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Visiting Scholar Dr. Laura Stachowski
Not many people can say that they’ve had the opportunity to teach in a cultural context different than your own. Dr. Laura Stachowski, the director of Global Gateway for Teachers program at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana however, has been making this dream become a reality for students.
Dr. Stachowski’s passion for international education began when she served as a student teacher in England back in 1979. Since then she has been heavily involved in developing Indiana University’s global presence in the field of Education. After finishing her doctorate degree in Curriculum Studies at Indiana in 1994, she became the director of the Global Gateway program, formerly known as the Cultural Immersion Projects. This program was designed to place student teachers abroad in addition to the Navajo Nation and in Chicago City Public Schools. Dr. Stachowski has continued to expand the program and there are currently 18 host countries where students have the opportunity to study including: Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Turkey and Wales.
The students enter the program during their junior year, in which they undergo a year long intensive preparatory phase. After selecting their host country or domestic destination, students participate in training workshops in which they are given readings and assignments associated with that area. In addition to these training workshops, students met with past participants of the program to gain more background information and tips. After this preparatory phase is completed, students must complete a 10 week student teaching placement in Indiana. The students are evaluated based on their performance at this placement by Global Gateway’s associate instructors.
While at their abroad or domestic placement, students are required to complete in-depth bi-weekly cultural reflection journals. These journals are designed to prompt questions that assist the students in exploring cultural values while evaluating their ability to adapt to a foreign environment.
During Dr. Stachowski’s visit, she delivered a research presentation entitled “Transforming Learning through Structured Cultural Immersion.” This presentation discussed several key topic areas, including how the Global Gateways program was formed, its requirements for enrollment, and how it has impacted the students entering the field. In addition, Dr. Stachowski outlined the program’s curriculum, explaining that it was built through a combination of cultural study, community involvement, service learning, and classroom experience.
“We would like to expand domestic and international cultural immersion opportunities for students in the College of Education, specifically emphasizing pre-preparatory coursework and service with the host communities,” stated Dr. Noorie Brantmeier, Assistant Professor in the College of Education.
Dr. Aaron Bodle, an Assistant Professor in the College of Education agreed with Dr. Brantmeier, stating that Dr. Stachowski’s visit is a great opportunity to explore best practices and expand upon the college’s international presence.
“We believe that there is already a strong program in place for international and intercultural experiences,” admitted Dr.Bodle. “The value we see in Dr. Stachowski’s visit is to consider additional study abroad opportunities and build upon the existing strong foundation that already exists in the college.”