I spent most of January in Singapore teaching educational leaders about organization development and change and group dynamics through a joint degree program offered by TC and Singapore's National Institute of Education (NIE) at Nanyang University. My Singaporean students were terrific -- whip-smart, fun and funny, highly motivated and hard-working, thoughtful and engaging. They challenged me with their incisive questions (I think they read every single word of every single reading I assigned) and they inspired me with their intense commitment to learning.
The Singaporean people I met were uniformly kind, helpful and welcoming. I thought the country was a fascinating mix of natural beauty coupled with a clearly booming business district and interspersed with elements that looked to me like something out of Disney World. I repeatedly encountered visually stunning man-made waterfalls accompanied by laser light shows.
I deeply appreciated the opportunity to work in a country and culture 10,000 miles from my own, yet, I must confess, after nearly a month away, I was homesick. I missed my family and the comforts of home, the rhythm and routine of my NYC neighborhood and of TC. I loved my experience in Singapore, and also, strongly felt the pull to be home.
While away I found myself thinking a lot about our international students and how much they have to navigate to be successful at TC, thousands of miles from home. I reflected on our military students and how they have spent months or even years away from home, and in dangerous environments. In my classes at NIE, the students and I discussed studies noting the critical role of failure on the way to success, and we talked a lot about the importance of "grit" and "resilience" in young learners. I thought about how so many of our TC students exemplify these qualities every day. I felt embarrassed to be homesick in such a lovely locale after a mere three weeks, and my admiration and appreciation of our students who navigate this routinely increased immensely. I know some of our students have family living in or near Hubei Province, the area most affected by the coronavirus, or in other parts of Asia where the virus has caused significant disruption and panic. My heart goes out to all of you who are worried about loved ones far away from TC. Please know we are here for you and we want to help you navigate whatever stressors may arise so that you can study and learn well with us.
I am happy to be home again with my family and very happy to be back with my TC students and colleagues. I hope we can use the grit and resilience of our community to lift each other up when we most need it.
Sarah Brazaitis, PhD
MA Program Director