St. Veronica provides guests view of American teaching

HOWELL — Eight student teachers from Taiwan recently had an opportunity to experience American education and to share their cultural traditions at Saint Veronica School in Howell.

From March 23 to May 8, students from National Taipei University in Taiwan participated in an internship that began with them visiting Saint Veronica School as teaching observers in several classrooms.

The students traveled to the United States through the International Center for Language Studies, Washington, D.C., according to Principal Sister Cherree Power. The center offers internships in the United States to meet the needs of international, national and local communities.

“The director of global education at Georgian Court University in Lakewood got in contact with a professor from National Taipei University through this program to get students who were preparing to be elementary school and English as a second language teachers,” Power said.

According to Power, the students from Taiwan were coming to America to learn more about the nation’s school system and culture, and to provide a classroom lesson to the Saint Veronica School pupils by sharing their Taiwanese culture.

Prior to the arrival of the Taiwanese students, the Saint Veronica School pupils were nervous about the experience, according to Power.

“The students were excited, but also apprehensive at first because they did not know if they would be able to effectively communicate with the Taiwanese students. … As soon as the interns came it was relaxed and an instant connection was made,” she said.

While the visitors practiced their teaching and communication skills with the Saint Veronica School pupils, they also shared their culture with them, which is something that many of the children will never forget, according to Power.

“The interns taught them traditions like Chinese paper cutting and how to eat with chopsticks. They cooked dumplings for our students, which the children loved to get an actual taste of Taiwanese culture. During gym class, the students played a game that is popular in Taiwan called jianzi, which involves keeping an object in the air for as long as possible,” she said.

At the end of the experience, the interns told school administrators the experience was memorable and something they would never forget, according to Power.

“The interns loved being here and some even said our school made them feel like family,” Power said.

In their observations, the Taiwanese guests noticed several differences between American and Taiwanese teaching, according to the principal.

“The interns loved that at Saint Veronica, teachers would interact with students on an individual basis, while in Taiwan the teacher would focus on students as a whole and there is more of a competition between students.

“The interns learned how to make lesson plans, work with technology, even though they were already tech savvy, and they even came as chaperones to some of the kids’ school dances,” Power said.

She said the interns have remained in touch even as they have moved on.

“Saying goodbye was very difficult and even included some tears from students … It was great to have the interns and we would welcome them again in the future,” Power said.

— Taylor M. Lier