“The recruit comes from Harvard, and he’s got prestigious training, and he thinks he knows what the community needs,” Liu says. “Maybe he does know, but he needs to get to know the community before he can help them.”
Liu and a team of professors and other twenty-somethings have compiled dozens of case studies on the Teach for America program that have gone wrong, trying to design a training course that can preclude the major pitfalls.
“We were very insecure over these criticisms [on Teach for America], and concerned that we would be doing more harm than good,” Liu says.
“We’ve identified the recruit’s attitude and community contacts as huge factors that determine success. A main focus of our program will be to teach fellows about the specific community they will be teaching in, and those things will be taught by the community members and people who have [taught in those schools],” Liu says.
“That’s hard for Teach for America, because America is big. In Taiwan, it’s not as difficult,” she said.
Teach for Taiwan begins recruiting its first class in February. It will start small, sending teachers into just one community to ensure quality, and then scale up. “We’ll probably start with the east, since that is the first region we researched and where we have the most connections,” Liu says.
The first cohort of fellows will also be small, capped at 15 graduates from Taiwanese universities.
For more information about eligibility, visit www.teach4taiwan.org.