Keisha Helm is a senior early childhood education major in the College of Education. She received a Jepsen International Scholars Program Endowment scholarship to participate in a three-week trip to Taipei, Taiwan, in the summer of 2015.
Through the “Jepsen Challenge,” your donations large and small help aspiring education majors afford to participate in unique study abroad opportunities offered by the College of Education. Alumnus Keith Jepsen ’67, M.S. ’68, and his spouse, Kathleen Dore, will match up to $25,000 in donations made by June 30, 2016, to the Jepsen International Scholars Program Endowment Fund and the College of Education Global Initiatives fund.
Why did you decide to pursue a study abroad opportunity?
I decided to pursue this opportunity because I have never traveled outside of the country and I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone. I also wanted to research the difference between the educational system here in the States versus the educational system in Taiwan. Another aspect that interested me was a chance to travel to different parts of Taiwan, including the cities of Hsinchu, Taitung, Taichung, and a few others.
What kind of impact do you think this experience had on you?
This experience impacted my perspective as a global citizen and as an aspiring educator in so many ways. As a global citizen, I believe that this trip helped me to discover who I truly am as a person—someone who’s accepting and respectful to people of all cultures. I am one who treats people the way that I would like to be treated. As an educator, I have the same motto. In my own classroom one day, there might be 20 students who are same age but as a teacher, I know that each and every one of those students are unique in their own way and I’ll take the time to truly get to know and understand my students.
What’s one of the experiences you had in Taiwan that you know you’ll never forget?
To be honest, the whole three weeks that I spent in Taiwan was a memorable experience for me, but if I were to narrow it down, my most memorable experience was when I went hiking with my host mom. I remember arriving at the top of the mountain and was stunned by the breathtaking view; it was a moment that I wish lasted forever.
What are some of the things you learned from a strategic standpoint that you will incorporate into your teaching?
I had the opportunity to learn about many different methods and strategies that can be used in the classroom, but I really enjoyed learning how to incorporate technology in the classroom. As children today are exposed to a lot of technology, I want to use their technological experiences and bring them into the classroom.
What does the Jepsen Scholarship mean to you?
The funding that I received from the Jepsen International Scholarship was a blessing and meant the absolute world to me! Without the Jepsen Scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to have the experience of a lifetime, which I am so truly thankful for!
Why would you recommend this experience to other aspiring educators?
I believe that it is so important for educators to receive a study abroad experience! I am an early childhood education major, and I was able to interact with kids of all ages, and I was able to observe many different K–8 classrooms. I also believe that it’s important to research the educational systems in other parts of the world and compare them to the United States because an educator (like myself) might want to incorporate methods that they’ve learned from another country into their own classroom one day!