Rachel Reed's GTL students

Rachel's GTL Story

Rachel Reed spent 2 winters in Korea teaching STEM workshops at an orphanage, a school for North Korean defectors, and a rural trade school, and she may have learned more than her students did.

What can an MIT student gain by teaching STEM workshops to underserved students? According to Rachel, they “give you a chance to stop and think about what future you envision for yourself beyond the confines of MIT.”

She'd already taught as a TA at MIT for several years, but “teaching students with limited English forced me to learn how to take complex scientific subjects like fluid dynamics and break it down and explain it using as few words as possible in a way students could understand. This really helped me become a better engineer and educator.”


Rachel Reed (’16), David Sessoms (’15), Sami Alsheikh (’16), Feyza Haskaraman (’16), and the students they taught talk about their experiences in MIT-Korea’s GTL, run in partnership with Korean education non-profit Dream Touch For All.

Working in groups, students learned concepts and then designed their own models--ranging from cooking spam in solar cookers they'd built to making lie detector tests to solve a murder mystery.

The end result was unexpected: “Students who were usually silent were coming out of their workshops excited about learning and were suddenly interested in science,”  Rachel said. “When we started these workshops, we asked the students what they wanted to study in college and what they wanted to be when they grew up. In return, we would get these baffled stares. They told us they weren’t given the opportunity to have dreams because of their circumstances; their dream was to work in a factory."

"But at the end of the month, we had all of these students telling us how they wanted to become PE teachers or businessmen now. Our workshops had given them the space and time to think outside the confines of their situation and realize that they were capable of accomplishing so much more than they thought possible.”

Rachel Reed at BTGT
“After two visits to Korea, I’ve been able to learn more than I ever could have imagined. Getting to watch students grow and blossom into the young adults they are is truly a wonderful experience. They have taught me so much about Korean culture and exposed me to many different viewpoints and styles of living. I am forever grateful for my students and all that they imparted on me."
Rachel Reed, '16
Major & Class Year
Mechanical Engineering '16
Seoul, Busan, & Paju, Korea
MISTI Program
Global Teaching Labs
Yeomyung School, Segyeong High School, & Boy's Town
Brandon Le with students

Brandon's GTL Story