An International education service project funded by the Ministry of Education, ROC, has facilitated the cooperation between the Center of Teacher Education at National Taiwan University (NTU CTE) and Palau High School. After two years of planning and five months of intensive training through a university course, a team of one professor and six prospective teachers taught science, math, and hands-on inquiry activities at Palau High School (PHS) from January 30 to February 10, 2023.
This program was the first of its kind between Palau and Taiwan. Professor Hsu, the PI of the program, expressed her gratitude to the Embassy of ROC in Palau for recommending PHS and establishing of the critical contract at the initial stage of the program. She also thanked Principal Rdang of PHS, who has accepted the proposal and designated two excellent teachers, Teacher Noel Reyes and Teacher Earl John Britanico, to guide the planning and the development of science and math courses.
The program was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2022, but postponed to winter 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During fall semester, 2022, the team worked closely with Teacher Noel and Teacher Earl to review the textbook, to complete virtual class observations, to discuss the lesson plans and teaching material, and finally to make suggestions on the practice teaching. In addition, Principal Radng and Teacher Snow (Tunghsueh, Chen), the PHS Mandarin teacher from the Taiwan ICDF, gave talks about the educational system, the school, and the culture of PHS students through Zoom meetings.
During the two weeks teaching at PHS, the six CTE students, Evan Lin, Frieda Chen, Emily Chen, Cleven Lee, Cindy Chen, and Ruby Liu, taught physics, chemistry, and math for juniors and seniors. On two Fridays, they taught six inquiry courses on topics of water pollution and filtration, fishing game and ocean resources, vertical farm and Arduino sensors, pinball champion and two-dimensional motion, calorie calculation, and financial management and self-exploration. They felt that the students were very inquisitive, eager to learn, and had unique talents that can be further developed. During the classes, both PHS teachers were observing and gave the student teachers many suggestions to improve their lessons. The six CTE students felt that they have benefited a great deal. The group also thanked the Taiwan Technical Mission for the seeds and soil used in the vertical farm activity.
In addition to facilitating the teaching activities, Principal Rdang organized activities to provide the CTE teacher and students the opportunity to experience Palau through an exploration of Palau’s oceanic and terrestrial cultures. With the Principal and the teachers as the guides, a trip to Rock Island, the Milky Way, the Shark City, the giant clam, and the trip to Todai, Stone Monoliths, Tree of Life at Ngiwal, the capital, the warrior canoe at Airai and Airai Bai, the CTE team learned about the stunning beauty of Palau and experienced the culture, tradition, and people first hand. Thanks also to the support provided by the Palau’s Ambassador to Taiwan, David Adams Orrukem, and Palau’s Minister of Education, Dale J. Jenkins, for supporting this trip.
Moreover, the Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Palau, Jessica Lee, worked hard to arrange an interview for the prospective teachers on Palau’s national radio station (EPFM) program “Formosa in Belau”. During the program, Ambassador Lee shared Taiwan’s education with the Palauan people and promoted Taiwan’s government scholarships. The professor and prospective teachers shared their experiences and observations in Palau with the audience. The link to the interview is https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=2445206038982270
To teach in a different culture with an American-style curriculum and textbook was indeed a major challenge, but it led to significant growth for the participating CTE students. What was particularly valuable was the opportunity to see the efforts of our government in deepening its relationship with Palau through diplomacy. Building on this positive experience, the prospective teachers were fortunate to receive a sincere welcome and enthusiastic reception from the principal and teachers of the Palau High School. This experience not only helped the prospective teachers make significant progress in their teaching but also left them with a deep appreciation for Palauan culture and traditions, as well as the impressive preservation of marine ecology and stunning ocean views. The team was grateful for the support of the Ministry of Education’s overseas practicum.