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UW-Eau Claire Student to Teach in Tanzania

RELEASED: June 13, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior from La Valle will spend nearly two months teaching at a primary school in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, this summer thanks to a fellowship for service-learning provided through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

Ashley Geitz, a social work major who received the Mary Roelli Hilfiker Service Fellowship, will work through an international nonprofit agency, Cross Cultural Solutions. She will work with students at Mlingotini Primary School, where she will teach English, math, reading, writing, sports, games and crafts, and she will introduce both the teachers and the children to American culture. The service fellowship will support some of the direct expenses associated with Geitz's project.

"I am most looking forward to the mutual exchange and interest between the children and myself," Geitz said. "They will be trying to learn as much English as possible from me as I am trying to learn as much Swahili as possible from them. We can also teach each other about our lifestyles. I think this mutual curiosity will really help foster some great relationships."

In addition to volunteering, Geitz will receive information on the culture from guest speakers, participate in field trips to neighboring towns and receive Swahili language lessons.

Geitz will also be doing a directed study while in Tanzania, preparing a comparative analysis of child welfare services in Tanzania and the Chippewa Valley. In preparation, she has been volunteering at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin and the Children's Service Society of Wisconsin.

In the future, Geitz hopes to work as an adoption social worker and with international adoptions.

"I really hope that someday I will be able to travel with my work and to meet some of the children I am placing and see the environments they grew up in," Geitz said. "This volunteer service is going to broaden my cultural knowledge and help me be more comfortable in new environments."

Mary Hilfiker, a UW-Eau Claire alumna and an education specialist with the U.S. Department of Education's North Central Comprehensive Center, endowed the Mary Roelli Hilfiker Service Fellowship in 2007. The fellowship is awarded to an outstanding student seeking to complete a service project in Wisconsin, the United States or internationally. Hilfiker also is a member of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation's board of directors.

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