Wheelock-Singapore Partnership Creates Strong Bonds

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Wheelock Prof. Ellen Faszewski partners with Wheelock’s Center for International Programs and Partnerships (CIPP) to teach an inquiry-based course titled “Field Studies in Environmental Science” to students visiting from Wheelock’s Singapore campus. The course introduces general principles of environmental science using a variety of activities such as field trips, lab investigations, and class discussions.  

Prof. Faszewski and her two undergraduate teaching interns offered the following reflections about their experiences with the Singapore students.

Prof. Ellen Faszewski with students from Singapore
Prof. Ellen Faszewski with students from Singapore

Reflections from Prof. Ellen Faszewski:

Through this course, students have opportunities to examine various topics, including the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science, current environmental issues (both in Singapore and Boston), and studies of local ecosystems.

My involvement in this Program was a first for me in several ways. I was given the wonderful opportunity to work alongside other dedicated Wheelock faculty and staff, discovering first-hand the enjoyment of working with Wheelock Singapore. The students are so culturally diverse, dedicated, hard-working, and enthusiastic!! Not only was it my first time teaching a class filled entirely with international students, it was my first at teaching a field-based course to over 60 students! Luckily for me, I have been able to work with some wonderful interns/teaching assistants whom I now call my colleagues (see student reflections below).  Through the intensive two week period, we have immersed ourselves in teaching and learning about the environment around us and making connections as to how we can help our students translate these experiences into their future professions as early childhood educators.

This has been such a wonderful learning opportunity for me in so many ways. To begin, I have been introduced to a part of the world that I know very little about — a nation filled with diversity in culture, religions, economic and educational backgrounds. I have been able to gain insight on the educational system of another nation and have learned tremendous amounts from formal and informal educators from Singapore. I have also learned about environmental issues in Singapore, including the stresses that growing human populations place on their local ecosystems and how the government and environmental organizations interact to preserve their environment.

Singapore Program 1In addition, on a more personal level, I have thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with the students outside of the classroom. I have a vast array of memorable experiences, with some of my favorites including hiking down the ski slope at Blue Hills Reservation while students sing, jumping in the air with the students during photo shoots, and sharing the tradition of singing “Sweet Caroline” at Boston Red Sox games. I look forward to the arrival of the new cohort of Wheelock-Singapore this summer!

Reflections from Allie Goyette, Wheelock student intern

Three short years ago I started my Wheelock journey. Today, I can’t imagine a life without meeting the inspiring faculty and professors that have helped me in thousands of ways. It was through their support and encouragement that I applied to intern with the Wheelock CIPP (Center for International Programs and Partnerships) Singapore program working alongside a Professor I greatly admire. When I learned I was accepted into the program, I could never have imagined the impact it would leave on me.

Allie Goyette and Singapore students on a hike
Allie Goyette and Singapore students on a hike

My first year, the other interns and I met the girls at the airport.  After several flights and travel time totaling over 20 hours, the students still managed to be incredibly excited walking out of the gate to the sign we were holding, “Welcome Wheelock-Singapore!!!”

The anticipation on the bus ride to Wheelock was palpable. Yellow school buses, old buildings; there were so many things the students took pictures I never thought twice about. When we arrived at school, we had a brief orientation with CIPP Director Lauren Thorman and Dean Dr. Linda Davis to talk about the basics of Boston and dorm life. As I watched their tired but eager faces fill the room, I turned to Lauren and said, “This is the best day of my life.”

The following two years, I was fortunate to continue working with the Program. Last summer, I said good-bye to the last group of students I was fortunate enough to intern with (due to graduation). I am immensely grateful for my work experience, but more so for the opportunity to meet so many truly inspiring people. I have learned so much about values, respect, and most of all, friendship.  From each of the three cohorts I’ve worked with, there is a bit of my heart over in Singapore with some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

Reflections from Kenji Gueldner, Wheelock student intern

Born and raised in Asia, I call Singapore my home due to the fact that my greatest life experiences had taken place there.  While growing up in Singapore, it had become apparent to me that I was destined to become an elementary school teacher.  It had all begun when my sister and I started a small community baby-sitting service that soon turned into a full-on tutoring service.  Both my sister and I had put much of our time and effort into creating this service, which sadly was abruptly ended when we found out that we would be moving to Shanghai, China.  My dad’s job had given me the opportunity to explore not only Singapore and Shanghai, but also the rest of the world.  Diving, working on marine research ships and working with rescue units all had opened the door for my passion with environmental sciences.  My fondest memory was when I got to work for the STOP program in Malaysia and where my story really begins.

Student interns Kenji and Allie prepare for class
Student interns Kenji and Allie prepare for class

The Sea Turtles Outreach Program was my first experience with the conservation of oceanic species.  Through the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, I was given the chance to work with a beach hatchery and taught how to conduct field research and data analysis.  The program was 3 months long, whereby I lived and slept just feet from green sea turtle that were coming day and night to lay their eggs.  Sheltering the eggs till they hatched was my life for those 3 months, but it was the most rewarding experience in my life thus far.  Coming into college I already knew that I was going to become an elementary school teacher — what can I say it’s in my blood.  Once in college, there was always this missing feeling inside me, but I never really knew what it was.  It wasn’t the hankering for playing sports or joining an a cappella group, but rather something more fulfilling.  So I did what any college student would do at the time and explored.  I didn’t just explore the United States, I went beyond that.  I decided to take a trip with my brother, who was originally a marine biology major, to the Philippines for a two-week diving vacation/work on a marine research vessel.  The best part of this was that we had the task of tagging and tracking Thresher sharks, which I consider the most bubbly shark I’ve ever had the experience of handling with my hands.  As soon as the work began it was over and I was back on a plane to college.  I fulfilled the missing piece to my being, but I still wanted to be an elementary school teacher.  This lead me to become involved in the fields of environmental sciences.

​This past summer, my prior experiences both personally and professionally gave me the opportunity to join an international program for teaching environmental systems and sciences to early childhood education students from Singapore.  I would have to say that I knew these students even before they knew me.  What more could I have asked for, but to teach those who come from a place I call home about a subject area that I have been passionate about ever since I took my first breath underwater? With the students, I was able to bring my passions to life, working hand in hand with them to develop the necessary skills in order to assist children in exploring the world around them.  Shy at first, the students became more and more fascinated by the world around them, striving to want to learn and eventually teach. A quote that will forever be engraved in my mind is, “the ruling passion, be it what it will, the ruling passion conquers reason still.”  I know now what it means to me, but now it’s your chance to redefine it yourself.