A few weeks back, I was approached by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) at Michigan State University to present at a middle school. The presentation requests were made through the International Speakers Program (iSpeak program) and I was asked if I could present on Mauritius, the country in which I was born and raised. Mason Middle School was having me and two other natives from Africa as guest speakers for the day. We were asked to present to several different grades and classes throughout the day, and this is how our adventure started at Mason Middle School…
Once at Mason Middle School, we had all eyes on us. It was apparent that there was not much diversity at the institution. However, we could tell that most, if not all, of the students were eager to learn more about the countries of Africa and have firsthand information and anecdotes. Coming to a US college from my Mauritian high school, I was myself mesmerized by the appearance and atmosphere of the middle school. There were lockers on both sides of the walls down the hallway, art and crafts on the ceiling, and middle school kids everywhere in the hallway (the first period hadn’t started yet).
Once we started our presentations, the students were excited to know what we had to talk about. We came well prepared with African games, PowerPoint presentations for visuals, and interactive questions to motivate the students’ participation. With all the “wow” and “ohhhh” that we had as responses from the students, we knew they were excited to learn or reaffirm what they learned from their class. The day went by rather fast as the students always had interesting questions to ask. RING! The bell rang and it was already lunch time; Different grades have different lunch breaks. While in the cafeteria, we had different interactions from excited middle schoolers. It was more informal and they felt more comfortable asking questions that were not related to our school experience such as what hobbies do we have, what do my parents do, etc… One thing that I will remember for sure from Mason Middle School is that middle schoolers can sometimes be very hyperactive and overflowing with energy! The second section of the day went by even faster because we got to know several students who were with us at the cafeteria attending our presentations. More interesting questions poured out from those kids’ mouths.
After approximately 150+ students, 8 class periods, and an unforgettable experience at the cafeteria, school came to an end at 2:30 p.m. It was a great experience getting to share our knowledge and anecdotes but more importantly to experience a day in the life of a middle schooler.
For more information about the iSpeak program, please visit this link: http://cvip.isp.msu.edu/speakers/
Mark Chung Kwan Fan is a first-year international graduate student from the island of Mauritius. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Administration at MSU’s College of Education. His interests vary from Latin American culture to student affairs in the context of international education. Mark also serves as Orientation Intern at the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS).