A conversation with Deb Abshier
The Sister School Exchange program has spent 15 years bringing together young urban and rural Alaskans and fostering cross-cultural communication. During the program, a teacher and five students from a rural community are matched with a teacher and five students from urban Alaska to work through a 6-8 week curriculum on cross-cultural understanding, culminating in a two-way exchange during which each group spends a week living in the other’s community. In an effort to meet the needs of the participating teachers and students, a team composed of teachers and Alaska Humanities Forum staff is currently working to create a new program curriculum, set for release in October. One team member, Ms. Deb Abshier, has been teaching Spanish at Begich Middle School for eight years and participated in six SSE exchanges, and believes that it is the most impactful program she has ever done with her students. Last week, Ms. Abshier agreed to speak with Alaska Humanities Forum intern Lillian Maassen about the program, the new curriculum, and the innovation behind it all.