Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland


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BTC Internship Sparks Passion for Addressing Educational Inequalities

By Morgan Franklin, BTC Student 

“…I co-founded an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program at High Point High School in Beltsville, just 5 miles from the University of Maryland, and just 10 miles from Walter Johnson High School.  Of the entering freshmen class at High Point, only 33% graduate.  That’s 33%, compared to greater than 95% at schools like Walter Johnson.”

I have always been interested in education, but up until about 2 years ago, I felt as if I was so far removed from all the problems facing our nation’s students in lower-income areas.  I went to public elementary school in Howard County, Maryland, and then attended a highly competitive, academically rigorous private high school in Montgomery County.  Although I didn’t attend public high high school, Howard and Montgomery Counties are both known for their excellent public school systems.  Walter Johnson High School, the public high school that serves my family’s neighborhood has a greater than 95% graduation rate.  Demographically, it is over 50% white.  When you live in an environment like the one I did growing up, you feel as if the problem of educational inequity is so far removed, and that your individual help is not significant whatsoever.  This is definitely the perspective I had a few years ago. Continue reading

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Internship Provides a Real Life Lesson in Engagement and Advocacy

by Andrea Glauber, BTC Student

Since the Fall 2012 semester, I have been working at an internship in the Department of Public Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children. My work focuses mostly on field policy and global development issues, making the experience relevant to my coursework in Beyond the Classroom.

Save the Children’s international policies have recently focused on two topics: 1) Humanitarian assistance in conflict-ridden areas such as Syria, and 2) The international development agenda after the deadline of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). My first task as an intern was to plan a roundtable discussion for 60 members of civil society, featuring a panel of experts on the United Nations’ post-2015 development framework. In July 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise him on the issues that should be prioritized in the future. The discussion emphasized the importance of input from civil society in contributing to the framework, a real-life example of the kind of advocacy and citizen engagement we learn about in Beyond the Classroom. Continue reading


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Internship Experience Empowers Student and Local Families

by Pamela Barry, BTC Student

Prince George’s County houses the University of Maryland, and is highly diverse.

This semester I participated in an internship experience with an on campus organization called Partners in Print (PNP), one of the three programs coordinated through America Reads*America Counts (AR*AC). AR*AC, an organization run through the Leadership and Community Service Learning branch of Stamp Student Union, aims to provide mentoring programs that enhance learning for both local elementary school students, and students here at the University of Maryland. My experience with Partners in Print allowed me to engage in our local community while embracing all of the qualities of a Beyond the Classroom student: being an “active and responsible citizen and leader in a complex, multi-cultural, and global society.” Continue reading


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International Literacy Day: A Civic Learning Trip Takes Students “Beyond” their Borders

by Pamela Barry and Lauren Houser, BTC Students


A video of the full morning program from International Literacy Day, 2012.

On Friday, September 7,  we had the privilege of joining fellow Beyond the Classroom students for events to honor International Literacy Day, sponsored by USAID and the Brookings Institution, at the Ronald Regan Building in our nation’s capitol. The day was devoted to exploring international literacy programs and discussing new approaches to teaching literacy skills worldwide.  The day was celebrated with events all day, including a multi-media presentation in the morning. Continue reading


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International Internship Connects Student to Local Community and Local Issues

Editor’s Note:  Beyond the Classroom students are required to have an internship in their second semester of the program. BTC encourages students to pursue internships abroad, and this post highlights one student’s international internship experience.  Students interested in finding international internships or funding support for these experiences should contact Dr. Caitlin Haugen, Beyond the Classroom’s Assistant Director at btcinfo@umd.edu.

Schools in Ghana – and many other countries in Africa – are often run down and lack resources.

by Catherine Irwin, BTC Student

My trip to Accra, Ghana last year for a six-month study abroad program with University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) was a truly life-changing experience.

Once I arrived in Accra, it was really important to me to find a project that was going to make me feel like I was contributing to the community and giving back some of the warmth and genuine affection and care I was constantly receiving from Ghanaians everywhere I went. I did some research on Idealist.org and found two organizations looking for interns. I coerced our friends in our study abroad group into coming along with me, and got ready to get involved in the community.  Continue reading


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Alumna Profile: Amber Farn

City Year is a nonprofit that supports year long volunteer opportunities in schools.

By Dr. Caitlin Haugen, BTC Assistant Director

When Amber Farn completed an assignment for the Beyond the Classroom foundation course (UNIV325), she had no idea where it would take her.  The assignment requires students to research organizations that are addressing issues that interest them, and to find potential internships in those organizations.  In her research, she found the City Year program, a nonprofit that supports year-long volunteer experiences in schools in 23 cities across the United States.  After she graduated in 2011, she joined City Year as a corps member at an urban high school in Philadelphia. In her work, she provides in-class support for teachers, tutors students who need additional support, and teaches classes.

“Currently, I work in ninth grade English and math classes, an eleventh grade math class, an ESL class, and a special education English class,” she explained.  “After school, I run the Fitness Club, help out with the track team, and work with seniors on their senior projects.”  Her school has a highly diverse population, but Farn noted, “One characteristic that they all have in common is that most of them come from low-income families and live in a relatively dangerous, violent neighborhood. Many students that I’ve worked with have difficulty doing basic addition and subtraction, and their reading level is still in elementary or middle school. What upsets me the most is that many of them lack role models in their lives and have very low self-esteem.”

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Converging Issues: Education and Rural Poverty

Editor’s Note: Beyond the Classroom encourages program participants to identify civic issues that are most important to them.  Through activities, lectures, films, seminars, classes, events, and internships, students learn how they can address those issues through civic engagement, advocacy, and action.  This post is the first in a new series “Converging Issues,” which are blogs that examine these issues from a student perspective – including what inspired them to get involved, how BTC encouraged them to take their learning to the next step, and how they have become involved in addressing their civic issue.

The author, posing by a picture she painted in a boy’s bathroom on her Alternative Break trip to Gaston, North Carolina.

by Anne Regan, BTC Student

When I was in the first grade, I decided I wanted to be a teacher after showing one of my sisters how to write her name. She was so proud of herself and went around making her mark on every windowsill in the house with a brown crayon. You can still see her name at a few of the windows to this day. Over the next twelve years she became increasingly interested in art and architecture and I became increasingly interested in teaching. As I applied for colleges and people started to ask me what I planned on majoring in I got mixed reactions. Most people were excited for me, but then there were the others who told me I was too smart to be a “glorified babysitter.” Harsh comments like these inspire me to be a better person and a better teacher because, as corny as it sounds, children are the future. For that reason, everyone should be heavily invested in building stronger, better informed teachers. I take every opportunity I can to broaden my perspective of the world so that I will be well prepared for when I graduate and set out to change the world through education.

I joined Beyond the Classroom because of the focus on civic engagement and social change. Education is something that is affected by everything and at the same time effects everything, so therefore, I want to know a little bit about everything. BTC was a good place to look for a taste of everything because of the diversity of topics discussed and unique people in the classes. Constantly talking about world problems and potential solutions reminds me to think outside of Prince George’s County Public Schools and the American Public School System in general. There are an infinite number of ways to be educated. Continue reading