Rotary Club of Faribault

Teacher exchange program

     Ryan Krominga Director of Teaching and Learning for Faribault Public Schools shared his experiences setting up the Djibouti teacher exchange program. A partnership to help understand what Somali refugees come with when they arrive in our local school program. Placing teachers in their home settings, to better their understanding of environment and learning concepts from their home. 
     Ryan was accompanied in collaboration with Dr Jill Wilson of Northfield Public Schools and Dr. Martha Bigelo of the U of MN. The choice of the region/state of Djibouti was made on many factors including access of major port, diversity of languages and most importantly safety level from civil conflict. 
     Djibouti was settled as a French colony, including French 4 other languages are commonly spoken in this region. The school system had many similarities to our own. The school year was divided into semesters or quarters. The school buildings themselves mirror the look of an open California school campuses. There were notable differences as well. The school day was split in two shifts, morning and night. Technology was very limited, although most students had their own cell phone. 
     They also visited the refugee camp Ali Adpeh which was miles away from structured roads in the dessert. This camp, home to 17,000 refugees was built from what they could find and use. Although, in hardship education was given to every child in Ali Adpeh. There has been a focus to teach in English to students to allow better access to great opportunities globally. 
     There are many misconceptions of the refugees we see in our community that Ryan was able to understand are not true. These kids come from a diverse area, know many languages. They are well exposed to English, they come from a structured system of education.
     The Djibouti teacher exchange program will continue with a St. Olaf sending a group in 2021, along with the U of MN sending graduate students soon after. If you would like to learn more about this program, please feel free to reach out to Ryan Krominga at his public-school office.