Testimonial from the Hamburg Study Camp

Sitting on a flight from New York to Denmark, I could hardly contain my excitement, and my nervousness. I had never been outside of my home country of the United States, and I was overwhelmed with the realization that I was on my first international trip. What would the food, culture, and schools in Germany look like? Will I get lost trying to navigate a vastly different public transportation system? What will living with a host family be like? My thoughts were racing even as I traveled via train from Denmark to Hamburg. Participating in the TTT Program was a major moment for stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new experiences, and overcoming challenges. Little did I know on that first day just how impactful my participation in the TTT program would be, not only for my professional growth as an educator, but also for my personal development!

            Although I was nervous about experiencing an entirely new country for the first time, I couldn’t help but take in my surroundings with awe. The architecture, nature, and modes of transportation were vastly different from what I know back in North Carolina. I quickly fell in love with the city of Hamburg, making sure to spend every day of the program exploring something new! With the support from my host family and my TTT buddy, I quickly learned how to use the public transport, tried new local foods, and was able to sight-see often. Living with my wonderful host family, I was rapidly immersed into the culture, becoming familiar with the German language, foods, and customs. I strongly believe that living with a host family helped me acclimate to my surroundings easier and better prepared me to enter a German elementary classroom. As a participant in the TTT program, I not only got to learn about the culture within Germany, but also the cultures within Ghana. The program allowed me to cultivate relationships with peers from Hamburg and Winneba, which led to a beautiful exchange of ideas and storytelling.

            As a soon-to-be 4th grade teacher in North Carolina, I was fortunate to be placed in a 4th grade classroom at my TTT school placement. I intended to take note of any similarities to schools in the US, as well as find inspiration for things I could do differently with my students in the US. My first impressions of the classroom were overwhelming, as I not only had to overcome a language barrier, but I also witnessed an entirely different school structure. There were more breaks during the day, more breakfast times, and students followed their classroom teachers up from 1st grade to 4th grade. I noticed that teachers seemed to have more agency and creativity in their lesson planning, and I enjoyed seeing the dynamic between teacher and student in my placement. I gained new classroom management techniques, project ideas, and a lasting professional connection with my mentor teacher! My work within my school placement was inspiring, and I hope to implement what I have learned into my classroom this fall! Being selected to participate in the TTT program is one of the most moving experiences of my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to enrich my learning through the wonderful TTT Fellows.

By Emily Banks