Preparing Teacher Education Candidates To Connect Across Cultures

Yooyeun Hwang, Ph.D. | Professor of Education Susan Cherup, M.A. | Arnold & Esther Sonneveldt Professor of Education

At Hope, the course Encounter with Cultures heightens teacher education candidates’ understanding of how ethnicity, culture and gender play out in day-to-day life. Later, when as teachers they relate to students whose lives can be radically different from their own, they draw on the critical thinking they learned about racism in America and the impact of the course’s array of cross-cultural experiences that took them into new, sometimes uncomfortable, contexts — from their first Chinese meal to experiences in a church or a neighborhood they might not otherwise have ventured into. Dr. Yooyeun Hwang has taught the class for 23 years, and Professor Susan Cherup for six.

Dr. Hwang: Future teachers need not just intellectual learning, but also a social experience to develop a moral understanding of human relations, which will motivate them to learn about others. It opens their eyes to how some people are more privileged — have more power or less power ­— more money – more opportunity.

Professor Cherup: For a Hope student who is neither Roman Catholic nor a Spanish speaker, attending a local Holland church which celebrates Mass in Spanish would probably be uncomfortable, not because it would be unwelcoming but because the student is inadequately prepared. These required ‘outside experiences’ will help future teachers in immeasurable ways.