Summertime Standouts: Kelsea Altheim and Rachel Melton

Rachel Melton Teaching
Rachel Melton teaching student’s a science lesson about exoskeletons.

Education students across Colorado State University participate in the traditional student teaching experience – writing lesson plans, managing a classroom, grading student work – as they train to be future educators. But some students, including two current English majors, took on an additional challenge of teaching abroad this summer.

Kelsea Altheim and Rachel Melton, juniors majoring in English Education, completed an education abroad program in Africa, where they assisted local educational organizations in Livingstone, Zambia.

Altheim and Melton spent their days in the versatile program teaching literacy, art, reading and math to students of all ages.  Each day was structured with different daily projects from adult literacy teaching programs to afterschool sports.

Rachel Melton and adult student Chizenga
Rachel Melton and Chizenga from the Adult Literacy Club

“The most rewarding part of this experience for me was definitely seeing the progress that Chizenga [one of my students] in the Adult Literacy Club made with his English,” said Melton. “He is so committed to learning English for the purpose of helping other people and empowering those who don’t feel that they have a voice.”

The three-week education abroad program focuses on education and public health in Livingstone and is supported by the volunteer organization African Impact. Many young African students who are thirsty to learn cannot afford the expenses of public school, so the funds provided by this program give them access to an education they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Throughout the program, CSU students not only taught the people of Zambia, but also had opportunities to fundraise and build various things the community was in need of.

“Some days we had special events like Monday Movie Night or Trivia Tuesday to raise money to build a center for the Girl Impact Program to meet in,” said Melton. “It was a humbling experience for me.”

Kelsea Altheim riding an elephant
Kelsea Altheim riding an elephant to explore Zambia.

Over the weekends, there were also opportunities for different cultural experiences that CSU students could partake in, ranging from safaris of national parks to exploring the iconic Victoria Falls. With many options to choose from, the three-week program tends to be a packed-full experience.

After participating in the program, both Melton and Altheim have decided that teaching in this type of environment is something they both want to pursue after graduation.

“This experience helped solidify the idea that I want to be a teacher in this kind of environment,” said Altheim. “There were a lot of emotions every day and I’m grateful that I had this opportunity.”

“Everything that I experienced there was just so fulfilling and joyful for me,” said Melton. “I loved the people, I loved African Impact’s model, I loved the work we were doing and I loved the small bit of the country I was able to experience.”

For more information on the Community Education and Health in Zambia program, visit the Office of International Program’s website.

The Department of English is in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.