Teachers from thousands of miles away have travelled to Harrisonburg to observe students at HHS as well as take classes at James Madison University. The teachers arrived in Washington D.C. on Jan. 4 to attend a conference before making their way to Harrisonburg until May 10. Vinay Kumar has travelled from India and is helping out with Kasey Hovermale’s chemistry classes. Kumar believes that being selected for this opportunity was fate.
“Everything has been in destiny for me. Since my teenage years things have come to me. When I did my graduation, I didn’t go for most of the time to college, but I was a gold medalist [in my class]. Similarly, in my post graduation, I didn’t go to my college but I was selected [as a gold medalist again],” Kumar said. “My principal told me I should [apply] for this form USIEF (United States-India Educational Foundation), [which included a] U.S. and India collaboration. I [thought] ‘Let me try’ because more than 500 teachers were applying for it and we didn’t know how many teachers were going to be selected. When I got selected, I was like ‘Okay, I’m lucky.’”
One of the biggest differences that Kumar has seen is the abundance of technology that HHS uses. There is also a lot of differences in the way the school functions.
“I think [HHS] use a lot more technology. It is a lot more activity based and practicum based. We have separate practical sessions, but in every class I see [students] using activities. [In India] we don’t do activities every class,” Kumar said. “Another thing is here students move from class to class. In India, the teachers move from class to class, the students are in their classroom for the whole year. When they pass, they are promoted to the next class.”
While attending classes at JMU, the main thing Kumar is learning is how to incorporate technology into the classroom. He hopes to use this to make classes more appealing and fun for the students.
“[We do] many technological things, like how to use them and make the class interesting. There are things that I have learned here and I am still learning and there is a lot more to go,” Kumar said. “I have also learned to work tirelessly, to be a workaholic.”
One difference is that people in India are very family-oriented. Unlike America, people from India often live at home as long as they possibly can and won’t move until they absolutely have to.
“In India we live in a joint community system. Our parents are doing most of the things for us. They are paying for everything until I get a job. Unless my job is very far away, I will not move out. We are too connected emotionally. We care about emotions very much,” Kumar said.
“There is a hindrance sometimes I believe because people will not take a good job because they want to be with their family.”
Kumar believes the cultures are entirely different and would leave everything behind if he had the chance to stay in America.
“I can’t compare [America and India] because I believe you have some similar things and each country has some uniqueness and beautiful things associated with it. If Trump would say to me, ‘Vinay, do you want to stay here?’ I would stay here. I would forget my father, mother, everyone. I like it here,” Kumar said.