Daniel Perez was an English Language Fellow in Bulgaria from 2009-2011 and in the Czech Republic from 2013-2014. In Bulgaria, he taught at the University of Veliko Tărnovo, and in the Czech Republic, he worked with police officers in the Prague Police Force.
Teaching English to police officers in the Czech Republic and in a more traditional university setting in Bulgaria, Daniel was able to develop his skills as an English language educator and teacher trainer in new and exciting contexts. “I was happy to be able to learn more about second language assessment and program development. But I think the highlights of both programs were the people that I worked with and the relationships that we formed over the course of my fellowships.” The variety of projects that Daniel worked on during his fellowships illustrates the wide diversity of fellowship duties and unique opportunities that the program offers.
Daniel shared both of his fellowships with his wife and young son, creating incredible opportunities for cultural exchange. “Many of my students and colleagues also adopted us as family and loved to show us around, suggest day trips and have us over for dinner. The chance to share experiences with others in this way made this experience even more rich.”
“Raising my son in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic was so much fun for me and my wife. We miss the chance to jump on a train and visit small Czech towns with medieval castles, or to walk down the street to a nice spa hotel and enjoy mineral waters in Bulgaria. There were so many wonderful opportunities to enjoy as a family in both locations. We were able to grow closer as a family and to meet many like-minded people who we still consider friends to this day,” Daniel said.
Professionally, the English Language Fellow Program provided Daniel with a platform to develop his skills and pursue diverse educational goals in-country. “One of the things I like most about being a Fellow is the chance that we have to grow as professional educators. We are not micromanaged and we are allowed to develop skills that we are interested in. I was also able to develop more cross curriculum programming with colleagues that were open to trying something new. And I was able to involve university students in programming that was not in the classroom, but instead out in the community. This kind of creative license is something that I truly enjoy about being a Fellow.”
Living abroad and immersing himself in a new culture helped Daniel develop the confidence to pursue new opportunities and take risks. “I have always been adventurous and have a love for teaching, but I think that these fellowships have diminished my fear of the unknown. I can fall back on my experiences as a Fellow to comfort me with the knowledge that I can accomplish just about anything I set my mind to.”
Daniel’s experiences as a Fellow helped him develop a stronger sense of resourcefulness. The skills and expertise he gained as a Fellow led him to his current role as a language support teacher in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas. “I mentor 11 ESL and bilingual education teachers, as well as service over 150 students in an elementary bilingual campus. My exposure to EFL methodology and training has given me a deeper toolbox to reach into to support the language development at my school. Also, I am more open and willing to conduct teacher training at my district, whereas before I might have shied away from such an opportunity.”