At every corner, streams of rickshaws, pedestrians, and rowdy buses flood the streets. Marketplaces full of dancing street performers and stalls selling fresh fruit add cultural flair to the colonial and modern elements of the city. Away from the ornate Buddhist temples and glass skyscrapers, vast parks and a beautiful coastline provide places to relax and admire a brilliant sunset.
History teacher Clarissa Bushman will be able to enjoy such scenery as she travels to Colombo, Sri Lanka, this upcoming July with the opportunity of teaching economics and finance at Sri Lanka’s Nalanda College.
The opportunity was first established when three men from the Nalanda College Junior Old Boys Association, the school’s alumni association, talked to Principal Stanley Teitel and requested that one of Stuyvesant’s teachers teach economics and finance at Sri Lanka this summer. Initially, the prospect was offered to history teacher George Kennedy, but due to certain circumstances he was unable to accept and replaced by Bushman.
“Of course I’m excited about the opportunity to gain more teaching experience in an amazing place like Sri Lanka, but I’m also excited to simply be there and experience the new culture itself,” Bushman said.
One of the most prestigious all-boys schools in the country, Nalanda College is a Buddhist public school located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since its establishment in 1925, the school has offered education from grades one to thirteenth, (the equivalent of Kindergarten to 12th grade in the United States). Classes in Sri Lanka, however, are very much like college lectures due largely in part to their immense size.
“I’m really interested to see how classes are run in Sri Lanka, especially because class-sizes are so large,” Bushman said. “The school has more students that Stuyvesant has, and at first they asked me to teach a class of 200 students. That would be overwhelming for me since I’m only used to teaching 30-or-so students here, and so it was then decided that I would teach 2 classes of 40 instead.”
While the educational system may prove to be an interesting experience for both her and the Sri Lankan students, Bushman has one major concern: the language barrier. “The students do know English, but I’m not sure how fluent they are and so I do need to figure out how I will teach accordingly,” Bushman said. “I plan on having notes on a Smart board or handouts for them at all times so they can read along as I speak. I also think it’s important that there is student participation, so as a teacher I know what part of the material they fully comprehend and what they don’t.”
Nevertheless, many of the details have yet to be finalized. Bushman plans to read up on the Sri Lankan economy and devise lesson plans that will engage students, but it is still undecided whether or not she will be teaching about specifically the Sri Lankan market or American economics. “This is the first time that a relationship between a school in Sri Lanka and Stuyvesant is being made. As a result, nothing is completely planned yet and it’s more of a work-in-progress,” Bushman said. “Hopefully all goes well and the relationship will continue so that maybe, in the future, Stuyvesant can continue to have teachers at Sri Lanka and vice versa.”
Overall, Bushman is looking forward excitedly to teaching at Sri Lanka. “I am very fortunate and really look forward to the great adventure. I’m hoping to bring something new to Sri Lanka as an American teacher, and also to bring back what I’ve experienced in Nalanda to Stuyvesant.”