Michele Viterise ’09 has brought the HWS philosophy of global citizenship to a new level. Just months after graduation, Viterise departed for Beijing, China to teach English in a pre-kindergarten program.
Viterise knew, like most students, that she wanted to travel following graduation. “Teaching English provided me the opportunity to travel,” she says. “I was particularly interested in China because it is clear that economically and socially, China is an immensely important country to follow.” The Salisbury Center for Career Services put Viterise in contact with alum Katelyn Cassel l ’07, a former teacher in the Expertise Education Program. Viterise was placed at Ke Er International Kindergarten in Beijing for the following year.
The program follows the Montessori Method, child-centered and directed. Viterise describes her job as cultivating an English environment for the children so they are able to explore the English language and Western culture. Her students range in age from 18 months to three years. Each day she begins at 8 a.m., engaging her students in English, singing songs, reading books and organizing art projects until the end of school at 5 p.m.
Viterise earned her B.A. in history and political science, with a minor as a writing colleague. She co-founded a chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) on campus in 2007. The national organization supports young people as they raise issues that address global challenges. Her activism and involvement in various other activities at the Colleges, such as Koshare and working in the Writing Colleague program, provided her a solid base for her work beyond graduation, she says.
She notes that throughout her time at HWS she became aware of her global citizenship, particularly because of the atmosphere of service at the Colleges. “I was inspired to consider the ways in which I could give back as the global citizen I had become.”