Today was the day that we have been working towards for the past two weeks. We as a group, students and teachers, worked together to host a professional development day for local Malawian teachers from the surrounding towns and villages. A total of 32 professional teachers came and we were very eager to hear what we had to say and teach. They requested educational theories, so we taught Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development” and a related theory, “scaffolding.” We wanted this day to be less about us teaching, and more about whole group collaboration.
The day was broken into two sections, a whole group direct instruction and then small group work. The direct instruction was a general introduction about both of the theories, and the groups were discussion based with a more extensive look at each of the theories and how they can be used in the classroom. The session ended with a large group sharing about what everyone had learned, we learned just as much as the local teachers did and not just about Vygotsky’s theories. The Malawian teachers were shocked that “even in America” we teachers struggle to provide resources for our students, at times. To close the workshop, we passed out certificates to all the participants. In Malawian culture having proof of education is a very big deal, the smiles and remarks from the teachers made us realize how important this day was to all of them.
After our very successful day of collaboration we attended a wedding for the family of one of the works in Mtendere. We were all very excited to see a wedding of a different culture; however we were all shocked at how welcoming the bridal party was to us. They did not know us at all, and instantly welcomed us to the wedding. The highlights of the event was dancing down to the aisle to the bride and groom to give them our gifts, it is tradition to dance with the gifts and we were excited to be a part of and welcomed into the culture.