CP Reflection Week 8

Ugh. I was doing so well!

But then I got wrapped up doing lesson planning, grocery shopping, and housecleaning. I knew I'd need to post something before heading to game night with some friends, if I was going to post anything.

Unfortunately, time slipped away from me.

Suddenly it was after 1am, and I was tired. So...no blog post on Saturday.

This past week was Cultural Field Experience (CFE) at my school. What is CFE you might ask? It's an opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone and broaden their cultural experience. I student teach at a private, Christian school, which probably says something about our student population. For many of the students, their lives have been relatively sheltered.

CFE is an opportunity to reach out to the community - opening their eyes to what else is out there.

From the school website...
The intentions of real-life learning are:
  • To promote an understanding of another’s life and point of view
  • To provide opportunities for students to discover their God-given gifts
  • To develop compassionate and globally-minded citizens
  • To equip students with a willingness to give of themselves in service to God and others
Seniors aren't required to participate (though some do attend the international trips), but all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors do something for CFE.

Some examples of the various site options included:
  • Assisting at a Sommali-immersion early-childhood development center
  • Assisting in an elementary school serving Spanish-speaking students
  • Preparing / serving meals and interacting with residents at a transitional shelter and food shelf
  • Working with adults with developmental disabilities at Shepherds Ministries in Milwaukee
  • Working with Urban Homeworks in Minneapolis doing demolition, construction, painting, yard work, etc during the day and participating in poverty discussion and service learning in the evenings.
  • Interacting with residents at a Jewish senior citizen residential care center
  • Visiting a variety of religious places of worship
There were also options to visit Greece (Latin class), France (French class), Slovakia (Band). I also know some students went to Florida (Choir), Colorado, or Kentucky. I couldn't really find any details on those trips on the school website.

I was an Assistant Team Leader with another teacher. We took a group of 12 students to the American Indian and World Cultures (no link because it's closing at the end of this school year) magnet schools. Our students worked, individually, in a classroom of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd graders. Since they were in a classroom on their own, I think it really forced them to step out of their comfort zone and interact with the kids. They helped in the classrooms with reading, math, and other activities. They ate lunch with the students and played with them during recess.

For the most part, I think the students enjoyed their time there, and I know the elementary students enjoyed having high school students around.

Our students were surprised by:
  • the language some of them used
  • how much energy they had
  • how smart they were but also how little they applied themselves to their learning
  • how common it was that they didn't live with both a mom and a dad
  • how hungry some of the students seemed during lunch (i.e. cleaning their entire trays for lunch, including practically eating the chicken bones one day)
I think some eyes were definitely opened.

As a leader at this particular site, it was a little dull for me. We didn't want to interrupt the classes too much, so we just made the rounds a couple times of day. Mostly we just sat and chatted, did some minimal lesson planning, graded tests, etc.

We spent Mon-Thu on-site and then had a 1/2 day reflection retreat on Friday. It was neat to hear about the different experiences the students had.

I think this is an invaluable opportunity for high school students. While they may not appreciate it to the fullest extent, I truly believe that each student walks away from the experience being impacted in at least one small way.

I think it's an excellent opportunity, and I wish it was more feasible at more schools.

What do you think of this opportunity? If you have children, would you want your school to offer / require something like this?

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