WILLIAMSTOWN -- Kazuyo Yoshida has advice for anyone looking to learn about worldwide poverty -- travel to a developing country.
Yoshida, 24, who is originally from Osaka, Japan, recently returned to the U.S. after teaching preschool for six months in Samfya, a town in the Luapula province of Zambia, Africa.
While there, she became immersed in the community, she said in an interview on Wednesday.
"I talked to my neighbors, and we even cooked together," she said.
Yoshida was a participant in a program at the One World Center, formerly known as the Institute for International Cooperation and Development (IICD), a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers people to take action against worldwide poverty.
The organization operates a location on Hancock Road in Williamstown. The other locations are Dowagiac, Mich., and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean.
Yoshida said she noticed many differences between the Zambian and Japanese education systems.
"In Japan, there's a system where one teacher works with a maximum of three children," she said.
In Zambia, it was common for teachers to work with 150 students, she said.
In addition, many teachers couldn't afford to attend college and only had a high school education.
She explained the school she taught at was located in a church basement and had no materials.
"[Teachers] just used a blackboard, and had them repeat [after them]," she said. "It was very boring for students They learn from doing and playing."
Yoshida introduced a variety of interactive teaching tools into the classroom that weren't commonly used.
She used games to teach concepts such as colors and shapes, she said, and taught students a song similar to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."
She also taught students origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.
The classroom's bare walls and ceilings were also decorated with work the children created, Yoshida said. Children got the chance to show off their creations when some of their parents were invited to the classroom.
Community members were also invited in to tell stories to the children.
It was these fun and engaging activities that helped motivate the young children to want to learn, she said.
Yoshida notes that she is not Christian, but explains she connects with three of the religion's ideals. She believes in the importance of sharing, caring, and helping each other, she said.
"If everyone thought that, there'd be no conflict," she said.
She also cites humanitarian Mother Theresa as a role model, and admits she's wanted to be like her for years.
Yoshida encouraged people to travel to impoverished places to lend assistance.
"I want people to go there and see the reality, not just from TV, books, photos and Facebook," she said. "If you're able to go to get that feeling, then go."