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The Final Countdown: Two Days to Takeoff

Posted by Buresch, Taylor N - June 5, 2014 - Academics, Education, Featured, Namibia, Students, Study Abroad, Taylor B.

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For those of you who don’t know, my name is Taylor Buresch, a senior special education major with minors in cognitive disabilities and Spanish. I am more than excited to not only embark on the trip of a lifetime to Namibia, Africa, with 14 fellow students and Professor Patty Caro, but also to share my experiences with all of you.

Whilst in Namibia, I will be taking on the role of a student “coach.” My experiences will include administering testing, developing IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), observing students who have been previously identified as having specific needs, and working closely with the principal and teachers of the National Institute for Special Education to better meet their needs as a school community. We will spend the majority of our three weeks teaching in the classroom, but also learning.

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There has been an abundance of preparation prior to our takeoff time of 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 7. As a group, we have attended seminars regarding visual impairments, emotional behavioral disorders, and Namibian culture. We have also discussed our concern for the lack of supplies available to the students who attend the National Institute for Special Education (NISE). As a future teacher, I understand the importance of using your educational resources within the community. I contacted a middle school in my hometown (Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake, Illinois) to see if they would be interested in donating supplies to a school in great need. With the generous help of the teachers, administration, and 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, I was able to put collection boxes throughout the hallways for end-of-the-school-year donations during locker cleaning. The sheer amount of supplies was insurmountable. Hundreds of reams of lined paper, dozens of full marker,  colored pencil,  and crayon boxes, pounds of unsharpened pencils, folders, binders, calculators, erasers, and a couple hundred glue sticks, overflowed into the hallways and made their way to my living room to be sorted. A vast majority of university students headed to Namibia are also bringing a 50 lb. suitcase of humanitarian aid. It is incredible the amount of support and generosity shown by students and teachers alike. We take for granted the supplies that engage learners and provide them means of creative expression. We take for granted the hands-on learning experiences through educational manipulatives and curriculum. We take for granted the paper to sign and the computer to type.

It’s the final countdown with only two days until we takeoff into a world of opportunity and novel educational experiences. There is an excitement and eagerness to meet the learners in Namibia and work in conjunction with the Pre-K through 8th grade teachers. This collaboration benefits all parties involved.

With that being said, welcome to your front row seat into the adventures and escapades of UW-Stevens Point taking on Namibia!

 “I want to see the world. Follow a map to its edges, and keep going. Forgo the plans. Trust my instincts. Let curiosity be my guide. I want to change hemispheres. Sleep with unfamiliar stars and let the journey unfold before me.” ~The Map Manifesto

Taylor Buresch, a senior special education major with minors in cognitive disabilities and Spanish, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia, Africa.

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