Jennifer Borch, the Education Program Coordinator at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Colchester, Vermont, is an Alumni Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State English Language Program. As an English Language Fellow in Marrakesh, Morocco, 2016-2018, Borch taught undergraduate and graduate English courses at Cadi Ayyad University, and mentored student leaders at the American Corner. She states, “My fellowship experience gave me the opportunity and confidence to try all kinds of new things both inside and outside the classroom.”
Borch’s many secondary projects in Morocco, including working with a girls’ empowerment organization, facilitating teacher training workshops, coordinating virtual exchange programs, and tutoring opportunities for visually impaired students, have helped shape the trajectory of her career. “Through my experience in Morocco, I realized that I love being able to connect teachers and organizations to work toward common goals. When I returned to Vermont, I wanted to find a job that would allow me to put all of the favorite parts of my fellowship together. I have found all that in my role as the Education Program Coordinator at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).”
During her fellowship, Borch came to realize that the program was about so much more than English teaching. “For me, it was a two-year professional development opportunity that gave me the support and autonomy to explore, develop, and implement completely new ideas in an extraordinary context. At the end of two years, I had gained a professional network of teachers throughout North Africa and the English Language Fellow community, dear Moroccan friends, and a deep appreciation of Islamic culture and Moroccan food. Stepping out of the familiarity of my classroom and into Morocco was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
For Borch, having her children with her in Morocco enhanced her fellowship in ways that she never would have anticipated. Her son and daughter often accompanied her to workshops and trainings, adeptly sharing aspects of American culture with Moroccan students, and picking up new Arabic phrases that they would in turn teach her. “To have been able to share my fellowship experience with my children was a gift. Looking at photos together, reliving memories, and laughing about shared experiences, both the highlights and the challenges, will provide us with a unique connection for years to come.”
Jennifer Borch was an English Language Fellow in Morocco, 2016-2018, and an English Language Specialist in Egypt and Nepal in 2019. Over the past twenty years, she has developed language and cultural education projects and facilitated teacher training in the Middle East, North Africa, Vietnam, Senegal, Nepal, France, and the United States. Jennifer is currently the Education Program Coordinator at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Colchester, Vermont, where she manages the English language, U.S. citizenship, and technology education programming for New Americans. She provides professional development training for teachers and organizations interested in best practices with refugee-background students. She also teaches in the MA TESOL program at St. Michael’s College and supervises student teachers seeking K-12 ELL endorsement.