village of Prachuab Kirikhan.
Junior Bethany Thompson is pursuing a licensure in secondary education with an emphasis in Communication Arts and Literature. She wanted to go on a short-term study abroad trip and said she was intrigued by the opportunity to teach. “I knew it would be an experience I would never forget, and it was,” she said.
Thompson learned to have a greater appreciation for the Thai culture and gained valuable teaching experience. “I was able to deal with some particular ELL issues that I may come across in the future. I didn’t expect classes of 50 students, but it was just another surprise along the trip,” she said.
Becki Iverson is a Sophomore history and journalism major. She said she went on the trip to fulfill a major requirement and to get “a taste of something completely unique and separated from the Western and American lifestyle I’m used to.”
The trip taught her to open her eyes to the world around her. “Thailand is a completely different world from the one I am used to in Minnesota, and there were tons of new tastes, sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that I experienced.”
As a tall, blonde woman with a pale complexion, Iverson got a lot of attention in Thailand. She said, “I don’t think I expected to be as much of a stand out there as I was. There were actually Thai people taking photos with me instead of with the tourist attractions we visited.”
Iverson said she would definitely encourage students to go on a short-term study abroad program because it’s a safe and cost-effective way to travel. “It’s a great way to experience another country without taking a semester or year out of your plans to travel,” she said. “And it helps you make some pretty great friends as you travel.”