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Technology connects second graders with a French experience

By Devin Walsh '07


At a time when the term "global classroom" has entered the lingua franca of educational philosophy, UNC Asheville senior Malik Jizi stands at the vanguard. And he does not stand still.

A double major in French and History with an omnivorous appetite for learning, Jizi's ambition is to give back by teaching. "I always remember the saying, 'Those who wish to teach must never cease to learn.'"

Jizi came to UNC Asheville intent on a history degree and with a smattering of French from high school. A defining moment came during freshman orientation, when he was introduced to the possibility of studying abroad.

Spring 2009 saw Jizi in Angers, France, a semester he spent learning French. After visiting relatives in Lebanon over the summer, Jizi returned to France for another semester and volunteered to be a Cultural Correspondent. As such, he used Skype to communicate every two weeks with the second-grade class of Becky Wuerzer at Sugarloaf Elementary in Hendersonville.

"It was a wonderful experience for the kids," said Wuerzer, explaining that prior to each Skype session, she and Jizi would plan their approach. He'd assemble a PowerPoint related to the class's course of study, and afterward would field questions. Early in 2010, Jizi went to Hendersonville to give a final presentation to the class. This was doubly special for the second graders, said Wuerzer:

Just because my time as an undergraduate is over, my love for learning and inspiration to grow as a student of life will never cease"

—Malik Jizi

"You're dealing with 7- and 8-year-olds, so it's hard for them to comprehend that he's even overseas. And then there he is, in person! 'Hey, that's the guy that was on the Smartboard!'" they'd say.

Jizi class

The Hendersonville trip dovetailed with his decision to join UNC Asheville's Global Ambassadors. For Jizi, being a Global Ambassador is personal. The disrespecting of other cultures, he says, "spawns from the abyss of our ignorance. By showing students other cultures…a Global Ambassador helps the world move forward," he said.

According to Bonnie Parker, UNC Asheville's Study Abroad director, "Malik's Skype lessons reached 331 K–8 students in Transylvania, Union, Buncombe and Henderson counties; 16 senior citizens at Asheville's Jewish Community Center; and approximately 330 UNC Asheville students through the Global Ambassador program."

Jizi's postgrad plans include teaching English in France and researching master's degree programs in Middle Eastern History and Arabic. (He's already started learning Arabic.)

"Just because my time as an undergraduate is over, my love for learning and inspiration to grow as a student of life will never cease," he said. "The worst thing a student can do is finish a bachelor's degree and think they're done learning. It's only the beginning."

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