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OISE graduate fulfills internship requirement and lifelong dream by volunteering abroad in Tanzania

Jason SternJason Stern (23) took a giant step outside of his comfort zone when hearrived in Arusha, Tanzania in early May. As part his bachelor’s programme in education at the University of Toronto, Jason needed to complete a teaching internship.He signed up for a six week volunteer placement with a special needs school through Projects Abroad.

“The school is quite understaffed and some teachers lack the skills to effectively teach certain subject areas. The students also love having volunteers around and are so appreciative of our presence and the work we do.”

Jason reported to the school daily focusing on writing mathematics lesson plans for the standard five and six hearing impaired classes, followed by a few hours of instruction. He says he was given significant responsibility in the classroom and even helped prepare the students for their maths exams.

Jason Stern“I learnt a lot about working with hearing impaired students. I learnt that they are just as capable as any other student but it can require a lot more effort to give them the education that they need and
deserve. I also learnt and continued to improve on my verbal Kiswahili and Kiswahili sign language during
my placement. I learnt the entire sign alphabet after my first week as well as some other basic phrases.”

The culture of Tanzania and the lack of structure in the classroom were challenging for Jason at times, but he believes the experience will be beneficial as he has already secured a full time teaching position at a secondary school in London, England.

“My experience at Patandi will be very useful towards my future as a teacher. Although I won’t be working with hearing impaired Tanzanian children, I have learnt a lot about teaching in general and
also about myself.”

His fondest memory is from his first day of class, when he was given a special sign name by the students. Moments like that as well as the relationships he made with the people he met during his short
time will impact him for the rest of his life.

“Many things are different in Tanzania compared to Canada such as the food, the public transportation, the curriculum in the school and the shopping and weather, but there are so many things I love about Arusha. Whether people are trying to sell you something or not, they are generally very friendly and
welcoming. I am also very happy with the network of contacts and friends that made from the Projects Abroad Team and with other volunteers from around the world.”

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