Teacher’s Two Weeks in Zimbabwe Enrich Alamance County Classroom

It took Chris Doi a good eight months to process what he’d gained from our Global Teachers Zimbabwe program. “The greatest professional development experience I’ve ever been a part of,” is how he describes it, “something that touches me on a daily basis.”

Ubuntu, the African notion of shared humanity, is the overarching life lesson that sticks with him. There is no direct translation for Ubuntu, but it’s often described as “I am because you are; I am because we all are.”

He saw this play out time and time again on the ground in Zimbabwe: “People had so much pride, they were eager to learn and to help each other out.”

In his middle school world history classroom, he tells his North Carolina students, “If somebody is getting bullied, we’re all getting bullied. If someone in the classroom doesn’t feel safe, none of us feels safe. We all need to stand up for each other. We’re in it together.”

His notions about the meaning of “wealth” changed greatly during his experience. Doi explained that In Zimbabwe, wealth is not only measured in dollars and cents, but in knowledge, friendship, and skill.

“On the flight there I was preparing myself to see people struggling in poverty,” Doi said. Instead, he found that Zimbabwe’s rich, vibrant culture and commitment to cooperation and collaboration is truly a kind of wealth.

“Most people I interacted with were happy and thriving, living lives that are different to the typical American, but still living well,” Doi said “This is an eye-opening experience for many Westerners.”   

In Zimbabwe, Chris found many threads of similarity in teaching and learning. Students there struggled with many of the same issues as children in America: hunger, attention issues, and inequity. Teachers he met in Zimbabwe shared an eagerness to help their students learn, regardless of their environment. Some were in urban areas with many advantages; others were in remote, rural areas with what many Westerners would consider very meager resources.

Casual conversation among educators led to one ubiquitous challenge: teacher pay. One teacher host shared that he made cleaning supplies to supplement his income, and Chris shared that in North Carolina, he relies on refereeing soccer matches as his side hustle.

Doi believes in the power of traveling abroad to strengthen teaching. “If you don’t have an experience like I had, you can see how different things are, but not how similar things are. It comes full circle, and that’s the beauty and the magic of the (Global Teachers) program.”

Local television coverage of the Global Teachers program to Zimbabwe

Television station WGHP featured Alamance-Burlington School System Teachers of the Year Chris Doi and Kelly Poquette in their coverage of our Global Teachers program to Zimbabwe.

Visit the WGHP Site