Belize Field Experience

Student teacher Irfaan Sorathia goes to Belize for practical teaching experience

Arranging a placement can be a challenge, whether for an employment position or an education internship, but every now and then the stars just seem to line up and magic is born. When Debby Sollway, Administrative Support, suggested an international placement to Irfaan Sorathia, he was sold in an instant.

“I started by considering my options, but in the end I decided that if I was going to be dealing with cultural differences in an educational setting, it would be more practical to go to an English-speaking country.”

Fast-forward to fall 2010: Irfaan arrives in the only country in Central America where English is the official language, Belize. At the teacher orientation Irfaan learns that he will not be teaching math or physics and PE as expected; that he will not have the opportunity to teach any academic subjects. Despite his initial disappointment, Irfaan quickly assesses the bigger picture and identifies new challenges.

“The students come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and educational experiences, many with limited access to materials or even qualified teachers,” he explains. “The goal is to go beyond what  you are teaching, the pedagogy,” and essentially make the kind of contribution that is actually needed.

With Irfaan, one gets the sense that his professional attitude, his ability to assess, adapt and sincerely respond, is not born from an acquired skill set and youthful countenance, but rather from a place of deeper wisdom.

Originally from Calgary, Irfaan’s post-secondary choices have been an evolution strongly influenced by the humanistic values he shared with his late mother. His first academic choice was engineering, but despite his engagement with the subject matter, he soon discovered that he needed more “people interaction.”

After switching to a business major, Irfaan was clearly drawn to the concept of socially responsible marketing, the idea that      companies need to consider what is in the best interests of society, in both the short and long term. Still struggling to identify his niche, he then completed a Bachelor of Science degree in preparation for a teaching career.

Irfaan’s ability to adapt, coupled with his strong sense of purpose will undoubtedly bode well for him in an educational career. In considering his future, Irfaan explains that his vision is “continuing to evolve the more I talk to others. Educational Research may be in order, but it needs to have some practicality.” When the time is right he will surely know.