Leslie Pacheco, from Palm Desert, Calif., who has an interest in girls’ access to education and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, is preparing for two presentations at the Women’s Center with her classmate A’ame Kone, of Brown Country, Ind., who has been with the Peace Corps in Mali.
Dani Kehm (left) and Emily Hatch
Meanwhile, Dani Kehm, from Ellicott City, Md., is organizing the “Walk for Light” to benefit South Africans impacted by house fires from open-flame candles, along with Jennifer Bartimole, from Olean, N.Y., who served in El Salvador. And Mohammed Issa, from Ghana, is completing an internship with PathStone, helping the migrant workers’ organization write grant applications.
They are all students in BGSU’s Master of Arts in Cross-cultural and International Education (MACIE) program—a group of young people who typically have lived and worked around the world. They share a great sense of adventure and camaraderie, along with a commitment to helping underserved populations.
“They are a fantastic group, bringing a whole new dimension to the College of Education and Human Development and therefore campus,” said Dr. Margaret Zoller Booth, leadership and policy studies and MACIE director. “They are extremely good students—multilingual, multicultural, and actively contributing to the campus in so many ways, from working in the Women’s Center to working in the Center for Teaching and Learning and other varied jobs on campus as graduate assistants.”
The MACIE program is also a Peace Corps Fellows site, providing federal assistance to returning volunteers. Of the 13 new MACIE students this year, six are former Corps members. They are the first group to come to BGSU specifically for the Fellows program.
The other students were also drawn by MACIE’s innovative curriculum, which “prepares professional educators to be effective leaders in the internationalization of schools and communities and to be positive facilitators of cross-cultural understanding.” It is unique among the 40-plus Fellows sites in the U.S. in its emphasis on nontraditional educational roles. The current students said it fit their needs perfectly—to the chagrin of Matt Priest, from Lambertville, Mich. After his Peace Corps stint in Kenya, he said humorously, he had hoped to live in a different region of the country, but BGSU’s program was too good a match to pass up.
Likewise, Ben McKenzie, of Great Falls, Mont., had taught in India and finds that MACIE allows him to combine his dual interests in English literature and “liberation theatre” for social justice education. While in India he met now-fellow MACIE student Emily Hatch, from Bowling Green, who was teaching there with her husband, and they all came to BGSU.
A recent visit to the class found them to be a high-spirited group with a heightened sense of the interconnectedness of life. Each finds a way to pursue his or her individual interests, and the others tend to pitch in.
Kehm said that a key tenet of the Peace Corps is “bring it back home.”
“That’s always in your mind when you leave,” she said. “MACIE brings more varied perspectives. I’m always energized.”
Booth marvels at the synergy the program has created and contributes to the motto to bring it back home. “Mohammed (Issa) was taught by Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana, I’m a former volunteer, and now we’re all here together,” she said.