Seeing Student Similarities Halfway Around the World

Maribeth Sublette

In reflecting on the time I spent this summer in Skopje, Macedonia, I am flooded with fond memories. From the moment that I got off of the plane in Macedonia, I was welcomed with open arms by my host teacher, Maja B. She has since transferred to a different school, but when I visited she worked as an English teacher, and part-time assistant principal at a vocational high school. Being able to shadow her at school was such a wonderful experience. Although the students were not doing typical coursework because of their preparation for the national standardized test, I was fascinated by how schools in Macedonia operated. I learned far too much to include in this short article, but what stands out to me the most about my experiences in the schools is just how similar students are all around the

world. The classrooms, the technology available to teachers, and the facilities differed greatly from what we have here in Tempe; the students, however, were shockingly similar. As I observed students in Skopje, I found myself frequently thinking that the personalities of my own students, and our classroom dynamic half way around the world was so similar to what I was seeing. The teachers I watched were passionate about their content, and they respected their students. In turn, the students were engaged, and were participating in the learning. It was wonderful to watch.

When I was not observing classrooms, I had an amazing time experiencing life in Skopje, Struga, and Greece. The cities were all gorgeous, and I am missing burek and Macedonian cheese greatly. I cannot wait for Maja to come to Tempe to experience life here. Hopefully, I will be able to show her as wonderful of a time as she showed me.

– Maribeth Sublette, 2014 Educator Exchange, Skopje, Macedonia

Maribeth teaches English, McClintock High School and Brandy teaches English at Corona del Sol High School.

Our Educator Exchange program is dedicated to the development of professional, educational growth and understanding between the educators of Tempe and the educators of Regensburg, Germany, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, and Skopje, Macedonia. Five teachers participated in the summer of 2014: two to Regensburg, two to Skopje and one to Lower Hutt. These are stories shared by one of this year’s educators.

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