Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Peace Corps Volunteer Steven Weiland by Mike Prochaska

Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Peace Corps Volunteer Steven Weiland

Steven Weiland talked to me about his experience in the Peace Corps in Uganda (it sounds like something we all should do at least once in our lives!). Steve lives in Washington, D.C.

Q. How did you get into this field?

“I got into the field of community development following my first volunteer work experience in Uganda, where I had the opportunity to serve as a Community Education Advocate at the Nalusse Primary School.”

Q. Why is play important for children?

“Play is important for children in that it allows them to build relationships with their peers, as well as utilize their creativity and imagination which is vital in their long-term growth."

Q. What did you do in the Peace Corps? 

“During my Peace Corps service in The Gambia, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Gambians, within the community of Seno Bajonki, on several community/education initiatives included the establishment of the Seno Bajonki Community Library and Learning Center and the implementation of the Seno Bajonki Lower Basic School Vision Care Pilot Project. More importantly I had the opportunity to live with a Gambian host family, build meaningful relationships throughout the community, learn a new language and gain insight into a beautiful culture.”

Q. What did you learn while working in the Peace Corps? 

“The most important lesson I learned during my Peace Corps service was the importance of slowing down and prioritizing relationship building over the schedules and demands that work places on us.”

Q. What is your favorite memory working with kids? 

“My favorite memory working with kids came at the end of my volunteer service as a Kids Connection program coordinator at Calvary Church. The outpouring of love and support from the volunteers, staff and children whom we served reminded me of the bond that was formed over my years of service, as well as my firm belief that those bonds cannot be broken by time our space. That their imprint on my heart will journey with me wherever I go.” 

Q. Did you hear about the man who got fired for just being male? How do you feel about that? 

“I am not familiar with that story. I would note that regarding gender, males across the globe predominantly find themselves in a position of authority in comparison to females. However, I believe Martin Luther King illustrates this point eloquently when he stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’”

Q. What’s your favorite book you read to a classroom? 

“My favorite book to read to a classroom is 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein. It is filled with lessons on so many levels applicable within so many grade levels."

Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field? 

“The most important aspect to building community is the foundation of trust, which can only be formed through meaningful relationships. Through this, the community will remain at the center of the process, both while you are there and after you have journeyed on."

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“The most important lesson I learned during my Peace Corps service was the importance of slowing down and prioritizing relationship building over the schedules and demands that work places on us.” How wonderful, Mike Prochaska - loving all these perspectives!

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