Student Profile, Nisrin Elamin
Published in Inside - Volume XIV, No. 7
Ask Nisrin Elamin where she’s from and the answer is likely to get, well, a little complicated.
Elamin was born in
Sudan, grew up in Oman, moved to Germany for a bit and at 16, moved again, this time to the United States, where she attended a boarding school in . She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in African studies from Connecticut Harvard University, and after a few years of teaching in , enrolled in the master’s degree program in Comparative and International Education at Teachers College. Tanzania
Whew. So where is home?
“That’s a good question,” she says with a wry smile. “I think for me, home is still Sudan, just because my extended family and my roots are there, and I feel like my responsibilities are there in the sense that my life’s work, I hope, will be connected to Sudan. But at the same time, home is also where the people I love are, and they are all over the place, so I can say that the world is my home.”
Given her peripatetic existence, it seems only fitting that she made the decision to attend TC while living in the rural Tanzanian town of
. That’s where Elamin taught English and history at an international school. Though she enjoyed teaching, she quickly found herself getting her secondary-school charges out of the classroom and into the community by organizing service learning projects. Elamin herself was soon teaching a literacy course for local residents. Iringa
“I felt that I wanted to do teaching work that was more related to communities and the work they were doing to address the roots of poverty,” she says, “and I just felt like I needed more training in those areas.”
At TC, she has taken full advantage of opportunities both in and out of the classroom.
As a Zankel Fellow, she got involved with the Student Press Initiative. She also worked with as a research assistant with Professor Louis Cristillo on an oral history project involving Muslim adolescents in the NYC schools.
In September, Elamin took a full-time position as a trainer with Global Kids, a nonprofit organization that coordinates after-school programs on human rights issues in NYC public schools. That means that for now, Elamin intends to stay in
New York City, but Africa always looms in the distance—she’d like to return to the continent someday “as an educator-activist.”
All in all, Elamin says that her TC experience has been quite the journey—and of journeys, educational or otherwise, she certainly knows of what she speaks.
“I feel like I got a good theoretical grounding in the classroom, but also had that practical experience to balance it all,” she says. “For me, that is one of the great things about Teachers College, in that it offers many opportunities to step out of our walls here at Teachers College and explore what is going on in the real world.”
To view a videotaped interview with Elamin, visit www.tc.edu/news/article.htm?id=6998.previous page