Aspiring educators get 'ultimate field experience' in Tanzania

Imagine being 10 feet away from an elephant and driving through the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Eight UNI teacher education candidates joined their education professor, Victoria Robinson, on a trip of a lifetime. The "ultimate field experience" took eight students out of their comfort zones, in a wildly different culture to expand their perspectives on the world. Students left the flatlands of Iowa for the Serengeti in Tanzania to hone their teaching skills.

Spring break in Tanzania
Eight UNI students taught lessons to children attending Bashay Primary School in Tanzania.

But the real purpose of the trip was to teach children at the Shalom Orphanage and the Bashay Primary School. The UNI students prepared and taught lessons to the children – valuable resources that were given to the teachers to use in future classrooms.

"Teaching these students at Bashay was the most exciting and impactful experience I have had during my time at UNI," said Mary Mysnyk, a senior from Iowa City. "Seeing the methods and strategies I've learned from my UNI courses impact student learning in Tanzania was proof of the quality education I am receiving. I am planning on student teaching abroad next spring and hoping to teach internationally upon graduation. This experience confirmed my desire to pursue those dreams."

While the students worked with the children, Robinson, who leads UNI's Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education, spent her days working with the teachers, offering them resources and tips for best practices to enhance their classroom instruction.

Robinson and the students also had free time to explore the culture and lands of Tanzania and to learn first-hand about diversity – something that is often learned by seeing and doing and leaving the classroom.

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