Flagship Program – Teacher Education Institute

The Teacher Education Institute (TEI) is a month-long intellectual, cultural, and professional exchange program for secondary school teachers from eight countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Through class sessions, research projects, and visits to cultural and educational sites, participants developed innovative teaching methodologies and practices for creating and sustaining educational environments.  By the time of their return at the end of the summer, participants acquired new tools and pedagogies to engage their students in the learning process, to enhance critical and creative thinking, and to foster student involvement in both local and global communities. This Institute is typically jointly implemented with an American University during the month of July. UME University partners have included Boston College, Simmons College and American University.

With a typical acceptance rate of less than 5%, the TEI gathers some of the most elite educators from throughout the Middle East and North Africa for this intensive month long program in the United States. Following the TEI, program participants become UME alumni and are eligible for further UME programs, conferences and trainings in the MENA region. 

A brief summary of a typical TEI can be found below.

Opening Ceremony at Simmons College
Opening Ceremony at Simmons College


The first week of this year’s TEI was quite eventful. Participants arrived to 4th of July celebrations complete with BBQ’s and firework viewing.  They then started classes and finished the week with a site visit to the Massachussetts State House where UME friend and supporter Representative Denise Provost hosted participants.  Key members of the education committee came to discuss issues that are universal and context specific that educators face.
Executive Director Ray Matsumiya, Representative Provost
and Mohammed Makhfi


During the second week, Mr. Tom Johnston, Senior Program Officer of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, spent several days in Boston with TEI participants and staff, engaging in a lively dialogue about the participants’ impressions of the U.S., and exchanging ideas around education and development in the MENA region.
Tom Johnston, center, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State


Every year, UME organizes a scavenger hunt that takes the participants through Boston’s landmarks and historical sites. Divided in four multi-national groups, the TEI participants braved the heat to ultimately do a fantastic job at finishing all the assigned tasks and familiarizing themselves with some of Boston’s most renowned historical sites.
Discovering Boston through a Scavenger Hunt


One of the Teacher Education Institute’s yearly traditions is a luncheon hosted by UME friends and supporters, Bob Frank and Jennifer Coplon, at their Boston residence. After a Discover Roxbury tour of the history of Roxbury, participants gathered at Jennifer and Bob’s for a delicious meal and exciting exchange among friends and colleagues from throughout the U.S. and MENA. UME was especially honored Mel King, a civil rights activist famous for founding the South End Technology Center, attended this event. He brought a unique perspective and dialogue to the afternoon.
Lunch hosted at the home of Professors Bob Frank and Jennifer Coplon
Over the course of the month-long intellectual, cultural and professional exchange program, through hands-on class sessions, research projects and visits to cultural and educational sites, participants developed innovative teaching methodologies and acquired new tools and pedagogies to actively engage their students in the learning process, enhance critical and creative thinking, and foster student involvement in their local and global communities.
TEI faculty members were leading scholars and practitioners drawn from universities and institutions in the northeastern United States, with backgrounds from throughout the world.
Participants engaging in a class about critical pedagogy.


A site visit was held at Newton North where participants interacted with classrooms about thier educational experiences.
Participants posing with the Chelsea Youth Collaborative Activists during a site visit showing how an organization creates youth engagement using limited resources.


A living statue created by the youth of Teen Empowerment and participants during a site visit highlighting the implementation of interactives as a teaching tool.


The UME annual Summer Celebration was a wonderful evening of dynamic exchange among TEI participants, UME supporters, friends, staff, Board members and faculty, as well as distinguished invited guests. Executive Director Ray Matsumiya and Representative Denise Provost addressed the group about the significance of programs like TEI and also other partnerships forged by UME facilitated through the Sister City exchange programs.

Gala Celebration at Simmons College
The Teacher Education Institute culminated in a remarkable Professional Development Conference in Washington D.C.  The group was hosted by American University where they toured and participated in sessions at the United States Institute of Peace. Participants highlighted their teaching talents while presenting group projects at the El Hibri Foundation at the interactive professional development conference. Multinational and multi-disciplinary groups of participants presented interactive educational workshops that they developed throughout the Institute, with the support of TEI core faculty member Yamila Hussein. Themes ranged from virtual learning communities in the classroom to motivation and engagement in the classroom.
Professional Development conference group presentations at the El Hibri Foundation
Groups presented innovative ideas that combined the concepts explored in the classroom througout the month.