Malcolm Vaughn, a sophomore music education major from Apex, North Carolina, first met Pamela Londono Bonilla and her students through his CI 3531 course Seminar on Teacher Leadership. The course is a requirement for all incoming students who are part of the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES) program.
Bonilla, who is from Cali, Colombia, was part of the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) Fellows program at Appalachian State University, a program comprised of secondary school teachers of English, social studies, math, science, and special education who travel to the U.S. from around the world to engage in a cultural exchange, learn from educators at American universities, and enhance their teaching skills. The fellows come from diverse backgrounds and share a common goal of developing their teaching methodologies but also engaging in cultural exchange. Fulbright TEA is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, administered by IREX.
As part of the course assignment, Vaughn and his classmates were paired with a fellow to learn about the educational system in their respective countries. In addition to learning about Colombia and what it is like to be a teacher there, Bonilla shared how she and her school were dealing with the pandemic.
“She explained that her students had limited access to technology and the internet and that remote learning made it so many students could not learn,” said Vaughn.
“This stuck with me, and I decided that if there was a way I could support her and her students in a collaborative, helpful, and earnest way, I would,” he added.
Vaughn asked the Appalachian Educators Club to help raise money to purchase tablets and internet access for Bonilla and her students. They were able to provide a total of nine tablets and internet access cards.
Bonilla and her class show their tablets and some App State gear! Photo submitted.
In addition to the tablets and internet access, Vaughn and his peers supported Bonilla and her students by sharing videos to help the students learn English.
“Currently, we are still in contact with Pamela and are getting to see how her students are benefiting from the tablets and internet,” said Vaughn. “I hope to maintain this connection with her and support her and her students in any way we can.”
“Service-learning is crucial to understanding what it means to be an educator in all walks of life, aside from your own personal experiences,” noted Vaughn.
“My hope is that this fundraiser will prove that it is rarely too difficult to help those in need and that with a little time and hard work you can make a real impact on the lives of people who need it,” he added.