Though thousands of miles away, home was never far from Amin Marei’s thoughts during his time at the Ed School. In fact, the Egypt native says he enrolled in the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) Program hoping to learn how to utilize media to provide scalable learning experiences in the Middle East. As the year went on, though, Marei’s scope expanded.
“My HGSE experience allowed me to develop further interest in educational technology in the general sense,” he says. “Especially using learning science to develop scalable learning experiences for low-income communities.” His passion for civic education reignited, Marei says he believes “that providing quality education is a human right that should be provided to anyone regardless of their background.”
Marei is part of the team developing the Hands and Mind Studio, a maker media brand that aims to inspire children from low-income communities to learn, play, and create. The team was recently awarded two grants from MIT’s Legatum Center and the MIT Public Service Center, one of the biggest surprises of Marei’s year.
“We aim to increase children’s sense of wonder and strengthen their background in STEM through educational media solutions tailored to their culture,” he says.
“Amin Marei is thoughtful and modest, but Amin’s contributions to class discussions never fail to advance everyone’s understanding and success,” says Lecturer Joe Blatt, faculty director of TIE, sharing that peers called Marei wise, selfless, grounded, respectful, and “extremely passionate about his work” when nominating him for this year’s award. “Curiosity, creativity, and community are qualities we highly value in TIE,” Blatt continues, “and Amin clearly embodies them every day in every interaction.”
Marei will receive the Intellectual Contribution Award for TIE at Convocation on May 24. Here, Marei reflects on his year at HGSE and looks at his life in education.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? Staying humble regardless of your achievements, and making sure you research and understand the problem before trying to solve it.
Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School? So after taking three courses with Joe Blatt, he has definitely played a huge role in my HGSE experience. Just observing Joe’s work ethic and passion is a learning experience by itself. He puts a lot of effort in every session, which automatically leads to a more engaging class and a phenomenal learning experience. Chris Dede is another professor who has been a constant inspiration. Even though he is one of the most influential professors at HGSE, he is always available for genuine advice and support. His knowledge of education technology is remarkable to say the least.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year? I tried to consistently remind myself that I’m doing this degree to help those who are less privileged. So whenever I was down, I kept reminding myself with this goal. It is also really hard not to get inspired by the amazing faculty and students.
What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program? Do not limit your learning experience to classes, there are a lot of amazing things happening at HGSE and Harvard. I would also advise them to try to tailor their learning experience with their learning goals as much as they can.
If you could transport one thing from HGSE your next destination, what would it be? That’s a hard one. I would transport the Gutman Library, hoping that all the amazing people of HGSE would join.