Faculty Amir Hasan Abdullah
5th Grade Teacher
HOW HAS TEACHING ABROAD AS WELL AS YOUR VOLUNTEER WORK INFLUENCED/IMPACTED THE WAY IN WHICH YOU TEACH?
My teaching experiences abroad have greatly influenced the way I teach today. While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, where I taught environmental education and educational theater, I learned how to be a resilient and resourceful teacher. During my service, the schools I worked with were in rural low-income communities. And, oftentimes, these schools lacked essential resources such as clean water, electricity, and textbooks—all of which made teaching and learning difficult. In order to meet the needs of my students, I had to adapt quickly and get creative with what we had. I knew my students loved to dance and play games, so it made perfect sense to teach with an interactive approach—through theater. With the help of my fellow volunteers and teachers, we organized an educational theater group called Gringuisimo; in which we traveled to rural areas to perform plays and promote conversations about issues ranging from public health to the environment. It was a fun and effective way to both teach and learn as a community. And, as a teacher, I learned to always be flexible and creative, no matter how many or few resources I have to play with.
My teaching experiences both domestic and abroad have also taught me to be more open to identifying the social-emotional needs of my students. In South Africa, my students came from the townships, where they faced many social injustices, such as health inequities and extreme poverty. They would bring their emotional truths to school, which often made learning difficult. And, rather than ignoring these truths, we chose to speak from the heart and have a mindful dialogue on issues affecting our mental and physical health. During these moments of counsel, we were one as a community, rising above adversity. In South Africa, they call this shared compassion, Ubuntu, a way of life which roughly translates to I am, because you are. I feel teaching provides this unique opportunity to create such moments of oneness and humanity. And, I feel privileged to have had these diverse experiences, which have positively influenced how I navigate the world, and how I engage with my students—always with an open heart.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST INSPIRING ABOUT TEACHING?
I am always inspired by those “aha” moments, those moments of exploration and perseverance. When I witness my students take risks, make mistakes, and confidently learn from their mistakes, it makes me smile and proud to be their teacher.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE CAMPBELL HALL COMMUNITY?
What I love most about the Campbell Hall community is that it provides resources and safe spaces for teachers and students to have creative dialogues on issues that impact us daily, both spiritually and physically. As an advocate for social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion work, I was thrilled that Campbell Hall recognized the need for affinity groups in the elementary school. I believe it is so important for everyone to be seen and heard, to speak your truths unapologetically, and to celebrate what makes us unique—which is what these safe spaces provide.