Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Teaching Abroad: Student Barbara Doyle volunteers in Malawi

Posted: July 7, 2015

Teaching Abroad: Student Barbara Doyle volunteers in Malawi Doyle, front row, second from left.

“We have seen the beauty of the landscape, and the genuine generosity of the people, but also the harsh reality of how impoverished these people are,” Undergraduate Student Barbara Doyle wrote in a blog on her last day in Malawi.

Doyle is part of a group of 13 U-M engineering students that recently spent 6 weeks volunteering as teachers and tutors for secondary school students in Phalombe, Malawi. Doyle explains that the school system in Phalombe is based on memorization and regurgitation.

“It was interesting to form relationships with the students and see how absolutely brilliant they were. They asked deeper questions regarding the concepts and the actual meaning of the content, instead of the usual copy-and-repeat method they’ve used before. It was amazing to see them making the most out of their situation, and genuinely trying to learn as much as they could,” Doyle wrote about her experience with the school.

After the teachers saw how the U-M students were engaging the younger students, the teachers expressed an interest using those methods in their future lessons. The teachers also recognized that the U-M students could help the special needs students in Malawi connect to resources in the USA.

“It was so inspiring to see that the teachers have realized their mistakes, and are willing to improve so these students can have a chance at a good life. That is one of the most significant effects we could have hoped for, and is a very important step in the right direction,” Doyle wrote.

“Although I am sad to leave, I know that with our departure comes the opportunity for our passion and drive to fuel us to make significant strides to help our wonderful new friends…I truly believe we can make a big difference for the community. The future is bright and hopeful, and I can’t help but smile at the endless possibilities ahead of us.”

To read the full blog post, please click here.

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