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Pre-Service Teacher Learns to be Global Citizen through Experiences Abroad

College of Education student Kelsi Harris poses in front of the Colosseum in Rome.
College of Education student Kelsi Harris poses in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

When College of Education students leave Poe Hall for the summer, they embark on many different adventures. Some perform research, some take summer classes, and some work internships. This summer, Kelsi Harris spent her break learning to be a citizen of the world.

Harris, a junior elementary education major, spent one month this summer in Florence, Italy, learning about the Italian Renaissance. During her time in Italy, Harris developed her love of history and culture both in and out of the classroom: she explored the different regions of the country on field trips, she learned to cook classic Italian dishes like risotto and chicken cacciatore, and she took a class about the historical significance of the Renaissance.

“Florence is a place that is steeped in history,” Harris said. “You can’t go anywhere without seeing something immensely historical like one of the oldest churches in Italy, or the place where Michelangelo lived.”

Kelsi Harris in Venice
Kelsi Harris in Venice

This wasn’t Harris’s first time studying abroad. Last year, Harris traveled to England to study at Oxford College. She enjoyed her experience so much she decided to travel again this summer to explore the world — and herself.

“Taking yourself out of your comfort zone helps you learn about yourself, and studying abroad is definitely a way to physically get out of your comfort zone,” Harris said. “But being abroad also teaches you how to be a global citizen. We’re not just citizens of Raleigh. We’re citizens of North Carolina, of the United States, of North America and of the world.”

As our world becomes more and more interconnected by technology, Harris recognizes the importance of providing her future students with a globalized education. She thinks her experiences abroad will help her do this.

“As teachers, nothing we do is just for ourselves. I can translate my global experiences to the classroom in a lot of different ways,” Harris said. “I can teach my future students history with a new perspective. I can explain to them how to interact with people from another culture. And I can show them how to be a global citizen.”

So, does this seasoned traveler plan to study abroad again before graduating in May 2019? She hopes to.

“It would be cool to teach in a country with an ideal education system like Finland,” Harris said. “I’d love to do my student teaching there and bring back some of their best practices!”