Knowledge Mabasa always knew that she wanted to teach overseas, but she didn’t want to teach English – the subject desired by most international teaching programs. She wanted to teach science, the subject that she studied in college and taught for several years in her home country of South Africa.

One day in early 2022, Mabasa came across Spirit Cultural Exchange, a program that connects teachers to schools around the world, allowing them to teach a range of subjects. She applied to the program in April, and in August, she landed in a sixth grade science classroom at Cedar Park Middle School.

“The kids in my classroom have been amazing and have a lot of curiosity about where I come from,” Mabasa said. “It’s been an amazing learning experience.”

The Spirit Cultural Exchange program allows teachers to gain one to three years of professional educational experience outside of their home country. It also provides their students with the opportunity to learn about a different culture.

The 2021-22 school year was the first year that LISD participated in Spirit Cultural Exchange, with two international teachers coming to teach in the district. For the 2022-23 school year, LISD has 14 international exchange teachers from six different countries teaching in LISD classrooms.

Campus Recruiter Jennifer Dunn said that it has been exciting to meet and build relationships with the international exchange teachers, as well as to observe them sharing their culture with their students and the community.

“It has been so fun to get to know these teachers on a personal and professional level,” Dunn said. “They are sharing their culture while teaching, supporting and building relationships with our LISD students.”

Although she spent several years teaching science in South Africa before coming to Cedar Park, Mabasa said that the start of this school year has increased her love of teaching. 

“It’s hard to figure out my favorite thing about teaching. But what I do like is when the students figure it out – ‘Oh, that’s how you do it!’” Mabasa said. “However they figured it out, whether you guided them to get there or not, it’s just amazing, their excitement about it.”