Elisabeth “Lissy” Hodge ’16 pushed herself to a new level this past summer when she assumed a leadership role at an educational nonprofit in Mauritius, Africa.
A Davis International Fellow, she traveled to Mauritius, a mainly French-speaking island east of Madagascar in Africa, to serve as program director for an English education program run by Learning Enterprises (LE), an international nonprofit. During the previous summer, she had volunteered at LE as a teacher.
“My experience as program director was very different than my role as a volunteer last year. I had a lot more control and was able to structure the Mauritius program the way that I wanted,” she said of the seven-week fellowship.
As program director, her responsibilities included creating the LE-Mauritius Web page; interviewing and recruiting volunteers; identifying and matching host families with volunteers; overseeing instruction; leading and organizing a midpoint break; and closing the program.
“It was definitely hard, but very rewarding in the end,” she said.
The schools in Mauritius are quite different than the ones Hodge had previously worked in; for instance, she served as a teacher assistant at a private preparatory school in Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Mo. In Mauritius, the schools are strict and test-oriented.
“The best way that we were able to work with the students was by playing fun games,” she said.
Hodge also encountered vibrant multiculturalism in her work in the classroom. Children included people of Creole “true African” descent, Hindis, Chagos and Chinese. They were eager to share their culture with the volunteers and learn about the volunteers’ backgrounds, Hodge said.
Hodge’s education and work experience at Wheaton prepared her to take on more administrative and teaching responsibilities as program director. As a college student, she completed courses in teaching English language learners. Also, she served as tour guide and ambassador coordinator in Wheaton’s Office of Admission, which strengthened her ability to communicate with all walks of life.
Hodge is a leader in Wheaton’s Theatre and Dance Department as well. She serves as co-captain of the Wheaton College Dance Company and is a teaching assistant to Cheryl Mrozowski, professor and director of dance, for ballet.
“She is a mature young woman who leads by example and organizes her priorities for maximum effect,” Mrozowski said. “She is also a thoughtful person. She is hard-working and pays great attention to detail.”
While engaging in administrative work strengthened her professional skills, Hodge said her favorite activity remains teaching in front of a classroom. “I might eventually move toward the education administration sector, but teaching and working with students is my passion,” she said.
Post graduation, Hodge plans to teach abroad so she has more opportunities to experience other cultures.
“This experience has really validated my desire to be a teacher and shown me that regardless of the different culture, language and religion, children still learn in similar ways,” said Hodge.