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Student Profile, Nisrin Elamin

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Student Profile, Nisrin Elamin

Nisrin Elamin enrolled in TC's Comparative and International Education master's program when she realized she needed more training in the areas of teaching work that was more related to communities and the work they were doing to address the roots of poverty

Student Profile, Nisrin Elamin

As a Zankel Fellow, Nisrin Elamin got involved with the Student Press Initiative and also worked with Professor Louis Cristillo as a research assistant on an oral history project involving Muslim adolescents in the NYC schools.

Student Profile, Nisrin Elamin

Nisrin Elamin (left) with TC alumna Elaine Wolfensohn says endowed the Wolfensohn Family Foundation Scholarship Fund at TC to provide scholarships for international students because the world needs better teachers and there is so much to learn from having the international students at Teachers College

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 Connecticut. She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in African studies from Harvard University, and after a few years of teaching in Tanzania, enrolled in the master’s degree program in Comparative and International Education at Teachers College.
 
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 Iringa. 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.
 
Something clicked.
 
“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. 
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