An interest in global education took Tracy Hubbard (MS '05) to India this summer. Hubbard, a library media specialist at the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Evanston Skokie (IL) District 65, spent July in India as a fellow with Teachers for a Global Classroom.
The goal of the program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the nonprofit organization IREX, is to build global perspectives and understanding that can be applied in teaching while also building positive relationships with other countries. Over four hundred teachers applied for the program, and Hubbard was one of about eighty teachers who were accepted. During her time in India, she primarily worked with schools in Parthadi, Maharastra, but toured other parts of the country as well.
"Our host teacher was from a school called Shri Tilok Jain Higher Secondary School. The enrollment was over one thousand students in 6-12th grade (what they call standard). Class sizes would range from 60-120 students. Their main coursework was in Hindi, Marathi (the national language of Maharashtra), English, math, and science. We met with some incredibly smart students," she said.
In addition, Hubbard visited residential schools for the deaf and hearing impaired and those with developmental disabilities.
"Every time we visited a school, we were treated as very special guests. There would be speeches, songs, and dancing. The beauty of the people and the culture really stood out. We were so incredibly honored and overwhelmed with how beautiful the students were and how generous they were in their welcoming and sharing," said Hubbard.
She saw two formal libraries during her trip to India, one in a K-5 school in Bangalore and the other at St. Mary’s in Delhi. According to Hubbard, the Bangalore school was very sparse, and a teacher was working with retired veterans from the army to piece together technology via a couple of computers. St. Mary’s, on the other hand, had a beautiful library and a huge section for test preparation.
Hubbard's report for Teachers for a Global Classroom addresses her research findings on how the literature of India has shaped its people. She hopes to continue working with the new friends she met in India, and she is starting a long distance book club to discuss Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions. Her host teacher is now an assistant professor at Mumbai University working on a program called CLIX, Connected Learning Initiative, which is partnering with schools in India to develop learning via technology.
Hubbard, who is also the library department chair for the fifteen libraries in her district, would highly recommend the program to her fellow educators. "It was a truly wonderful experience."