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Through Dickinson, I applied for and received a week-long externship over our winter break.  It was an immersive experience—I’d be staying with a Dickinson family who was hosting the externship, which seemed terrifying at first.  Although I’d be doing it with another Dickinson student, I was, understandably, still terrified to get on a plane, fly to Georgia, and stay with a family I’d never met before for a week.  My externship involved visiting public schools and shadowing administrators in a little town in Georgia.  The parents seemed perfectly nice, but I was still worried.  

My experience was far better than I could have ever imagined.  While there I was greeted by the loveliest family.  The parents brought us to their district’s schools, and I gained valuable information about the public education system in general (its strengths and its faults).   What made the educational system in their town so successful was that they utilized their relationship with the University of Georgia, giving education majors at the university opportunities for hands-on experiences in public schools while giving the district’s students access to more adults in the classroom who could give each child more individualized attention.   I learned that implementing educational policies requires understanding context about the schools.  Sound educational policy also takes a lot of time, money, and resources, which most low-income districts simply don’t have. I also learned that not every child wants to graduate high school in the same way, but every child deserves to earn a diploma in the way that makes the most sense for his or her passions and ambitions. 

Every person I met there was accommodating, whether it was answering questions I had or sharing their experiences as teachers, administrators, and mentors to the children in the district.  These people piqued my interest in education and educational policy, and although I am still not sure what I want to do after college, I know I’ve found something I care deeply about.  And to top it all off, every meal there was delicious AND the family I stayed with had four adorable dogs.  My week flew by, and I am so grateful for my host family, the people I met, the stories I listened to, and the lessons I will take with me for whatever I decide to do next.  

Devon Carlson

Dickinson '20

Devon is a junior at Dickinson College, majoring in Political Science and Educational Studies. At Dickinson, she involves herself in a cappella and soccer, but outside of her school work and extracurriculars, she has a very strong passion for coffee and all things related to The Office.
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