By Sarah Plummer
Although in his first year at New River Community and Technical College, Director of Developmental Education Michael Morsches plans to pursue his passion for teaching literacy and English as a Second Language learning in an upcoming trip to Jordan.
Morsches’ January excursion will serve several purposes. He will be the keynote speaker for an ESL conference, speaking on “Motivating Learning and Learner” in addition to working through several organizations to train ESL teachers in Jordanian schools where Palestinian refugees need educational support.
Morsches has previously taught literacy and ESL as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica and Yemen, and has supervised Peace Corps volunteers in Tanzania. He has also done substantial work in the Middle East, in Jerusalem and Jordan, finding educational resources for underprivileged schools.
“Jordan is a safe place, relatively speaking, in the Middle East to invest help and it is a very receptive culture for education help,” he explained.
Many of the programs he will be assisting, he said, offer aid to Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Funding is insufficient and resources are difficult to gather although learning English is an important skill for them, he said. “A lot of the industries and jobs require knowing English. It is important for them to function in a global society,” he said.
Morsches said Arabic to English or English to Arabic language acquisition is “a challenge to teach in the best of circumstances.” He noted that reading left to right instead of vice versa and learning an entirely new alphabet are two difficulties.
“The biggest issue the schools in Jordan have is a lack or resources and language transition training. There are good teachers that just don’t have the teaching resources we have here. It helps the region to know that there are folks from our society, who are not involved in politics, to help them and their children in their education goals with no strings attached,” he said.
While in Jordan for three weeks, Morsches will work with several established agencies including the Queen Rania Teacher Academy, founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah; Amideast, an organization expanding and improving educational opportunities; UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees; and The American Language Center, started by the U.S. Embassy in Amman to provide English language instruction.
In addition to his travels and work with second language learners and ESL teacher training, Morsches hopes to create the connections that will allow New River students to teach in Jordan or to establish an exchange program. “I hope to explore the possibility of creating a course where students would study culture and language and then go over to Jordan to volunteer and work in the school and sight-see as a part of their experience.”
New River President Dr. Ted Spring is excited about the possibility of adding this type of course. “New River is ready to introduce international education to our community college students and Michael is the first link to that opportunity. We are very excited that he is involved in this program and helping us to move forward in our educational program.”
Although the possibility of this program is still an idea in these men’s minds, Morsches points out, “It is very progressive for New River to be thinking about this kind of course, and it would make a great impact and be positive work for the college to be involved with.”
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