Wednesday, November 26, 2008

U of C Faculty of Ed article: BEd opens doors to the world

Story from this link.

BEd opens doors to the world

Education alumnus Steven Tober

November 26, 2008 - Steven Tober calls his BEd Master of Teaching program a "ticket" to continue travelling and exploring life.

The UofC Education alumnus used this ticket to throw the doors to the world wide open and indulge in his passion for travel. He finished his degree in 2004 with the "awesome experience," of teaching English as a second language in Changsha China.

When asked what drew him to teaching, he replies, "to be blunt, time off.

"But beyond the freedom to travel and explore the planet and other cultures, I felt that of all the jobs I'd had since graduating from high school in 1980, teaching was the most rewarding."

After high school, Tober worked a variety of jobs that allowed him to continue travelling. By the time he earned a BA in Linguistics and Spanish in 1996, he and wife, Maria Zambrano, had bicycled through Colombia, Chile, Peru and Bolivia and Tober was one of the first to complete all 102 climbs in the guidebook Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. Tober published in Canadian alpine Journal an account of a bike trip from Guatemala to Panama during which his group climbed a volcano in the six countries they visited.

Returning from China, he found that he had his pick of teaching positions. He chose a placement in Benghazi, Libya, "mostly because it's a place people know little about and it's a place most people think is very dangerous."

Despite having his car stolen at gunpoint a few days after arriving, Tober insists that the western media stereotype is "far from reality" and says he experienced no further incidents of crime in the three years he remained in the country.

While in Libya, he hobnobbed with the rich and famous, or at least the near-famous. One of his students was the nephew of Libya's head of state, Muammar Gaddafi.

He soon realized his student suffered from an undiagnosed learning disability but because the school was so small there was little help available. After contacting teachers back in Calgary and searching online, Tober found help in Cairo. With his urging, the parents took the boy to see a child psychologist.

"It was a big step. To the headmaster's knowledge, no child had been sent for outside help," he says. With the additional attention, the boy was "able to focus and progress academically."

Tober and his wife were invited to the grateful family's mansion where they were treated to pictures and stories of Colonel Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli. The family promised to invite them to meet the colonel next time he visited, but the visit never materialized.

Since leaving Libya, Tober has been teaching in Bogota Colombia. Nearing the end of his contract, he muses over returning to Calgary or working in a country he's not yet explored.

"I crave culture shock!" he exclaims.

Having cycled the equivalent of the earth's circumference across five continents it's no surprise then that his advice to education students is to "do the international option, and to heck with the car payments! Just go for it.

"It will open your eyes to what this world and international teaching have to offer. Your life, your kids' lives, your students' lives, will be much richer for it."

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