What it’s like to be a volunteer instructor for the RISE Program

In May 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to Ilocos Norte, Philippines as a volunteer instructor for the RISE program. I, along with the rest of the Pueblo Science RISE (Ilocos Norte) team prepared and presented a 3-day workshop to teach interactive STEM experiments and activities to local educators. The workshop also included engaging STEM discussions and competitive group activities that stimulated critical thinking and encouraged active teamwork.

Delivering the learning module on the Human Body at the RISE workshop, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, May 2019.

One of the most memorable aspects throughout the workshop was the immense enthusiasm that the local educators brought during every activity session. They were especially very appreciative about how all the presented experiments and activities could be executed using locally available materials demonstrating the practicality and feasibility for utilization in their own classrooms. By the last day of the workshop, all the local educators were highly engaged, actively participating and learning to acquire new skills and ideas that they can implement in the future to enhance the learning environment of their own students.

Teachers participating in the team-building exercises during the RISE Workshop, Ilocos Norte May 2019.

Aside from the workshop, the Pueblo Science team also had the opportunity to explore the local community, meet other locals, eat delicious Filipino food and learn about the Filipino culture. I really admired how supportive and caring the locals in the community were with one another, and their willingness to welcome and accommodate us during our stay. On top of that, my absolute favorite food to eat were deep-fried empanadas and fire grilled chicken intestines that were being sold by a lovely old lady in one of the neighbourhoods. I highly suggest for any future Pueblo Science RISE Ilocos Norte volunteers to try them, I promise that they won’t regret it!

Enjoying the local sights, sounds and tastes, Ilocos Norte May 2019.

This opportunity was truly an eye-opening experience that I will never forget. I am able to further appreciate how fortunate and lucky I am for the opportunities in STEM that I can pursue in Canada to further my learning at an advanced level. These low-resource communities around the world truly do need our help in advancing science education in their schools. As a student who is deeply passionate about STEM education, I will continue to learn and use my own knowledge to give back and help to make a greater impact in bettering the lives of others.

Soomin Lee is a 3rd year Life Sciences student at the University of Toronto. She is also the co-president of Pueblo Science’s UofT Student Chapter.

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