March 11, 2015//
Meet Kalpana Iyengar. She'll soon have the opportunity to combine two aspects she's most passionate about during the San Antonio Writing Project's summer trip to India: professional development and her native country.
If you provide an opportunity for diverse students to talk about their culture, it activates the child's prior knowledge and gives students an opportunity to share their cultural heritage.”
– Kalpana Iyengar
"My dream was to take the Writing Project to a rural university in India, where there is a lack of access to technology and professional development activities," said Iyengar, who received her Ph.D. from UTSA. "These teachers often educate 200 students at a time. Just imagine the impact we will have exponentially if we reach even five or six teachers or students aspiring to become educators."
Her love of writing and reading began at a young age. She, too, was a young girl raised by a single mother (a Montessori teacher) in rural India getting by with fewer resources than her relatives in urban locations.
Iyengar laughs when she talks about being named the Elocution Queen at the Girl Guide Jamboree when she was in eighth grade in Karnataka, India. She's taken that same passion she had as a child for rhetoric and writing all the way to a Ph.D. at UTSA.
"Roxanne Henkin, director of the San Antonio Writing Project, and UTSA have helped me grow from where I was to where I am today," she said.
Iyengar moved to San Antonio in 2000 and started teaching at the Alamo Community Colleges and St. Mary's University before pursuing her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at UTSA.
After graduating as a San Antonio Writing Project teacher consultant, she knew she could do much more by researching topics related to the way children and their teachers learn in India. That is what she will be focused on this summer along with her dissertation chair and another doctoral student from ILT. The group will be at Devsanskruthi University in Haridwar, Uttarachal.
The Project serves as an avenue for professional development that helps teachers teach other teachers the importance of writing across curriculum.
"There is a myth out there that writing concerns only English teachers," Iyengar said. The Writing Project helps change that, she added. SAWP can transform teachers not only in San Antonio, but also across the world.
Also the founder of Kahani Project, an event the San Antonio Writing Project hosts with the India Association of San Antonio, Iyengar stresses the importance of everyone, including Asian Indian American children, sharing their individual stories.
"If you provide an opportunity for diverse students to talk about their culture, it activates the child's prior knowledge and gives students an opportunity to share their cultural heritage. They are the experts in the subject matter and they will become more articulate and confident in sharing with their peers. This is one way to teach cultural awareness and tolerance in schools," Iyengar said.
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