International Partnership Offers Opportunities for Students and Teachers in Barbados
As part of its focus on global partnerships, Wheelock College provides a two-faceted education program on Barbados, focused both on strengthening the island nation’s early childhood education system and on providing immersive international learning experiences for Wheelock students.
Through the partnership, students in Wheelock’s child life, education, and other majors can participate in a service learning trip to Barbados. During the trip, they develop an appreciation for a new culture and an understanding of how social context shapes educational experiences for children. During the trip, students spend a full work week in settings where they collaborate with some of Barbados’s most experienced early childhood educators and child life specialists.
Wheelock students say this opportunity to study abroad has brought greater meaning to their classroom instruction and will help them be better educators and leaders when they graduate. “I want to be for another child what my kindergarten teacher was for me,” says Kyra Thomas, a student in Wheelock’s Early Childhood Education degree program. “Talking to the professionals here, I’m getting an idea how to help my children learn academically but still have fun doing it.” Morgan Sutton, who is majoring in Psychology and Human Development, says she especially values the international perspective she gained in Barbados. “I now have more than just the American sense of ways to do things in classrooms,” Sutton says. “I can take this international approach to make sure that my students have a diverse learning experience and the best learning experience they could have.”
“I can take this international approach to make sure that my students have a diverse learning experience and the best learning experience they could have.”
In addition to the immersive student service learning experience, the international partnership also includes a Wheelock graduate certificate program offered in Barbados, as well as a faculty exchange program and joint research in the area of early childhood development. “When we were looking at strengthening early childhood education, we did our homework,” says Dr. Patrick Howe, Director of Higher Education Development for the Barbados Ministry of Education. “Wheelock is an institution that was established around education and respects diversity and is very committed to making sure that when they work with international institutions that they adjust to the specific cultural norms.”
Barbados educators say the professional development opportunity — particularly Wheelock’s grad certificate program — has encouraged and empowered them in their daily work with children and families. “It motivated and encouraged me to set up a library at my school and encouraged me to work with all of the parents in the school,” says Jacqueline Medford, an Early Childhood Coordinator.
Says Dr. Felicity Crawford, Chair of Wheelock’s Special Education Department and Associate Professor, “The opportunities we’ve created for educators in Barbados allow them the chance to explore and investigate the issues they face as educators. It’s important for both teachers and learners to understand the context in which their learning occurs.”
Dr. Linda Davis, Wheelock’s Dean of International Programs and Partnerships, says the benefits of the international partnership work both ways. “In addition to the opportunities our students have to see an international context and to spend time in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, our faculty too have an opportunity through teaching in the certificate program, to spend time with students as well as faculty in the region, and to really explore and engage in research and scholarship,” Davis says.
Learn more about Service Learning and Study Abroad Programs at Wheelock College.