Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Malindi's Journey

New teacher developer Alicia Carroll and Odyssey High School history teacher Lucy Montgomery spent their summers traveling through Malaysia - and blogging about it along the way. Check out "Malindi's Journey" over at This all started with a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship in 2001 and a Fund for Teachers grant in 2004. Below is their report from the trip - and please check out their blog, too!

Alicia Carroll, New Teacher Developer, and Lucy Montgomery, History Teacher, Odyssey High School, were invited to present their research on connections between Africa, China and Islam through the Silk Route trade, and their related children’s book entitled Malindi’s Journey, at the First International Conference on Zheng He, in Melaka, Malaysia from July 5-8, 2010. The theme of the conference was Zheng He and the Afro-Asian World. The conference was organized by the Melaka State Government, the Perbadanan Museum Melaka, Cheng Ho (Zheng He) Cultural Museum and International Zheng He Society (Singapore). Their presentation is a product of our research and writing since 2001, including research conducted in Kenya through a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship (Alicia Carroll) and Fund for Teachers grant in 2004.

Alicia and Lucy were two of 74 paper presenters, including scholars from Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, and US. The conference had over 350 participants, and Alicia and Lucy’s presentation was attended by over 200 people. The conference papers will be published in a book by the International Zheng He Society in 2011.

While at the conference, Alicia and Lucy were interviewed for a newspaper article for the New Straits Times, the major newspaper for Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Sarawak, and Indonesia, by Dr. Rosey Wang Ma, a Research Fellow in the Department of Islamic History and Civilization at the University of Malaya. Dr. Ma asked Alicia and Lucy to speak about their work on African-Chinese connections, turning research into culturally grounded curriculum for global education.

Alicia and Lucy were given first-class treatment by the conference organizers; they were picked up at the airport and given a nice hotel room. At the Zheng He (Cheng Ho) Cultural Museum, they were treated like visiting scholars and dignitaries. Everyone wanted to know how they were affording the trip as teachers, and they were able to proudly say that they had received generous funding from the Fund for Teachers! People remarked that there need to be more organizations like Fund for Teachers to support teachers and their work.

In addition to attending the conference in Melaka, Malaysia, Alicia and Lucy traveled to Singapore and then to Nanjing, China to continue research on Zheng He’s influence in southeast Asia, and to visit the shipyard and other historical sites.

While they travelled, they began writing a blog for teachers and students at:

Dr. Jackie Jenkins-Scott, the President of Wheelock College, invited Alicia, who is a graduate of Wheelock, to make a presentation to students and faculty of the Wheelock College Teacher Training Program at Ngee-Ann Polytechnic University in Singapore. The focus of Alicia’s talk was “Early Childhood Curriculum: and Cultural Competency and Achievement;” Lucy spoke about early childhood as the building block for achievement in the high school classroom.

In Nanjing, Alicia and Lucy were invited to visit the Treasure Boat Shipyard, where a life-size replica of the largest of Zheng He’s ships is currently under construction. They were given a tour of the shipyard by the Director of the shipyard, and invited to the inaugural launch of the ship into the Indian Ocean, anticipated in late 2011!

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