Featured Traveler: Matthew Merrill

The Center for International Understanding, through its many programs, has given North Carolina teachers and community leaders the opportunity to travel all over the globe. They have gained perspectives on education and community building in other countries, and applied that knowledge to their own communities throughout North Carolina. More than 8,000 individuals have traveled to 48 countries with a CIU delegation. In this special blog series, we’ll feature delegates that are making a difference in their community and applying what they learned from a CIU program. 

This month, we get to know Matthew Merrill, a history teacher and administrator at Olympic High School in Charlotte.

Malyasia Batu CavesProgram:

Singapore and Malaysia, 2015

Describe Your Background:

I would consider myself a history buff. Ever since I was young, I always wanted to learn more about every aspect of history. As I grew up, I felt it was important to share what I learned with others, and through that, teaching came naturally to me. I have been teaching for 15 years now.

What have you gained from your program?

After returning from my trip to Singapore and Malaysia I learned that I had a lot to learn about globalization and education. The collaboration between community, schools and religions was incredible – a great model for all nations to follow. I grew as a human and teacher during my trip. I engaged and interacted with various cultures, food, religions and experiences that I would never have done in my life. It was truly eye opening.

How have you applied what you learned?

I took my experience and expanded my Global Leadership unit on global education to go further in-depth on Singapore’s Education structure. I am also in the process of completing the NC DPI program for creating a global-ready school and helping teachers earn global ID badges.

What was your “ah ha” moment?

My favorite moment on my global teacher trip was the Batu Caves in Malaysia. My experience with the historical Hindu culture and religion, and seeing first-hand a religious ceremony, put this trip into a full perspective for me.

Why is CIU’s Global Teachers Program important to North Carolina?

This program is valuable to leading our teachers and our students to see and understand how this planet is interconnected and that globalization plays a massive role in our lives. The more teachers can make these connections in the classroom, especially with first-hand experiences, it really helps the students understand the concept in a more concrete way.

Advice for future travelers:

My advise to future travelers is to have an open mind. You’ll only do this once in your lifetime, so soak it all up when you get this unbelievable opportunity. Before you know it, the program will be over and you’ll miss it and your new friends dearly.

Click here to read Matt’s lesson plan inspired by the Global Teachers program.