Project Overseas offers ideal professional development

February 9, 2018
By Nicole Turcotte, Holy Rosary High School

The resilience and resourcefulness of these teachers in Togo left a lasting impression with visiting teachers from Canada.

Have you ever wondered about teaching conditions in other countries? Do you have the desire to help other teachers learn new ways of teaching? If so, you may want to consider volunteering for Project Overseas. This joint endeavour between the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and provincial/ territorial teacher organizations allows the opportunity to provide professional development to teachers in developing countries during the months of July and August.

The first Project Overseas team travelled to Nigeria in 1962. Since then, over 1,800 Canadian teachers have participated and have trained approximately 92,500 teachers around the world.

This year, teams of Canadian teachers were sent to nine different countries in the Caribbean and Africa. I had the pleasure of travelling to Togo with three other educators from British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec. Together with members of the Togolese Teacher Trade Unions and the Fédération des Syndicats de l’Éducation Nationale, we provided professional development in the areas of literacy, mathematics, science and classroom management to approximately 100 participants. In addition, participants attended sessions on gender equity in education and HIV.

Personally, participating in Project Overseas ranks among the best professional development opportunities that I have ever encountered as an educator. I benefited from participating in the presentations of my colleagues and improved my own presentation skills. Surpassing this, I was struck by the resilience and resourcefulness of the Togolese teachers, many of whom work with 60 to 100 students per class and limited resources. We continually discussed ways in which teachers could adapt the strategies or create resources from local materials. It was humbling to work with such dedicated professionals.

A few particular highlights of my experience were the cultural exchanges that took place during the Canadian and Togolese nights each week. We enjoyed games, food and activities that highlighted the cultures of our nations. It was both an opportunity to share what makes Canada unique and for us to learn about the various traditions and regions of Togo. In addition, on the final day of each week, we spent the afternoon sightseeing. All in all, the experience was enriching–personally and professionally. I highly recommend participating in Project Overseas.