Published: May 28, 2013

"Very few people truly understand or can comprehend how rewarding and confidence boosting it is to make a difference in a young person’s life.  The idea that this kid may be thinking of you and thanking you for the rest of his or her life is invaluable and will provide you with satisfaction for the rest of your life," says Sarah Navidi, one of two Japan interns who participated in this year's "It's Elementary" Service Project (IESP).

For the sixteenth year, the Program for Teaching East Asia (TEA) at the Center for Asian Studies continued the “It’s Elementary” Service Project.  CU students studying Japan, China, or India served Boulder Valley kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade classrooms where Japan, China, and India content is taught.  Four undergraduate students, two for Japan, one for China, and one for India spent the spring semester 2013 sharing their expertise in Chinese, Japanese and Indian languages and cultures with kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students in Boulder Valley Schools.  The interns for 2013 were, for China: Keron Hoetzel; for India: Meagan Mahaffy; and for Japan: Sarah Navidi and Summer Soutari. The students began their internship in January with several training and lesson development sessions with TEA staff, Julie Kang and Catherine Ishida.  Approximately 1075 students received instruction on China, India or Japan through this project this year.

Interns point out many benefits the program provides, one of which is close connection to the community they live in.  “I now feel more connected to the community because I better understand how other people outside of my social bubble live.  For example, I usually only see college students and interact with professors.  However, through this course I have gotten to see the lives of the first graders, elementary school teachers, and parents that live in the same community as me.  Teaching in schools made me feel more involved and like I was contributing a service to the children of my community," says Sarah, the Japan intern. 

The internship course (ASIA 4930) will be offered again in Spring 2014.  For more information about participating in the program as an intern or requesting an intern for your elementary classroom, please contact Julie Kang at

It's Elementary Service Project Spring 2013

Picture (left to right): Catherine Ishida (Program for Teaching East Asia), Keron Hoetzel (China intern), Meagan Mahaffy (India intern), Sarah Navidi (Japan intern), Summer Soutari (Japan intern), Julie Kang (Center for Asian Studies)