Diversity Fellow Project, Shin Ae Han

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Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Immigrant Children with Disabilities

Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Immigrant Children with Disabilities [download]

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Project Narrative

1. Please describe your activities during your fellowship experience. Describe your final capstone project(s).
I have faithfully worked with faculty members in Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD) and learned about disability and intersection between race/culture and disability, and developing cultural competence. I have participated in IHDD events and mentored by IHDD faculty from diverse backgrounds. Through taking a class, watching films related people with disability, visiting National Center on Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta and discussion with many people, I could build a foundation of knowledge in the field of disability studies and increased understanding of current discourse on a disability-related topic of interest. I also learned the skills needed to communicate with people with disabilities through the experiences at IHDD and learned the attitudes necessary to become a competent supporter, co-worker, and educator for people with disabilities and their families. And I engaged in people with disabilities advocacy during my fellowship experience.

Through this experience, I was able to develop a capstone project based on that knowledge. The preservice teacher training module offers professional and cultural knowledge to preservice teachers who will work with children with disabilities from culturally diverse families, particularly from China and Korea. In the project, I provided references

2. Who did your project inform, help, influence or impact? (UCEDD, individual, community, state) How?
I developed the preservice teacher training program for immigrant children with disabilities. This project will be helpful when teachers educate children with disabilities from culturally diverse families by providing proper knowledge and appropriate advice for communication with them. Also, it will help educators to figure out children's difficulties from disabilities and cultural differences and find their cultural competency and support them. Also, this project is expected to have a good impact on immigrant children with disabilities and their parents by reducing misunderstanding about their cultural differences and language barriers by some teachers. This program also encourages connecting with the community so communities could support children with disabilities and their families’ well-being.

3. Why did you choose to work on that project(s)?
As a former kindergarten teacher, I recognized that the challenge for successful inclusive education especially for immigrant children in early childhood education lies in solving many problems that teachers face in the classroom. In order to achieve success in the area of inclusive education, I provided references for professional teacher training programs. I hope this program helps to educate immigrant children with disability from Asia countries and communicate with immigrant families.

4. What did you gain from being a Diversity Fellow?
I was honored to be a UCEDD Diversity Fellow at IHDD this year. I enjoyed having my eyes opened to what disabilities are and how many sub-cultures are intertwined in our daily life and examine those variables in depth. I also enjoyed having my assumptions challenged by learning different perspectives for people with disabilities, both from the readings and from discussing my peers, as well as my instructors.

Also, by examining my own cultural background and I could recognize what is my cultural competency based on my personal identity. For example, before I became a Diversity Fellow, I did not feel a sense of belonging as an international student in this American society and having difficulties in cultural heterogeneity. However, my experiences at IHDD as Diversity Fellow gave me a great opportunity to look at myself positively and noticed the cultural competency of others, too. This helped me to understand others, their identity, and growth of cultural sensibility better. If I did not work as a Diversity Fellow, I could not get such a wonderful chance to study in depth about cultural competency and people with disabilities. I could broaden my perspective for all considering their strength based on their cultural background.

5. How will this experience impact your education or career decisions?
Although not in the past, I now think about inclusion every day. I have a passion for understanding, supporting, and advocating for children with disabilities and their families. While we always need to be cognizant of the lack of awareness and tolerance of differences in any culture and explore bigger contexts, it is also important to consider that what we can do for diversity within our own context such as looking around our neighborhood. I would like to apply what I learn and felt through diversity fellowship to everyday life and practice them every moment. I will also reflect these experiences in future career decisions by pursuing the inclusive education in early childhood education setting.

6. What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I hope every children and parent live a happy life in this world. My short-term goal is to get a doctorate degree after 3 years and to be a professor who studies what is a good early childhood education from various perspectives and training the undergrad students so they can educate children and support parents well. My future goal is to be an educator who supports all children and their families by providing culturally sensitive education, supporting and encouraging them and making a connection between them and our society.

7. What recommendations do you have for other Fellows?
Please look around frequently as you can. If you look around very closely, there are people who you did not know or you knew but could not or do not want to understand. There are a lot of marginalized people who easily disrespect easily because they are different from you. As diversity fellow, you could particularly focus on people with disabilities. If you were engaged in work related to people with disabilities, please explore that there are things you have not looked at. On the other hand, if you are not engaged in work people with disabilities, this is a good chance. Please start to recognize and try to understand them. I eagerly suggest you that please go beyond what you are comfortable and familiar with, and try to see what you have not seen in this society. These experiences will enhance your awareness to the people from a diverse perspective, sharpen your understanding of marginalized people in our society. In addition to, I highly recommend to eager to participate in as many activities as you can and training offered to you as part of being a Fellow and to work on a project sincerely that you really are engaged with.

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