Teacher Education and Christian Education Meet in Indonesia
January 11, 2013 - A hill on the island of Java, above the northern shore of Semarang, Indonesia, was a new setting for Nancy Easley, Associate Professor of Education at Union University’s Germantown location, who had traveled overseas to teach.
In the spring of 2012, Easley, and her husband, Ken, were invited to each teach two classes in the graduate programs at STBI, a Southern Baptist Seminary operated by the Indonesian Baptist Convention.
For two weeks, the couple taught courses each night for five hours. While her husband taught in the Christian Studies program, Easley taught private school teachers in the Christian Education program, with the help of a translator.
Easley, who has been teaching since 1985, has been teaching at Union’s School of Education since January 1998 and is the longest term education faculty member at the Germantown campus. Prior to joining Union’s faculty, Easley taught in public schools for the deaf for about 10 years.
Easley chose to become a teacher after a young, autistic boy caught her attention one year in Vacation Bible School at her church.
“This ignited my passion for teaching and thus teaching the deaf,” said Easley. “Later, when our son was a baby, I was invited to teach in a teacher education program.”
The opportunity for Easley and her husband to travel to Indonesia came to her after a former doctoral seminary student of her husband’s, Robinson Rumin, invited them to come and teach in the spring of 2012, but the Easley’s schedules did not allow them to travel until September of this year.
The seminary was started by Baptists in late 1950 and changed over to Indonesian operation in the late 1990s. With American professors augmenting their faculty, professors from other Southern Baptist Convention institutions are occasionally invited to support the ongoing work at SBTI.
In preparation for the upcoming teaching experience, Easley researched and prepared lecture and resources the summer before the trip and designed the course and presentations. She also did her background research on Indonesia’s climate of education and other elements of the country’s culture.
Before the Easleys were able to depart for their trip, they had to fulfill the requirements to receive entrance into the country.
“Indonesian government required our doctorate in teaching field, ability to teach graduate students, positive review by graduate students to be able to return and to affirm that [we] had no bias against Indonesia,” said Easley.
While in Indonesia, the Easleys stayed on campus in a small, two-room apartment for two weeks. On weekends, they traveled among Baptist churches, teaching and working with small groups and preaching throughout the city.
Since the return, Easley has become an approved as a visiting professor to the seminary.
“An articulation of agreement of working together between Union University and the seminary is under consideration at this time,” said Easley. “[This] would encourage other professors to go and encourage Indonesian professors to come here for brief periods and might reveal opportunities for students to travel, as well.”
Easley’s trip to Indonesia also broadens the work of the School of Education in diverse settings and with diverse students.
Alana Hu, a Union University undergraduate student and public relations major, served as a guest author for this article.