BGSU alumni continue to reach out to people at home and around the world. Michael Leaser, a 2006 alumnus, will be leaving for Senegal on Saturday (Oct. 3) as a volunteer educator for the Arizona-based International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH). His one-year assignment will be as a “Trainer of Teachers of English” at the Teacher Training Institute in Fatick, where he will deliver technical assistance in pedagogy, train in-service teachers to develop innovative classroom management strategies, and cooperate with local nonprofit organizations to expand and improve a local Community Resource Center.
Originally from Sandusky, Leaser earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from BGSU, as well as a postgraduate certification in international project management from the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Toronto, Canada. For the past five years, he has worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations, universities and education programs to promote and foster innovation in the field of international education.
He said he has chosen to go to Senegal as a volunteer educator because he sees it as a valuable way to connect with a culture other than his own, share his skills and promote international cooperation and education. “I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity to experience Senegal, to teach and, most especially, to learn,” Leaser said.
In July, IFESH was awarded an $8 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development under the American Educators for Africa Program. The grant is enabling the foundation to send Leaser and 54 other volunteer educators to nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Through the program, IFESH plans to train an additional 63,000 teachers and benefit nearly 40,000 others through education workshops and establishing teacher resource centers.
The foundation focuses on teacher training to reduce hunger and poverty, empowering African communities by raising standards of literacy, and fostering cultural, social and economic relations between Americans and Africans. The organization also focuses on empowering individuals through community-based programs in the areas of education, health, conflict mitigation and community development.
IFESH was founded in 1981 by the Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, former board member of General Motors, author of The Sullivan Principles, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from President Bill Clinton.