This month’s happenings:
- Please join us for the Invited Speaker Session at Virtual TESOL: Social Justice and the English Language Specialist Program. We hope to see you at this event on Friday, March 26 at 9:00 AM ET.
- As part of the 30th anniversary celebrations, we are hosting six Regional Sessions at Virtual TESOL. We invite you to join us to learn more about what Specialists have been doing in these regions. Don’t miss the “Meet the Presenters” hour following each of these sessions! Click on this page to pre-register for the Meet the Presenters hours!
- Our March story is Two 30@30 Specialists Support Teachers’ Associations in Africa, featuring Brock Brady and Liz England.
- If you haven’t already, check out the 30th Anniversary Calendar. March features photos submitted by Specialists Vivian Leskes and Richard Silberg. They share memories of their projects below.
Vivian Leskes spent 2 weeks in Kyrgyzstan in 2012 with 200 Kyrgyz teachers, providing training in lesson planning, reading skills, and developing critical thinking skills.
“March’s large calendar photo depicts a special day in Kyrgyzstan during a six-week Specialist Program in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Before us were high green pastures dotted by cows, horses, and sheep. These are the summer pastures where livestock graze during the warm months. We pulled off the road into an area with several small shacks. Families were cooking on open fires. When they saw the arrival of the teachers with foreign guests, several families invited us to sit to partake of their kumis, fermented mare’s milk. It tasted a bit like kefir with an alcoholic kick.
In the distance we could hear the strains of an accordian. Perhaps a bit tipsy from the kumis, we headed off in the direction of the music. As we approached, the group looked at us in astonishment. Who were these strangers heading toward their picnic?
“We love your music,” we said, and it was quickly translated by a Kyrgyz English teacher. The accordian player tentatively returned to his tune. And the members of the party renewed their singing and dancing.
There we were, people from opposite sides of the world, reveling in the common language of joyful music on a beautiful day in a magical place.”
Richard spent three weeks in Cambodia in 2017 working with his former students from the Regional Teacher Training Center in Kampong Cham, where he was an English Language Fellow the previous year. He traveled to 3 different provinces and observed and supported the former students, who were now teaching in their home villages, and facilitated a 3 day “Unconference” for them and their colleagues in Kampong Cham.
“I went to Orn Leakhena’s school, located on the Vietnam/Cambodian border with great anticipation. She was a star student and I knew she would be a star teacher. One of my last acts as an English Language Fellow was to purchase a large amount of English language picture books, and organize them into class sets. We stored them at the American Corners in Kampong Cham. The day before my visit to Leakhena’s school, I had just concluded another part of my Specialist assignment, a 3 day “Un-Conference” or “EdCamp”. 25 of my former students gathered and we reunited to share our knowledge and ask questions. One of the workshops was a response to the question: “How do we use the picture book collections in our classroom?” After that session, Leakhena volunteered to try some of the ideas we discussed. She loaded two boxes of books onto her moto and drove the 2 hours to her village. I arrived at her school the next morning as she unloaded the boxes in her classroom. When the boxes were brought in, the grade 9 students were so excited, reached for the books, and began to read in pairs. It was so affirming to see how eager the students were to read the books, and how well Leakhena used them. After the initial period of “discovery” reading, Leakhena led them in some of the activities we had discussed in our conference just the day before. It was gratifying to see that the last thing I did as a Fellow, purchasing and organizing these books, was now taking flight, nearly a year later, through the hands of a brilliant novice teacher. Little did I know how well the sun would cooperate and provide the perfect lighting for these shots. It was illuminating the students and books in a way that exceeded what I could’ve done as a lighting designer in a theatre.”
Click on previous months’ happenings to learn about the anniversary calendar photographers and their projects, and about other ways we’re celebrating throughout the year.