Round Rock Opportunity Center teacher Tina Steiner-Johnson traveled to Sri Lanka this summer as part of The South Asia Institute at the University of Texas K-16 Educators Travel Program.
Steiner-Johnson received a $1,000 grant from the University of Texas South Asia Institute for a thematic lesson plan, which was completed during the trip. The two-week trip was also in partnership with the Global Exploration for Educators Organization, a nonprofit group dedicated to encouraging and assisting educators travel abroad and share their experience with students, according to the organization.
Steiner-Johnson said her goal is to share her real-world experience and influence our next generation to be more understanding and empathetic toward global issues.
“I highly recommend all teachers participate in a study abroad program at some point,” Steiner-Johnson said. “Using the knowledge from the trip, I created a whole unit ranging from reading, science, and math that will expand my students’ view of the world.”
The tour of Sri Lanka consisted of eight cities and included tours through the Uda Walwale Wildlife Reserve and the Hikkaduwa Beach.
Steiner-Johnson said her favorite part of the trip was having lunch with a local family who recently built a new home. Not only was it humbling, but the group had an opportunity to see what day-to-day life in Sri Lanka was like, she said.
“Tina’s trip to Sri Lanka is an outward manifestation of her true desire to not only educate but empower today’s youth to reach their full potential,” said Rene Posey, Round Rock Opportunity Center principal. “Her life’s journey is marked by those many young people who have turned to her for support, knowledge, guidance and love.”
Although Steiner-Johnson did not know anyone else in the program, she said she seized the opportunity to expand her comfort zone and travel the world.
“I teach social skills as well and tell my students that it’s okay to take risks,” Steiner-Johnson said. “I’m so happy I took the risk to travel abroad because it was an amazing opportunity. I want my students to know that it’s okay to do things you have not done before.”