MUSCATINE, Iowa–While many people dream of taking a big vacation once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, two Muscatine Community School District teachers will have the opportunity of a lifetime to visit an international destination of their choice through the Stanley Center for Peace and Security’s Catherine Miller Explorer Awards. Recipients Madison Elementary 2nd grade teacher Kelsey Meier and Franklin Elementary 5th grade teacher Trisha Weeks will get to engage in their selected study abroad program either this year or in 2022.
Though Meier has only traveled outside of the United States once, she has always looked for more opportunities to travel and to learn more about different cultures. Planning to travel in 2022, Meier hopes to visit either South Africa or a South American country. Though vastly different parts of the world, she feels studying in ether would help her provide unique insights into the material she teaches. If Meier traveled to South Africa, she feels she would benefit from seeing the ecosystems there firsthand: “In second grade, a big focus in the science curriculum is learning about animal habitats and adaptations. I’d love to be able to see African animals in their natural habitats so that I can bring that experience back to my students.” In a different vein, if Meier went to South America, she could continue to improve her Spanish.
For Weeks, getting to learn about a completely new location and culture has led her to apply for a Catherine Miller Explorer Award. Using the opportunity afforded to her, she hopes to learn firsthand about either the Galapagos Islands or Thailand. “Whether I travel to the Galapagos Islands or Thailand, my goal is the same, learn as much as I can about the people, culture, ecosystems, and other scientific aspects of the countries,” she shared. Weeks then detailed: “I have wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands for quite some time; the islands have so much biodiversity and have plant and animal life that you won’t find anywhere else in the world,” adding, “Thailand is home to many religious temples and monuments that I am very interested in learning more about.”
As these two teachers plan to grow their knowledge through this special opportunity, the Stanley Center hopes to increase awareness and participation in its local education programs by uniting them under the name Global Education at the Stanley Center. By unifying the Catherine Miller Explorer Awards and other events for teachers, the Inclusive Dialogue series, and assistance to Muscatine High School Model UN, under a single brand, the Stanley Center hopes more people will learn about their programs and benefit from their global foci.
“The term Global Education has various definitions, but at the heart, it focuses on the interconnectedness of local and global issues while encouraging the exploration and appreciation of perspectives and worldviews of others,” said Krista Regennitter, Program Officer for Global Education. “These skills empower people of all ages to move beyond their comfort zone, learn about others, and appreciate diversity—abilities that are needed in our globalized world.”