When Keri Dziuban (MA10) obtained her Masters in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University, she knew she wanted to work overseas. But she never expected to impact students on three continents.
While studying for his Masters, Dziuban taught in Ann Arbor Public Schools. In 2018, she and her family moved to Namibia, where she used her special education training to help struggling students at an international school. Now she is preparing to teach English to adult learners in Vietnam.
“There is always something a teacher can learn to make a classroom function better,” says Dziuban, who was one of the first students to graduate from the UEM’s Autism Spectrum Disorders program. . âA teacher must adapt to his situation. I have had the chance to use my skills and apply them to many different roles.
November 18, U.S. Foreign Service Associates around the world (AAFSW) recognized Dziuban’s contributions as an educator and board member of the Windhoek International School in Namibia. She is one of six recipients of the Secretary of State’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA).
âI am incredibly honored and touched to receive this award,â says Dziuban, who currently lives in Hanoi. Her husband, Eric, is the national director of the Center for Disease Control for Vietnam. âIt’s rewarding when you’re in a community for a short time and your work has a ripple effect. “
Dziuban and his family moved to Namibia and lived in the capital Windhoek for three years. Her husband was national director of the CDC there before taking up his current position in May.
After enrolling her sons Ezra, 9, and Cole, 7, at the International School in Windhoek, she noticed that some of her sons’ friends were struggling to develop their reading skills. Conversations with other concerned parents led her to volunteer at K-12 School.
âThe school has just under 500 students, half Namibian and half international, including children with varying abilities and learning needs,â says Dziuban. âThere was no structured approach to teaching reading, writing and math, which parents wanted to tackle. I trained some teachers in the learning support service, which led me to work in private with several students.
Later, the US Ambassador to Namibia appointed Dziuban to the Board of Directors of Windhoek International.
âI gained an understanding of the day-to-day functioning of the school,â says Dziuban. âI learned to collaborate with stakeholders while supporting teachers and personalizing these relationships. It was a stimulating and interesting dynamic to be involved as a mother, educator and board member.
Dziuban leveraged her role to fill gaps she saw in the school curriculum.
âI did not prescribe a particular approach to achieve educational goals, but I stressed that it should be clear how to help students progress,â says Dziuban. âBy the time I left school, administrators made a commitment to have specific times each day for reading, writing and math during the elementary years. I have seen teachers become more excited about the growth that students are making in their basic academic abilities. “
Dziuban also spent hundreds of hours working with a team to help the school recruit, interview and hire a new education director.
âIt’s gratifying to know that the students at the school will be better able to access the world because they will have stronger basic academic skills,â said Dziuban. âI was in a great position to use the skills I developed at Eastern and bring them to the next level.
âI also enjoyed building relationships with the Windhoek community. We knew our family would not be here forever. But we think it’s important to grow where you stand. We have made great friendships that last a lifetime.
American Foreign Service Worldwide Associates Hold Awards Ceremony in Washington DCUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks and congratulated the winners. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions, Dziuban virtually attended the awards ceremony. For more information, visit the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide website.
About the University of Eastern Michigan
Founded in 1849, Eastern is Michigan’s second oldest public university. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctorate and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In total, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are awarded by the colleges of arts and sciences of the University; Business; Education; Engineering and technology; Health and social services; and, his graduate school. UEM is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.