Malawi provides CEHD students with educational experience

The most rewarding aspect of my time at the Malemia Primary School was seeing a child smile and knowing I was the reason behind it."

Tabitha Nelson


To gain a global perspective on teaching and service, students in the Radford University School of Teacher Education and Leadership program traveled to Malawi, Africa.

Sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and the International Education Center, the educational experience gave aspiring teachers valuable practical experience. Patricia Talbot, associate professor of Educational Leadership, completed her sixth trip to Malawi since 2008.

“Each year is unique based on the group of students who travel with us,” Talbot said. “We base our projects there – in part – on their individual interests and needs.”

The group performed research with Jean Mistele, an associate professor in the Mathematics and Statistics department. The students worked on a STEM project and helped the Malawian children build windmills based on the book, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” and assisted a small group of girls with one-on-one writing and mentoring. While in Malawi, the CEHD students provided Malemia Primary School with school supplies.

Radford students worked at a school with traditionally large classes and enriched the Malawian students more opportunities for personalized interaction.

“I want to make sure I have one-on-one conversations with my students so they feel comfortable asking me questions if they don’t understand a lesson or need help in any way,” said senior Catherine Turner.

The school children in Malawi were eager to learn from the Radford students and apply their new-found knowledge.

CEHD students in Malawi, Africa.

CEHD students in Malawi, Africa.

Turner said it was heartbreaking wanting to help the kids, but not having all the supplies they needed.

“The children do not have many belongings, simply having their shoes on their feet is a blessing,” said senior Tabitha Nelson. “They are genuinely happy and their smiles are radiant.”

“One of the most important things I learned on this trip is to stay open-minded,” said senior Alyson Gokey. “My teaching styles are not always the best and I can learn from other teachers that some ways work better than others.”

Nelson said she learned you don’t need technology or a lot of resources to be a great teacher. “The most rewarding aspect of my time at the Malemia Primary School was seeing a child smile and knowing I was the reason behind it,” she said.

Gokey said there are many ways to make a study abroad trip possible and it is a life-changing experience that is definitely worth it.

“I believe international experience…is very important for anyone who wishes to be a teacher,” Talbot said. “It puts our privilege in perspective and humbles us.”

Aug 2, 2017
Maddie White