Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Teaching in Pakistan

Story posted September 23, 2010

Through an award from the Preston Public Interest Career Fund and an internship with the Al-Imtiaz Academy (AIA) in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Mariya Ilyas '13 worked this past summer with all three campuses of the Academy: the Junior Section (nursery through 2nd grade); the Girls Section (grades 3 through 12); and the Boys Section (grades 3 through 10).

In June, Mariya had the wonderful opportunity to work with nursery kids. Through creative activities and arts projects, she taught the ABC’s, 123’s, and the Urdu alphabet. Noticing that the nursery class teachers were not utilizing crafts, toys, and other resources, she successfully introduced a CD player. The kids enjoyed listening, dancing, and singing along to rhymes such as "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

Although the AIA students were on summer vacation during July, Mariya was able to conduct a "blogging project" with the upperclass boys and girls who self-volunteered to participate. There were three main goals behind this project:

  1. to teach the kids about the writing process and to give them a chance to strengthen their English writing;
  2. to teach them computer technology, including typing, features of the Microsoft Word, and the Internet;
  3. to teach them the art of blogging, a new form of online communication with the world.

Because of the cultural gender divide, the boys and girls were taught separately - different times and different locations. Regardless, both groups had positive responses about the blogging project— enjoying learning figurative language, drafting a narrative piece, editing, revising, and polishing their essay, and then posting it on their very own blog.

In August, Mariya taught her favorite subject to 3rd through 7th graders: mathematics. For three weeks, she worked with teacher-identified "academically weak" students in small focus groups. This setting allowed students to get plenty of teacher attention - better understanding and learning the material. To her surprise, the "weak" students were math whizzes! They weren’t actually weak in the math subject; rather they lacked personal attention, hindering their learning.

At the end of her internship, she donated a netbook laptop, purchased with a mini-grant award from the Davis Fund, to the school.

Read these amazing essays and more about Mariya’s experience.

Preston Public Interest Career Fund requires you to work for an organization that serves the needs of the underserved or disadvantaged. You must have a specific project that you will work on for the organization. This grant is open to all 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year students.  For more information visit Bowdoin Career Connections.

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My internship gave me valuable experience that I know will be helpful in my career goal of international diplomacy. I learned that the power to educate is the power to change. Education and knowledge guarantee the wonderful power to bring positive change to a place that is desperate for some.
— Mariya Ilyas '13