Graduate School

Bank Street Around the World: International Education

Posted by Nick Gray on December 04, 2012

Study Abroad MoroccoOn November 29, Bank Street College held a panel discussion, Opportunities in International Education, to bring together the different experiences of Bank Street staff and alumni to inform current students and educators who are thinking of working or traveling abroad.

Dr. David Penberg (’84)—whose teaching and leadership experience has brought him to Bogota, Guangzhou, Mexico City, and Barcelona—moderated the discussion. Dr. Penberg impressed upon the audience how “teaching and living abroad broadens how we think about and approach learning and teaching anywhere."

"The extended cross cultural experience," he explained, "is akin to taking a cold shower every morning...when outside of your own culture, you develop a laser-like vision for understanding your own culture, and everything we often take for granted.”

David Penberg, Panelists- Beth Norford, Debbie Kurtzberg, Stan ChuLeft to right: David Penberg, moderator; panelists Beth Norford, Debbie Kurtzberg, Stan Chu. Melanie Okadigwe (not shown) joined online from Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Four Bank Street alumni participated on the panel, each of whom has experienced the impact of teaching around the world:

  • Stan Chu (’72) is the Director of two general education master's programs for assistant teachers in the Graduate School. He has worked around the world, most recently providing professional development in Nepal.
  • After practicing law for 22 years, Debbie Kurtzberg switched to teaching and earned her master’s from Bank Street in 2009. Most recently, she served as Director of a primary school in Beijing.
  • Beth Norford (’89) has created a non-profit corporation – Educational Alternatives Worldwide (EAW) - offering consultancy, training, and support to organizations throughout the world that wish to implement progressive pedagogy. She has worked in India, West Africa, and Nepal.
  • Melanie Okadigwe (’08) has been working in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, since 2008, currently as a reading specialist at a local speech and language center in Tortola. She is considering her next move, either back to the US or to another country.
Panel Moderator Dr. David Penberg
Panel Moderator David Penberg

In recent years, Bank Street students have found several ways to get involved in meaningful global work to build upon their studies. In summer 2011, for example, two students teamed up with faculty member Virginia Casper to research and propose a child care assessment tool in South Africa. Some students also choose to study abroad as part of their Integrative Masters Project.

Bank Street graduate students join with interested educators across the country on one- to two-week educational travel experiences open to all. In Spring 2013, for example, Bank Street will host a study program in Morocco. A similar trip in 2008 inspired Okadigwe to work abroad after speaking with two fellow students who were moving abroad for the coming school year.

Has a trip abroad inspired your teaching and learning? Tell us about it in the comments section below.