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International Faculty Share Global Perspectives
by Shannon T. Zarb | Back to Table of Contents
Ravenscroft’s international faculty bring authentic global perspectives to their classrooms and the greater school community, providing yet another avenue by which our teachers prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world. As Katie Barnwell, chair of the World Languages Department, said, “Students benefit from the ability to interact with a native speaker as well as have a deeper understanding of that individual’s culture and current perspectives outside of the U.S.”
We asked some of our international faculty what they miss most about their home countries and how they believe their experiences and perspectives most benefit their students here at Ravenscroft.
Ana Maria Mendez, Lower School Spanish Teacher
Colombia is full of mountains, colors and beautiful nature. You love the country where you come from and love it even more when you are far from it. I grew up watching soccer, dancing salsa and eating the arepas (cornmeal cakes) prepared by my aunts. Family is everything in my life, and it is what I miss the most.
My goal is to develop a sense of respect for other cultures and traditions. We need leaders who have empathy, ethics and all the willingness to help people regardless of their race, color and language.
At right: Preparing for a tour of the San Felipe de Barajas castle in Cartagena, Colombia, Mendez and her family are greeted by a palenquera, a now-iconic reminder of the former African slaves who, in 1691, declared independence from Spanish colonial powers and founded the first free community of the Americas, Palenque.
Jessica Yonzon, Upper School Social Studies Teacher
Nepal is known for the Himalayas and Mount Everest. It is a beautiful, diverse nation with 126 distinct ethnic groups and as many diverse cuisines as there are people! I miss the mountains, culture, my family, friends and food.
My experiences have made me realize the value of listening to multiple perspectives and appreciating different ways of life. I constantly bring that lens to my teaching, especially in a class like Global Issues, encouraging students to look at all sides of an issue to extend their empathy.
At right: Yonzon explores Segovia, Spain, during a 2017 exchange program with Upper School students. “Everytime I go somewhere new and meet new people, I realize how much I did not know before!” Yonzon said. “There are so many ways to think, see and do things around the world and there is so much more for me to learn. That is why I enjoy my work in global education.”
Richa Dolia, Upper School Science Teacher
India is a country with diverse languages, landscapes, delicious foods, religions and clothing. I miss the close kinship with neighbors and access to friends and babysitters. I also miss being able to call our elderly “Uncle” and “Auntie” as a term of endearment, rather than because you’re related to them.
I consider myself blessed to be able to live and work in two completely different countries. Being in a new environment has not only made me question the norms, rituals and the way we did things back home, but it has also helped me become more resilient and able to adjust.
At right: Dolia and her family gather in Gujarat, India, in January 2019 to celebrate the head-shaving ceremony for her young son. “The first (pure) set of hair is donated to a Hindu deity,” she explained.
Yi-Wen Liu, Upper School Mandarin Teacher
Growing up in a Chinese-speaking country, I was immersed in both local and international affairs. There are a lot of traditions, such as rituals honoring our ancestors, food customs and festivals. Although I miss the ability to vote and make changes in my home country, I also appreciate the opportunity to be a global citizen by stepping out of my comfort zone and relocating to the United States.
In my classes, I always encourage students to show respect to the target culture by recognizing inappropriate behaviors to avoid misunderstandings. Being open-minded and seeking positive ways to celebrate differences will lead us to a world with less conflict.
At right: Liu visits Hualian, in eastern Taiwan, to present at a Chinese-language teaching conference in 2018. “I also got to reunite with my family and travel around the island,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience meeting different relatives throughout the trip.”
Ana Maria Mendez and family
Richa Dolia and family