SFU student teachers meet the Dalai Lama during trip of a lifetime to India
A group of student teachers in the Professional Development Program (PDP) International Teacher Education Module (ITEM) travelled this past fall to Dharamsala, India to participate in an experiential learning module.
Since 1999, SFU has held field experiences around the world in places such as Trinidad, China and Mali. Today, the university also sends students to Oaxaca, Mexico and Dharamsala, India.
The ITEM experience helps pre-service teachers better understand global education practices, and encourages a broader perspective on diversity as they learn the value of community in contexts other than their own.
Participant Shireen Chaganti says the experience sparked an interest in learning about new cultures and traditions.
“I am definitely more sensitive towards being culturally appropriate at all times,” says Chaganti. “I think this experience has made me think of ways in which I can create a mini-community in my classroom where everyone can feel that they belong and are cared for.”
Sarine Sadhra, a program coordinator for the India ITEM module, says that prospective participants can expect the experience to challenge and transform them, all while developing their capacities to teach.
Students who participated in the fall 2015 module received the great honour of a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama—an honour many Tibetans await their entire lives.
“His Holiness felt that we, as teachers, should educate the young minds of children with good morals and ethics and that we should teach Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence,” says Chaganti.
She believes the wisdom gained from meeting His Holiness will help her cohort of student teachers become better educators.