Bourne and her team sought to invest in a Tanzanian community by creating school books in Swahili and English for a Tanzanian classroom, but the investment —to the Canadian classroom—is just getting started.
It is hard to imagine the petite woman with sun-kissed hair and trendy blue capris anywhere except in the Okanagan. The one clue that Cindy Bourne has been involved in international work on the other side of the world is a colourful Tanzanian bracelet.
Bourne is the manager of the Learning Resources and Support team at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and a member of Project G.R.O.W, a community development project in Ghana—all while she completes her PhD.
Bourne is conducting her PhD research on the development of policy and practice around sustainable and ethical international student experiences. She hopes to develop a model for application in student experiences abroad—a goal made especially relevant due to the rising popularity of the international experience as a component of undergraduate programs.
The push for international service means more students are heading abroad to volunteer, but as Bourne says, “If you are going to use the resources in an economically-challenged area, you best be there to do something of value.” She hopes through her educational model to ensure the value of the experience belongs, first and only, to the community. Student experience is an added benefit.
Bourne’s passion for education is obvious as she discusses the systemic problems with “volun-tourism” and the lure for the exotic student experience.
Her resume is defined by education. She has pursued the scholarship of teaching and learning for the last 16 years. And she just returned from Africa, where she was the teacher assistant who took seven teacher candidates completing their education degree requirements in the Guided Reflective Inquiry Project (GRIP), a program offered by the Faculty of Education.
An important part of the model, Bourne says, is the preparation before the trip to ensure it is sustainable and culturally relevant. While Bourne describes preparation for the GRIP experience as “double the work” for the teacher candidates—which included Swahili lessons beforehand—the level of readiness maximizes the positive impact on both the community and the teacher candidates.
The project in this experience was the development of culturally relevant books that addressed community literacy concerns. Bourne says that while the benefits to the community should be first priority, the impact on the students is very important. The teacher candidates gained valuable insight and experience in watching a Tanzanian teacher “making learning happen with only one blackboard, chalk and 65 kids.”
The GRIP teacher candidates returned with an enriched perspective and left behind the three books they created in Swahili, with English translation.
Cindy Bourne‘s model will shape the future experiences of students abroad. But for now, you can find Bourne shaping the complex scheduling of the tutoring and Supplemental Learning programs.
— 30 —