Teaching University Students in Bangladesh

Unlike some other teach abroad programs, WorldTeach does not solely cater to the pre-k through 12 demographic, but gives volunteers an opportunity to get involved in higher education and adult learning. Lauren, a WorldTeach Bangladesh volunteer, expresses her excitement and relief at working with an older demographic and the kinship she hopes to feel with her students.

Kids kind of scare me. I love babies but when I’m around kids I clam up. What do I say? Should I be funny? Play the crazy aunt card? Should I just buy them cookies like I would want? The sad truth is, kids are not my forte.

When I began looking at teaching programs abroad, one of the main appeals of the Bangladesh WorldTeach program was that we would be teaching in a university, not a pre k through 12 classroom. I thought the transition from undergrad to teaching assistant at the university would be relatively smooth, calm and doable. Starting this Sunday I will be serving as a teaching assistant to a wonderful professor from Berkeley for her Modern Asian History course. Our readings cover really interesting subjects and she even offered to let me guest lecture throughout the semester. As of now I am preparing to lecture on Katini (an Indonesian feminist) and her work, India and the Partition, and Religion and Community Violence. AHHH I can’t wait to get started with this course. However, some parts of my schedule have moved around…

I am happy to announce that this upcoming Monday, (in addition to my duty as a teaching assistant 20 hours a week), I will be teaching my very own class at the Access Academy at the Asian University for Women !!!

Are you thinking ‘great…but what is the Access Academy?’ Of course you are.

Well, the Access Academy is geared towards preparing women from underprivileged backgrounds to welcome the transition into university life. This is a year-long pre-undergraduate program that helps students prepare for the transition from underprivileged backgrounds (many of the students are daughters of rickshaw drivers, Grameen borrowers, rice harvesters, fisherman) and into university style life.The Access Academy’s aim is to prepare these students academically, socially, technically, and emotionally to progress onto the undergraduate level.

For many of the students this is the first time they have been away from home. This is the first time they have met other students from outside their prospective country, or perhaps even village. These women have literally left everything they have known all of their life at home in order to embark as a student at AUW.

I admire every single one of them.

I will be teaching composition to 15 students from across the South Asian region. My class meets 3 times per week for 90 min each time. I would be lying if I said I was not completely freaking out about this. I have never officially taught in a classroom before and this is going to be the first time I step in front of my very own class.

Speaking with past teachers, the consensus is that ‘you couldn’t ask for better students.’ Teachers in the Academy tell me that every time you enter the room all of the women will stand up and recite ‘hello Miss Lauren’ and they will work harder than any student in the US or UK. The women recognize how important this opportunity is and they will fight to stay at the university.

I can’t believe that I have been awarded this once in a lifetime opportunity to teach my own course. I know that this year is going to teach me things in a whole new light and probably much faster than I have learned something before. Each day in that classroom is going to be a learning experience and a battle with myself to be the best teacher I can be. Because my class size is so small (only 15) I hope that I will also make strong, lasting connections with my students and really get to know them as not only students, but individuals.

Interested in teaching at the university level? Click here for more information on our Bangladesh program!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Nice writing on Teaching University Students in Bangladesh.