Alumni Ambassador Anne Marie Burk was an English Language Fellow in Kyrgyzstan from 2003-2005. She taught, trained teachers, developed curriculum, and immersed herself in the rich culture and history of the country. Anne Marie’s time as a Fellow continues to play a central role in her life as she writes a book of memoirs about her 25-year career teaching ESL and building English language capacity across the globe.

As an English Language Fellow at Karakol Pedagogical University and Bishek Arabev Pedagogical University, Burk provided workshops for in-service teachers and taught classes for both in-service and pre-service teachers. She also set up a language learning lab at Karakol University as a sustainable resource for future teachers and students. In addition to her primary teaching and training duties, Burk engaged in secondary projects such as organizing a weekly movie night for EFL students in Karakol and developing a course on multicultural modern American literature for the university in Bishkek.

Throughout her two years as a Fellow, Burk was immersed in the rich culture of Kyrgyzstan. She developed lasting friendships with Kyrgyz teachers and colleagues, worked with Peace Corps Volunteers, had the opportunity to learn Russian, and  became a better teacher and writer. Burk loved having regular conversations with Kyrgyz people and learning more about their history and traditions. During her second year as a Fellow, she collected traditional, pre-Soviet “tush kyiz” tapestries and appreciated the chance to learn more about the evolution of Kyrgyz heritage. Burk reflects on her time as a Fellow by stating, “In general, I had so many positive experiences throughout my fellowship, but I especially enjoyed becoming a better teacher and life-long learner.”

Burk placed a high value on the personal impact of the English Language Fellow Program. She gained an in depth understanding of Kyrgyzstan far beyond the perspective of a tourist and a great respect for the advantages and barriers that influence personal development throughout the country.

Burk also recognizes the professional impact of her fellowship on her career. Following her time in Kyrgyzstan, she continued to be involved with the English Language Programs as an English Language Specialist in seven countries and was inspired to write about her experiences in building English language capacity and cultural understanding. She is currently working on a book about her two-year fellowship in Kyrgyzstan and memoirs of six months as a media specialist in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Burk encourages those who are considering applying to the program to “definitely do it,” and take advantage of the opportunity to professionally develop by supporting aspiring educators.

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