One of the major goals of the AAECA is to initiate and support teacher and student exchanges between the USA and Austria. Our newest project in this field is an exchange program for American student teachers who come to Austria as teaching assistants. They work in primary and secondary grade classes, assisting classroom teachers in EFL – English as a Foreign Language.
Program Goals and Benefits for American Students
Program Goals and Benefits for the Austrian Schools
Currently, the AAECA cooperates with the following American universities for the Starts Assistans Progamme:
The Stars Assistants Program provides LIU students with the opportunity to teach in an Austrian (Viennese) classroom, while developing their professional and leadership skills in the field of international education, including a cross-cultural focus on children. LIU students have a full itinerary during their stay in Vienna, so they get to know the beautiful city. Austrian culture and history, as well as the differences in languages, traditions and world views, are explored with the students during field trips throughout their residency.
Stars Assistants LIU 2018
20 May 2018 to 15 June 2018, the Stars Assistans Programme in cooperation with the Long Island University has successfully been piloted in twenty-one elementary schools in Vienna. The project has been implemented thanks to the generous support of the MAX KADE FOUNDATION. Also Mag. Jürgen Czernohorszky, Executive City Councilor for Education, Integration, Youth and Personnel at the City of Vienna, the district governors of the 16th and 23rd Viennese district, Mag. Julian Jäger at the Flughafen Wien AG, the University College of Teacher Education Vienna and the Board of Education for Vienna contributed to the success of the programme.
Last – but not least – the Stars Assistants Programme LIU 2018 would not have been possible without the support of the 21 elementary schools, the directors, mentor teachers, pupils and the Stars Assistants from Long Island University, who successfully carried out the assigned tasks in this pilot program.
Some American Testimonials:
“This is a great experience if you want to be a teacher. Overall – it is great to meet new people and explore new places. Very organised and very nice people. Thank you.”
“This was honestly an incredible experience for me, especially as a future educator. It has really inspired me to continue on the path of education and gave me the practice in the classroom. Anyone thinking of doing this should really take the opportunity. It is eye- opening and unforgettable. If given the chance I would 100% participate again! Thank you so much for everything!”
“This trip helped me understand that European nations struggle with migration and families fleeing from their dangerous home countries. For me, it taught me a great deal about international relationships and the difficult integration process. A big eye opener!”
“Amazing and humbling experience. I learned so much about these children and their school system. I would love this opportunity, if I was able to go again.”
“I really enjoyed the program, it was a great learning experience for my future teaching career. It was great to see the difference between American and Austrian schools.”
“I hope you realise how grateful we are that you chose us for this experience. I can’t thank you enough for this invaluable opportunity.”
The AAECA has also an ongoing Stars Assistants Programme cooperation with the Center for Global Engagement of Mercy College, New York. The Stars Assistants Mercy College Programme has successfully been piloted in Sta. Christiana Frohsdorf, Lower Austria.
An American student about her unique experience in Austria:
„My experience in Austria has been a life-changing one. I haven’t just been learning about the children in St. Christiana School, but I am also learning about a new culture—including trying tasty new foods. Not surprisingly, I have learned more about myself and my reactions to new situations. I have been in Austria for five weeks now, and I must say that I feel like I am a different person from the American college student who arrived right after the spring semester ended. The unfamiliar was, at first, challenging; however, I have always been up for new experiences, so I was ready and open to learn. I do believe that in order to grow as individuals we all need to get out of our comfort zones. I never had an issue with traveling and exposing myself to the unknown—in fact, I truly enjoy doing that, it almost makes me feel like a true explorer. Nonetheless, I am a city girl, a New York City girl to be exact, and everything–such as stores, restaurants, and public transportation—tends to be “nearby.” Living in Lazenkirchen, Austria has been unusual for me because it’s a smaller city where in order to get places you need a car—or two strong legs to do a lot of walking! I am thankful though, because I have been living like any Austrian citizen and not like a “tourist” in Vienna! I love working at St. Christiana School, speaking English to the students, and contributing during the English lessons. They seem to enjoy learning and always ask as many questions about the United States as possible. I watch how enthusiastic they are when America is the topic. It sincerely makes me feel great because I am contributing to the knowledge base of these young people from a personal perspective.“
The Stars Assistants Programme has been originally developed in close cooperation with the College of Education of the University of New Mexico (UNM). It has successfully been piloted in the 23rd district of Vienna. Since 2012, UNM STARS ASSISTANTS were teaching in several schools in Vienna as well as in the provinces of Burgenland and Lower Austria. In 2018, schools from Vienna and Lower Austria participated in the program. Six student teachers were selected by the University of New Mexico to teach in Austria.
2016 was the first year that student teachers from Austria were offered the opportunity to spend a month teaching in New Mexico. In 2018, schools from Vienna and Lower Austria participated in the program. Six student teachers were selected by the University of New Mexico to teach in Austria and four student teachers from the University College of Teacher Education Vienna (PH Wien) spent one month teaching in schools in Albuquerque.
Benefits of the exchange program