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April 19, 2005
CONTACT: Ron Podell 734.487.4400
ron.podell@emich.edu

Eurasian educators partner with EMU for citizenship education, school administration experience

YPSILANTI - Last fall, it was the Ukrainians. This spring, it's the Eurasians.

Eastern Michigan University is currently hosting a group of 15 Eurasian secondary school directors and two facilitators from Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan who are participating in an internship program in citizenship education and school administration.

Since April 9, the secondary school directors have participated in workshops, cultural and civic activities, visited Lansing and observed schools in the community. At the end of the program April 23, they will present an outline of a project proposal to bring about change in school administration or citizenship education in their regions.

"The basic element is that the participants experience workshops that will help them create a project to transform the administration of their schools and, perhaps, train their teachers to do lessons with students to promote democracy," said Joe Bishop, director of the program.

Bishop, assistant professor of teacher education, and Ella Burton, assistant professor in leadership and counseling, received a $40,800 grant to play host to the Partners in Education Secondary School Directors Program in Citizenship Education and School Administration. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of State and is administered by American Councils for International Education. It is the first year EMU has participated in this program.

During their stay, the educators spend a few hours each day developing their program proposals. Projects can involve students more in schools' decision-making process, increase relations between the school and its community, and develop training programs to help teachers promote democracy through class lessons, Bishop said.

"They are only here for two weeks, so they won't be able to develop the whole thing," Bishop said. "But at least they can get some guidelines from us, improve their ideas and get feedback from us. And then, when they go home, they'll have basically a plan of what to do."

The secondary school directors have found the information they have been exposed to at EMU and in southeastern Michigan very different from what they are familiar with in their home countries.

"Since being in this program, I looked at myself as an administrator from a different perspective and realized that much should be changed," said Oleksandr Biryuk, of Kiev, Ukraine. "I want my teachers to see me as a friend and as a person who suggests ideas, but the choice will be theirs. A teacher must not give students a prepared set of knowledge, but must teach them how to find their own solutions."

"We want to gain knowledge about civic education in practice," said Vanda Ivasyuk from Berdichev, Ukraine, the principal of secondary school #15. Her school specializes in economy, ecology, foreign languages and civic education. "We want to see how American secondary schools work and compare them with ours."

"I think it's important that people everywhere organize educational systems to promote democratic citizenship in their young people," Bishop said. "I think it's the most equitable arrangement to have a democratic society where everybody participates; where everybody has the same rights, responsibilities and freedoms; and where everybody can make a positive contribution to society."

To help the Eurasian educators better understand this concept, Bishop organized workshops that were based on professors' expertise in the areas of multicultural and anti-racial education, diversity in school, law issues, and administrative questions on how schools are organized in the United States.

The participants were chosen on the basis of their application and interview; their understanding of citizenship education and what work their schools are conducting in that arena.

EMU professors also have gained their share of knowledge from the experience.

"I became incredibly aware of the importance for American schools to increase opportunities for our students to take courses in world languages," Burton said.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed I their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.

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Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.


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