Education Students Visit Schools in Mexico City

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: June 24, 2009

According to research, only 4 percent of U.S. education majors participate in study abroad opportunities, but Lynne Masel Walters wants to change that statistic—starting with her students.

Walters, associate professor of culture, curriculum and instruction, and Teresa Jimarez, clinical assistant professor of science education and technology, led a nine-day study abroad trip to Mexico City, Mexico, during spring break for 18 freshmen and sophomores from the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture in the College of Education and Human Development.

The trip, which was part of a multicultural education course, was designed to give preservice teachers the opportunity to experience another culture, which is important for future educators who will be teaching diverse student populations.

The travelers visited two schools: Christel House, a nonprofit school, and Gama, a private institution. At Christel House, the students actually taught a lesson they developed on the commonalities of Texas and Mexico.

"They taught them how to sing 'Deep in the Heart of Texas.' The kids really liked the clapping part," Walters says.

"The highlight of my trip was when we visited the Christel House," says freshman education major Nafi Raza. "At this school, they provide a learning atmosphere to children whose parents don't make a great income. The school is beautiful, and the children are amazing!"

Walters worked with La Universidad de La Salle, which arranged for the students to stay with host families in Mexico City to give them a taste of Mexican home life.

"One of the important things in early childhood education is how families engage in their child's education and how they feel about it," Walters adds.

While at La Universidad de La Salle, the visitors became conversation partners with student English language learners through the university's English Language Institute.

Additionally, the group visited the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica of Guadalupe, and saw a performance of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. They also attended lectures on Mexican history, culture and education.

The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Provost for Academic Services at Texas A&M provided a $20,000 grant for the trip to encourage underclassmen to engage in study abroad experiences.

"I am a firm believer in the study-abroad experience and how it changes people's lives," Walters says.

Raza felt the trip reinforced her desire to become a teacher and influenced how she will teach.

"I know I will be encountering all sorts of children," she says. "I have learned to open my heart and embrace the diversity in my classroom."