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Making Cultural Connections

Making Cultural Connections

I learn as much from my students as they learn from me

Cultural bridge builder is a fitting description of Cindy Anderson, ’12 MAT. As a middle school English as a second language (ESL) teacher in Chapel Hill, N.C., Cindy teaches a diverse group of English language learners (ELLs) about the language and culture of America.

Cindy was drawn to teaching ESL in part by her students’ desire to learn. “They are eager to learn English as well as other facets of American culture,” said Cindy. “Being a part of my students’ lives helps them feel connected.”

It’s a mutual learning experience. “I learn as much from my students as they learn from me,” she said. “I get to know their families and the backgrounds from which they come.”

Understanding is a big part of Cindy’s approach to teaching – as is the use of technology in the classroom. As many Meredith-education teachers do, she seeks professional development opportunities to further enhance her skills and stay at the top of her field.

In 2013, Cindy applied for – and received – a Borchardt Award through the Center for International Understanding at UNC-Chapel Hill. Along with 34 other teachers from North Carolina, Cindy traveled across India to teach in and observe the country’s schools in an educational cultural exchange.

Before she left, Cindy devised a plan to make cultural connections between her students in the U.S. and the students and teachers she would meet in India. She created a website where she shares lesson plans and collaborates with teachers in other countries. The site also provides an opportunity for students to interact with one another through blog posts and comments. In addition to the global connections her students are making, the website is another platform for them to practice their English writing skills.

Cindy’s Meredith MAT and her cultural immersion experience make her strong. She uses her strengths to create meaningful bonds with the students she teaches. And together, they’re able to build bridges with others around the world.

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