Junior Krishna Jayaram adapts to complete global citizenship internship during pandemic


Courtesy of Krishna Jayaram

Educating and educated — Junior Krishna Jayaram volunteered her time this summer to work with the United Planet organization. Jayaram created lesson plans to teach English to young girls in Romania and educated herself on what it means to be a global citizen.

Sydney Bigelow, Opinions Editor

This summer, junior Krishna Jayaram completed an internship with United Planet in order to better herself as a global citizen and gain teaching experience. Through a computer, Jayaram was connected to students in Romania, and she worked to educate others while educating herself about the importance of being a global citizen. 

United Planet is a non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts that works to globally develop relationships that help various communities. The organization works with more than 30 countries to connect volunteers and give them the skills to teach, learn, and engage in different cultures. 

Due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, volunteers accepted into this program did not have the opportunity to complete this internship abroad. Despite not being able to travel to Romania for the full experience, Jayaram adapted to teach through online video chat.

This program was designed to help her learn the fundamentals of education while helping young students gain knowledge. Although the internship was mostly self-directed, she worked closely with project manager Melanie Tanase and project coordinator Elissa Allen. She discovered the balance of independent work and reaching out for support. 

Twice a week, Jayaram would meet with the two young girls, both in seventh grade, and help their English, specifically grammar. Every time she met with the students, she came prepared with the lesson plans she created. Resources from the program taught her how to create these structured, effective lesson plans. 

On top of the disappointment of not being able to travel to Romania to work in person, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, Jayaram conquered additional challenges while learning through the program. She had to adjust to the language barriers for the Romanian students by slowing down her speaking, working with their translator, and even taking online Romanian classes. 

“When you are working with someone internationally, you have to be aware that their environment is very different from yours. I constantly had to be patient and understand the importance of communication,” Jayaram said. 

In addition to working hard to create and conduct the lessons for the students, Jayaram took the time to educate herself further about global citizenship. She attended several online meetings to further understand the goals of the program and learn how to become a better global citizen. According to the scholarship coordinator Callie Roberts, these meetings were important for Jayaram and helped reach United Planet’s mission is to build a large global community, one volunteer at a time.  

“United Planet provides support by offering pre-program orientation training, introductory calls with project site supervisors, weekly check ins, group reflection sessions, and training around United Planet’s 5 Pillars of Global Citizenship. By joining this program, students learn about international organizations’ mission and challenges, country and regional knowledge, cultural adaptation, how to work in an online setting, new technology platforms, if applicable to their project and tasks, and learn about topics like relational diplomacy, leadership, global understanding, civic engagement, and developing academic and career skills through our global citizenship seminars,” Roberts said. 

The program sophisticated Jayaram’s entry-level tutoring skills and knowledge from working with the Vance Village Tutoring program in New Britain during previous years. Teaching the young girls gave her the opportunity to play games and have conversations with the girls, building real relationships. 

“It’s an eye-opening experience, especially with the technology to see how others adapt in similar or different ways to our online communication. I really enjoy teaching, and after completing this internship I am more likely to consider a career in Education,” Jayaram said. 

This opportunity was provided by United Planet, unitedplanet.org, an international service-learning and leadership nonprofit organization with a mission to create a more united planet, one relationship at a time. United Planet offers both short- and long-term service-learning trips for individuals and groups as well as virtual volunteer and exchange opportunities.