This May, Walsh education students, faculty and staff traveled to Montevideo and Maldonado Nuevo, Uruguay, to study global education and experience the mission of the Brothers of Christian Instruction in a different culture. Led by Brother Guillermo Davila, Director of Global Learning Michael Cinson and Professional Associate Professor and Intervention Specialist Betty Marko, the seven students traveled to Uruguay and earned credit as a part of two Walsh courses, Living out the Mission and Positive Learning Environments, which focus on the global mission of the Brothers of Christian Instruction.
Upon arrival in Montevideo, the Walsh group was met by the students and staff from Colegio La Mennais, a school founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction in 1956. During the 3-day stay in Montevideo, Walsh students gained a better understanding of Uruguayan culture through a homestay program offered through La Mennais and historic site visits in the city of Montevideo. In addition, the students had an opportunity to understand the private school structure in Uruguay.
While in Maldonado, students and faculty centered their activities at the Dionisio Diaz Center, an institution founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, which provides supplemental education to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Maldonado.
“The Center was established to provide the kids in the lower income area a place to be since in Uruguay, the students only go to school for half of the day,” said Caileigh Wilgus, Senior Middle Childhood Education student. “During the time when they are not at school, the center provides them with a safe place for them to go and stay out of trouble and a positive atmosphere where they can learn and grow and have fun together without being on the street and getting into things that can be dangerous for their future. We have been able to spend time here with the students, playing games, doing crafts, gardening and learning a little Spanish as well.”
The Center also provides counseling services, meals, and a caring atmosphere for at-risk youth. The Walsh students and faculty worked with the Brothers and the educators at the Center throughout the week by observing, assisting, and engaging with the youth.
“The Brothers' mission is visible here through the love they give the children,” said Chrissy Ramsey, Junior Early Childhood Education student. “They come in every morning and they are so happy to see the kids. As a future educator, I have really learned a lot about the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus says ‘Let the little children come to me.’ Seeing that mission in action has made me realize the importance of incorporating it into my future classroom to be sure that I include and love all children.”
This unique Global Learning experience allowed students to weave and strengthen bonds between institutions separated by both ends of the Americas, but connected through the Mennsian Family.
“One thing that I have learned from being on this trip is how widespread the Brothers are,” said Wilgus. “They have over 8,000 educators, over 100,000 students and hundreds of centers and schools all over this world.”
This trip offered the education students a special look into the Brothers of Christian Instruction on a global scale and allowed them to see different styles that they can take back to their own classrooms.
“After being on this trip, I think I have learned a lot about myself and the Brothers' mission and how I want to incorporate that into my classroom environment,” said Wilgus. “There is an overwhelming sense of love and unity at the center. You can feel it the second you walk in.”