In 2019, I was recruited by the headmaster of the Abaarso School to develop the institution’s first visual arts course and design an elective on peace and conflict studies. During a regular summer shift in the office of Admissions at Bennington College, I was tasked to give a tour to two representatives from the leadership program based in Zimbabwe, I was informed that they were looking into Bennington to see if it’s a good fit for their students to continue their higher education. I knew very little about the background of the people I was touring, but I was able to do some research on their program before our tour. After introducing myself and my work, and showing them the campus, the tour ended with us exchanging contact information. A week from our tour, I receive an email from the headmaster inviting me to their campus in a visiting teacher position.
The Abaarso School is dedicated to mostly science and technology-based curriculum and has a high success rate of students that continue their higher education internationally. The school’s progressive education model and mission spoke to me as being reminiscent of my own educational goals. I was prepared to adapt to being a member of a residential institution where, because of its U.S. accreditation, most of my colleagues were also international.
Upon my arrival, I conducted 35 student personal profile records. I developed and implemented lesson plans that suited the interests and passions of my students as I assessed, as well as recorded and communicated student progress. I was able to observe issues the students were facing, such as gender segregation and lack of researching skills due to limited internet access, and curate my courses to address them, while also recognizing their interests in art and culture, and passion for pursuing their education. I taught two interdisciplinary courses in Arts and Peacebuilding to suit the experience of Muslim African students and was able to serve as an advisor to students applying to colleges in the U.S.