Timor transforms Notre Dame pre-service teachers

Julie Maakrun (centre) with Notre Dame Education students in Timor-Leste.

20 July 2017

An international service-learning program, which takes Education students from Notre Dame University’s Sydney Campus out into Timor-Leste to run workshops with local children, continues to make a long-lasting impact on pre-service teachers and their classroom development.

An initiative of Notre Dame’s School of Education, Sydney, made possible through funding by the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan (NCP), the Timor-Leste Immersion Program provided 21 students with a unique international teaching experience, designed to build global awareness and improve teaching skills.

Notre Dame students worked side-by-side with the small, rural community of Maliana (about 150km southwest of Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili) to deliver creative art lessons and sporting skills to primary-aged children at Padre Manuel Luis Primary School.

Now in its third year, the immersion program has established a positive, sustainable relationship between the University and the Maliana community.

Education student, Katelyn Harold, said the Timor-Leste trip was invaluable to her professional development as she was able to engage with students from different cultural and language backgrounds.

“In hindsight my perception of communication was really quite naive and this experience in Timor-Leste has really helped me understand and develop skills I will need as a teacher. It's through this cultural immersion at Notre Dame that I have been given the opportunities to learn these skills” Katelyn said.

Amelia D’Souza, a final year student, saw this immersion as an opportunity to build global awareness and contribute meaningfully to an international community.

“Building connections with staff, students and Timorese residents reassures me that we can all make an impact on young minds, not just in Timor-Leste, but across the world through our capacity as teachers,” Amelia said.

Associate Dean of the School of Education, Sydney, Julie Maakrun, said this initiative was one of many within the University that prepared pre-service teachers for a career in the classroom.

“As teacher educators, capitalising on international service learning immersion programs has allowed us to engage pre-service teachers in experiences that lead to significant impact on both their personal growth and professional competencies.”

“Increasing globalisation, places significant value for teachers having requisite knowledge, understanding and skills to effectively respond to increasing student cultural diversity. International immersion programs enable students to enter a world where inter cultural competence is critical for life long success.”

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au