Students were political canvassers, escape room artists, physicists, fashionistas, inventors, thought leaders, collaborators, activists, change agents, and boat builders, among many other identities, during Project Week 2019.
By Zachariya Trichas '19
After my maternal grandmother passed away from cancer in 2008, my family decided to start a foundation (The International Foundation for Progress) and build a school, "The Tahira Educational Grammar School," in her memory, because education was very important to her. The school is located in Dubban Pura, a slum of Lahore, Pakistan, and provides free education to 175 impoverished children as well as free healthcare to the children, their families, and the local community. These children would not be able to attend school otherwise. When I was growing up, it was always something that I was proud of, yet I tried to reconcile my feelings of wanting to help out more, but being unable to do so, seeing as they were on the other side of the globe and I was just a kid.
It wasn't until I became a math tutor that I realized what impact I could have. My experience as a tutor at Mathnasium, a local tutoring franchise, taught me a lot about pedagogy and how important it is to be armed with a strategy when teaching.
I learned that distance did not need to be an obstacle to learning, and I had the ability to positively affect the lives of hundreds of children. Armed with this knowledge, I spent my summer working on a project to send overseas to the school. I took a free online course in utilizing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) effectively and compiled over 80 slides of teaching material for the teachers to use at the school. In addition, I took a course in Urdu at Kean University so that I could translate the lesson plans for the teachers. The course was an intense 120-plus hours of learning Urdu. To start every day, we Skyped with students in Pakistan. By paying attention to my peers and the students, I began to recognize words and expand my vocabulary.
Another focus of the course was education equity, a major issue in the region. Those familiar with the area are likely aware of the importance of education in Pakistan. Pillars of education such as Malala Yousafzai have inspired countless young girls to pursue their education despite any obstacles they may face. With the emergence of globalization and increasing competition, education is crucial for Pakistan's progress and survival. Prosperity depends on the quality of education. The rate of literacy, especially among women, remains low. A weak economy, poverty, and the influence of extremism are a direct result of a fractured, if not broken, educational system.
The lesson plans I developed covered a variety of math topics including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, profit/loss, units of measurement, algebra, geometry, and graphing. After finishing the slides and lesson plans, I decided that I needed expert opinions, so I contacted my previous teachers and advisors, Mr. Buckley and Mr. Joujan, who luckily happened to be math teachers. They gave me incredibly insightful feedback on how students needed long periods of exposure in order to retain information, so that's when I decided to create worksheets in order to reinforce the material. By the time I was done, I had amassed nearly 150 pages of material.
At this point, I decided that I could compile this content into a book. The book and ebook, Professor Zach's K-5 Math Curriculum, published by iUniverse (ISBN # 9781532058349 and 978153205856) last summer, will be introduced to the Tahira Educational Grammar School through printed as well as ebooklets and video tutorials, and via live webcasts/video presentations. The book is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
The school, and the adjoining free medical clinic, has been visited by the U.S. Consulate and sponsored by KFC, Rotary Club, and the Cyte Foundation, who recently awarded them as one of the "Best Managed" schools in Pakistan. It is now the subject of a documentary on education in Pakistan. The sense of pride and accomplishment this project brought to me has been immensely satisfying, and, through my work, I hope to inspire others to have a global impact.
Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer