While the faculty was opening my eyes to international experience, the coursework broadened my horizons and encouraged me to become a more aware global citizen, global ambassador, leader, and catalyst for change.
Pamela Vanias’ Meredith education has taken her to Asia and Africa, and she is just getting started.
A 2010 graduate with a degree in family and consumer sciences, Vanias is an experienced educator who spent three years teaching first grade in Shanghai. While she loved the school and the children, Vanias realized her heart was set on having an impact on more than one classroom.
“My passion lies in educational development, and assuring educational equality and accessibility to all children worldwide,” Vanias explained.
To bolster her teaching experience, she decided to spend an academic year volunteering. She selected an education organization in South Africa, a non-profit in Kenya that supports women with AIDS, and a school in Uganda.
Vanias works toward change when she sees challenges. While teaching in China she recognized that school mealtimes were generating a lot of wasted food, so she took action.
“After seeing snacks being trashed day after day, I [decided] to do something about the waste,” she said. “I passed out the snacks to the street cleaners, the disabled, and the homeless persons around the city.” By the end of the year, she was passing out hundreds of snacks each week. Her example led her coworkers and students to become more mindful of food waste.
Vanias took on another challenge at a primary school in South Africa, where she identified the need for an improved reading curriculum, and worked with volunteer teachers to develop one.
“I went into teacher overdrive and began taking notes, pulling common core standards, and writing a new program that focuses on fluency and uses practical materials to write relevant lessons,” said Vanias, whose efforts resulted in a promotion.
Vanias plans to attend graduate school in Washington, D.C., for a master’s degree in international educational development. “I will focus on accessibility and equality as it relates to primary school education in the developing world.”
Vanias credits Meredith with setting her on this path.
“While the faculty was opening my eyes to international experience, the coursework broadened my horizons and encouraged me to become a more aware global citizen, global ambassador, leader, and catalyst for change.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Meredith Magazine.