In the United States too few classrooms teach robustly about Asia's numerous cultures, societies, and histories despite the fact that Asia is one of the most vibrant regions of the world and vital to America's future. Within Asia, numerous societies are engaged in disputes over war trauma and memory, over territory, and over their futures. Furthermore, between America and Asia, the opportunities for teachers from both regions to work together remains limited. EngageAsia's programs aim to directly tackle these issues by providing training for American teachers to teach about various societies in Asia, through helping teachers in Asia learn about the United States, and by developing transnational networks of educators throughout the Pacific Rim that can form bonds of trust helping students cultivate empathy for the lives and cultures of others.
EngageAsia provides educators with transformational experiences that aim to build empathy and impact students, schools, and communities. In the spirit of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, EngageAsia's programs prioritize learning about how people actually live their lives in other cultures over the study of abstract theories of globalization.
Our educational philosophy is rooted in experiential education and critical thinking. The organization’s programs utilize project based learning, design thinking, and service-learning approaches in order to provide educators with hands on experiences allowing them to learn about other cultures and societies first-hand.
These educational approaches are balanced by challenging educators in our programs to reflect carefully and think critically about lessons learned. This creative balance between hands on learning and deep reflection leads to sophisticated understanding of other cultures and societies, enabling teachers to bring understanding of the region back to their classrooms.
Ultimately, EngageAsia’s programs are designed to impact youth by deepening their empathy for others and encouraging them to do good in the world. EngageAsia approaches cultural learning visually and therefore provides participants with video documentation training. This adds a unique dimension to EngageAsia’s projects and provides resources for students and other educators to utilize to share in the learning in which project participants engage.
EngageAsia is committed to community development and sees education as a vehicle through which local communities can engage in larger issues as well as provide knowledge, hope, and inspiration for the future to youth.
EngageAsia is also committed to fostering the creation of multimedia tools by program participants that can be shared with their students and with other educators. Participants in EngageAsia programs receive training on video creation and editing for this purpose.
EngageAsia plans to follow-up the 2018 and 2019 US-Taiwan programs with trilateral programs that in 2020 will bring American and Japanese teachers, together, to Taiwan, and in 2021 will bring Taiwanese and American teachers, together, to Japan. All EngageAsia programs include extensive professional development work prior to travel as well as significant followup and curricular development post-trip. Furthermore, the aim of all EngageAsia programs is to develop a strong, deep, and lasting network of K-12 educators in the Pacific Rim who can bring lessons learned into their classrooms.