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Pollard educator heading to Zimbabwe for social studies

CHAPEL HILL — Margaret B. Pollard Middle School teacher Darlene Smith is joining a Go Global NC delegation traveling in June 2022 to Zimbabwe to study historical and cultural sites, diverse education systems and wildlife.

Local organizations in that region are harnessing commerce, conservation, community and culture to spread ecotourism and protect the treasured flora and fauna of the area, and Smith — she teaches sixth-grade social studies — will take notes. The program will emphasize the global challenges of immigration, health care and poverty. Smith and the other participants will look at how those challenges impact education, conservation and economics in that region, and they’ll consider what it means for North Carolina.

“As a lateral-entry teacher, I understand the value of not only experience but experiences,” Smith said. “Participating in this program will help me develop a new understanding of the crucial relevance between our two cultures, which, in turn, I can relay to my students, colleagues and greater community.”

Like Zimbabwe, the history of North Carolina includes colonization by the British Empire. Smith and the delegates will learn how Zimbabwe emerged from colonial rule and how its history is reflected in art, culture and daily life.

Geographically, both North Carolina and Zimbabwe offer noteworthy landscapes and wildlife. 

 “The Victoria Falls  experience will enhance my personal and professional understandings, taking me into the heart of the beginnings of human existence, providing invaluable insight into the very first civilizations,” Smith said. “Studying both the historical and modern-day experiences of this region will aid me in my own perspectives, tying the past to the present and enable me to make this experience more relevant and credible to my students.”

This is professional development, so Smith will explore educational offerings throughout the region, taking in methods of curriculum delivery to a variety of communities. She and the delegates will analyze the successes and disparities in closing academic achievement gaps.

“This type of opportunity is life changing,” said Pollard educator Dawn Streets, who participated in the program during a 2011 China trip. “This is a great accomplishment and opportunity.”

Posted May 18, 2021