All Educators Should have an Experience Abroad

“You learned that we all want same things for our students: to grow up to be happy, healthy adults.”

Dr. Quincey Farmer found himself walking the halls of a rural school outside Pucón, Chile, 4,800 miles from Forest View Elementary School in Durham, where he is vice principal.

“All educators should have an experience abroad,” Farmer said. “To be able to approach all students, you have to have a frame of reference outside yourself. You need to get out of your box — wear other people’s shoes, eat with them, talk with them — to have appreciation for another culture.”

Farmer was part of a delegation of North Carolina educators from across the state who traveled with us to Chile in summer of 2023. In addition to exploring Chile’s culture and education systems, our Global Teachers had the opportunity to collaborate with one another to implement global education and perspectives in North Carolina classrooms

Farmer has used his experience with Go Global NC to build relationships with his Spanish-speaking parents. Roughly 300 of the 650 students in his school speak Spanish as their first language. Many are from Mexico, South America, and Central America.

“I use it as a bragging tool when my parents come into school,” Farmer said. “I tell everyone, ‘Hey, I’ve been to Chile!’” In turn, parents are excited and feel a new connection because, “You thought enough of our country to go there.”

Farmer said his Chile experience gave him greater insight into the history, art, and spiritualism of Hispanic culture. He also saw poverty and gained a deeper understanding of the journey that immigrants take to get the U.S. and why they value education so deeply.

Since returning to North Carolina, Farmer has redoubled efforts to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for all students.

“I need to make sure that my school is culturally responsive, welcoming to all students, that my families feel welcome and that we see them as people.”

Farmer will always remember the many firsts he saw in Chile – black sand, an active volcano, eating a street vendor’s completo (a long hotdog topped with garlic mayo and avocado), a colorful 17-story art mural completely covering one side of an apartment building – but one of the most important things he found was a sameness.

“You learned that we all want same things for our students: to grow up to be happy, healthy adults.”