Nature Play Corps Intern, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Manteo, North Carolina
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 
How Assir Abushouk got involved with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
I interned with the US fish and Wildlife Service through the Nature Play Corps program. This program used both Education and Design to help children fall in love with nature.
 
Experience
Every Friday for an hour and a half children would enter our play habitats that we designed for them and would just play! But I think one of the experiences that I will never forget is the story behind my profile picture. This boy was with a group of his classmates and they were designing masks using natural materials and then had the opportunity to pretend to be those animals. A few minutes into the creation of the masks many of the students had so many elements to their masks and were having a lot of fun, but this boy's mask was completely empty. So I went up to him and asked him what was up, he said to me very frustrated with himself " I don't know where to start". So I took him away from the other students and asked him guiding questions like "what animal would you like to be?'' and "what around you do you see that we could use to make that animal?". Little by little this young boy started putting together this beautiful mask and before I knew it he was playing pretend with the other children. Seeing a child succeed even in the environment of play in nature makes me feel like I have chosen the right career path.
 
Assir Abushouk's accomplishments
I have accomplished more over this three week internship then I have ever before. My accomplishments I believe come from what I have observed and learned about nature and children in it. I have learned that children regulate themselves, they learn from one another, they protect each other from harm and trouble with the mean adults, and welcome one another to play freely within ones play space. This lesson has taught me a lot about what kind of roll I am going to play professionally as a teacher of mathematics. If children in nature can teach each other and regulate themselves, then students in a classroom have the ability to do the same, my job is to create an environment for such learning to occur. One such environment is not one of rows and columns.
 
Assir Abushouk's next steps
More internships that help me fully understand the potential of education in nature, and nature in education, is defiantly something I would be interested in for the short term. However, My long term goal is to see the education move away from the lecturing teacher in the front of the classroom, to one that uses nature and the world to help invigorate students minds about how to solve some of our biggest challenges. There are patterns in nature that we have used to advanced the world to what we see today, and if we do not continue to observe nature we can not advance any more. Sir Isaac Newton would not have discovered gravity if it was not for the apple that fell on his head. Our students can not discover more of these patterns and phenomena sitting in a padded classroom looking at nature through the pains in the window. It is my goal in life to see education flip on its head and help students learn math, science, literature, and history through nature and learn that the world is theirs. Children are our future and if they learn how to protect nature, learn from nature, and play in nature, then both our species and our world will advance. I will need the lessons from internships like the Nature Play Corps and others that I hope to do to help me reach this goal but with a little hope education will never be the same.
 
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
School: North Carolina State University
Major: Secondary Mathematics Education & Statistics