Alumni Spotlight: Ryker McIntyre


Ryker is a Computer Science student at Notre Dame. Through his travels, he has found that Climate Change isn't cool.

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to do a WorldTeach summer program from the start, so all that was left to do was choose a specific program. The first thing that grabbed my attention about the WorldTeach India program was the intense beauty of the pictures (shoutout to Behzad!). After living in Ladakh for two months, I can attest that it is truly the most beautiful place you will ever visit.

After digging deeper into the content of all the programs, I found that the India program best suited my interests and needs. I am passionate about Climate Change, and teaching and learning about it is an integral part of volunteering in Ladakh. In addition, as a Computer Scientist, the component of Computer Literacy education was relevant to my work.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My university sponsored the funding needed to do the program, and they also gave a few orientations to prepare everybody they funded for summer travel. WorldTeach was very organized in everything that they did, and I really only had to organize my own plane tickets. All of the travel, accommodations, and support was provided by WorldTeach's partner organization in India. I only had to plan my personal travel at the end.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Try to do some Science education – scientific method for the older kids, fun little experiments for the younger ones, especially on Climate Change since it has such a big effect here (even though they are already super renewable).

Bring slides! (The slip-on flip flop things)

Check out the Tulip Series books, and ask your middle school teachers for some techniques on teaching.

Bring plenty of gifts that reflect your home! The homestay people will love it.

Set up a teacher work shop. Take legitimate initiative from the start, make sure teachers (especially the Principal, for your sake, or time table) show up. Teachers in government schools often skip classes since their job is more secure.

Always make sure you get what you paid for, especially when exchanging money. Also, always bargain down the price of whatever you’re buying, and go shopping with one of the WT staff.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On an average school day, I would wake up early and eat breakfast with my host family before walking to school. At school (preschool to eighth grade), I had a class every single period, and the subjects taught were mostly English and Computer Literacy. We would all eat lunch at school, and after that, the other volunteers and I ran teacher workshops for English, Computer, Writing, and Teaching Skills.

After school, I would either plan for lessons for the days to come, or go on other adventures with community members and the other volunteers (village life offers SO much to do, actually). On the weekends, we would often go on hikes in the beautiful Himalayas or visit other villages and monasteries.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was mostly afraid of being away from the comforts of home for so long. In the villages we would stay at in Ladakh, there weren't facilities like the ones we have in the Western world (flushing toilets, hot showers, etc.). However, after being there for only a short amount of time, I became accustomed to the changes, and so did the other volunteers!

The way the Ladakhis live is more simple, and it was refreshing to live in this culture for so long. In the end, it was really tough to leave this lifestyle, and re-entering the US was much more difficult than adjusting to life in rural Ladakh.

What were your most memorable experiences during the trip?

One of my most memorable experiences occurred on the final day of our volunteer service. We, and the other teachers, held a meeting with all the parents and grandparents of the village. The three of us, volunteers, had the opportunity to leave them with some final words of gratitude and encouragement for how they could continue developing their education system after we go. Many of them expressed their gratitude for our service, and there were many tears, gifts, and songs for us. It was shocking to see how much our service meant to these people, since we believed that the weight of our service was minimal due to the brevity of the summer experience.

Another one of my most memorable experiences involved teaching the seventh graders. I had them, four girls, twice a day for English, and once a day for a combined fifth, sixth, and seventh grade Computer Literacy class. The first couple of weeks were incredibly awkward and difficult. They really didn't seem to understand as much as I expected them to understand, being seventh graders. Plus, they were very shy and didn't want to answer any of my questions. Sometimes, we would spend long periods of time in silence while I waited for them to utter an answer in English even remotely close to the actual answer.

I decided that it was important that I try to make a point of encouraging confidence. By the last week, they would speak confidently in English, even if their answer was incorrect, and this made me very happy. We even were able to study paragraph structure and use this for a full-on debate on the last day of school. Which animals are better, cows or yaks?