Armstrong Teacher Instructs Students in Republic of Georgia
It was a last-minute invitation and required last minute blessings of the principal (and his wife), but Robbinsdale Armstrong High School AP Economics teacher James Redelsheimer found himself on a plane headed to the Republic of Georgia for a 12-day trip to teach – and learn more – about world economics.
Taking part in the Visiting Educators Program, Redelsheimer spent 12 days in the former communist-controlled country attending lectures by Georgian professors, giving lectures on the U.S. economy to university students, and learning more about the people, history and culture of Georgia. The dean at Batumi State University, whom Redelsheimer met in 2008 during his first visit to Georgia with the National Council of Economics Education (NCEE), recommended Redelsheimer for the program.
“It was an all-expenses-paid trip,” explained Redelsheimer, who teaches economics, AP Microeconomics, and AP Macroeconomics at Armstrong. “But I needed the permission of Principal Dahl, who has been so supportive. This trip benefitted my students and helped me be a much better teacher, as it gave my students and me a first-person view of Georgia’s history and economy, and how the 2008 war with Russia has affected and still is affecting the country.”
Georgia is moving from a communist to market-based economy. It’s a tough transition, Redelsheimer reflected, but the president has forward-thinking ideas for the country, and is turning more toward Europe and the United States than Russia for its future. Students in the country want to learn about America, and all students in elementary school are required to learn English. Georgia is bringing English teachers into the country to help them compete in the global economy.
“I did my research before I left,” Redelsheimer explained. “Georgia has its own alphabet. It has a rich cultural history, and was the first wine-making country in the world. The people there are the warmest and most inviting people I’ve met. They are so willing to help out. Also, there are not many Americans who visit Georgia!”
Redelsheimer was bringing a lot back for his students. Gaining first-hand experience of the transition from a Communist economy to a market-based economy is a unique experience. “I took so many pictures! I am able to create exciting lessons for my Economics classes and also for World History classes. I am able to teach about the cultural aspect of economic development and reform, and I have greater knowledge with which to teach globalization.”
Memories? Redelsheimer has a plethora of those. “I’ll remember the beautiful scenery - the country is right on the Black Sea –which is gorgeous. I’ll also remember the fantastic Georgian feasts, and the many, many toasts made for peace, family, and friends.”