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My experiences as a teacher in Africa have been the single-most influential part of my professional development. Still only 25, I have already spent many years cultivating a professional demeanor and excellent communications skills. While an undergraduate student, for example, I spent two years as a Resident Hall Advisor, enforcing school policies and resolving conflicts, laboring to maintain a healthy learning environment for 30 residents and also planning and organizing community events.
With the Peace Corps in Mozambique, I taught Biology in Portuguese to approximately 1100 secondary education students for over three years and was selected to serve as the Chair of the Biology Department. Collaborating with colleagues from the departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, as well as from the Ministry of XXX and XXX, one of my greatest achievements was showing them how to set up, organize, and maintain an Information Technology Laboratory, providing instruction in numerous aspects of information management, from basic computing skills to digital spreadsheets for recording and calculating student grades. In keeping with my feminist consciousness, I also established a youth theater group that focused on male responsibility with respect to the HIV epidemic, helping students to think critically about gender roles and practicing safe sex. For my final year in the Peace Corp, I worked as a liaison between PC volunteers and staff, practicing mediation and facilitating relationships between our organization and Mozambican staff and volunteers. Most of my work was with helping PC volunteers in project planning and implementation and designing future training events, workshops, and conferences devoted to pre-service training, training of trainers, organization of regional meetings, in-service trainings, and project design training. I also coordinated training of the members of PC Mozambique's Peer Support Network with PC XXX's Office of Special Services.
I look forward to focusing my graduate work on African educational systems in particular the promotion of education for women and girls and ways to reform curriculums to incorporate more critical and creative thinking that will lead to more positive and responsible life skills; as opposed to simple short term retention of information needed to pass national examinations. I look forward to a lifetime of learning and education devoted to the promotion of progressive educational initiatives in Africa, working with such organizations as the Peace Corps, the XXX Care International or Save the Children, doing grassroots work in education.
I think that your department should accept me because of my grit and determination. Brought up in a lower-middle-class family, my parents were unable to help me pay for school or my expenses overseas. I have had a job since I was 14, yet still graduated at the top of my high school class and Magna Cum Laude in college. Last year, my sojourn with the Peace Corps ended abruptly when I was terribly injured in a car wreck: fractured vertebra, cracked ribs, and all of the bones in my face broken. I spent a month in the hospital in South Africa before getting approval to leave and finish my recovery in the US. Since returning, I have had 3 more surgeries, still blind in my right eye, I have spent countless hours in rehabilitation. I refuse, however, to allow this to deter me from following my dreams. I am more motivated than ever to acquire the skills that I need to continue to work on behalf of my beloved African people, both they and my accident have profoundly inspired me.
Assisting in the education of Africa is the greatest contribution that I can make to society and the world. I have witnessed the power of education in the lives of both young and old. I have seen the pride in a parent's eyes when their son passes the 10th grade exam on his first attempt and I have heard the joy in a teenager's voice when she helped her own mother study for that same exam. My dreams are to put forward initiatives that encourage the education of women, that promote responsible decisions made by young men and show our youth that through education they can truly become capable of pursuing their own dreams. Even if they live in an oppressive society, through education they can find liberation; that freedom will reveal itself through their heightened ability to communicate, to think clearly and creatively, and to have teachers that inspire them to dignity and to find the courage to persevere against long odds, making their dreams a reality as well.