Seven students from the Arkansas Tech University College of Education are engaging in a cultural exchange by interning at Austrian elementary and middle schools this summer.
ATU students Elizabeth Baker, Emily Beirne, Destiney Carroccio, Lexi Chaney, Hanna Raines, Shynece Scott and Alaina Smith are teaching English, American culture and other subjects in schools located in the Austrian province of Styria.
The internships were made possible through an agreement between ATU and the Austrian-American Educational Cooperation Association.
Dr. Shellie Hanna, interim head of the ATU Department of Curriculum and Instruction and associate professor in the ATU College of Education, is accompanying the students on their journey to Austria.
"This trip has been a fantastic opportunity for seven of our ATU students to get to teach in the schools abroad," said Hanna. "It has been a tremendous amount of work preparing to go as well as while they are here teaching. Not only are the students getting the opportunity to practice their teaching skills, but they are working with classes in which none of the students have English as a first language. The area we are in and the country of Austria places so much value in their students learning a foreign language, specifically English, from a native speaker that they have invested a huge financial commitment to the program. It is wonderful for our students who will be teaching in schools in America because so many students in the public schools have a variety of other languages that English as the first or primary language at home."
Some of the ATU students are interning in specialty schools that focus on such topics and music and the arts or physical education. Others are interning in elementary schools and middle schools with a more general curriculum.
Hanna has observed that the ATU students are learning innovative approaches and developing grit through their experiences in Austria.
"It is opening their eyes to be able to be leaders within their schools in the future," said Hanna. "This program is transformative for them to learn about other cultures, ways of life and to be able to become more introspective and reflective about their life and work. We are just one week into the program, and I can already see enormous changes in their abilities to cope and persevere with challenging situations in both teaching and daily life."
The trip commenced on May 17 and is scheduled to conclude on June 15.