Kathy Green was an English Language Fellow in Sylhet, Bangladesh from 2013-2014 and in Irkutsk, Russia from 2015-2016. The personal and professional experiences she had in these two very different environments helped her grow in ways she never expected.
Her favorite part of being a Fellow was the personal connections she made in both countries. “I love the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge with those who can benefit from it, and learning from them in return. These fellowships have allowed me to expand my professional network across the globe. But the fellowship isn’t just about professional development. It’s about understanding my own culture, and opening up to other cultural experiences. I have a much deeper appreciation for my fellow human beings, and that is what I liked the most about being a Fellow.”
During her time in Russia, she impacted hundreds of secondary and university students and more than one thousand English language teachers and professionals through program outreach. “On an end-of-fellowship outreach tour of Eastern Siberia and the Far East, I visited Chita, a formerly closed city where no fellow has been in over thirty years. While I was there, I did a homestay at my colleague’s mother’s house. My time with the teachers and local people there was invaluable. In addition to extending the values of the English Language Program and training local English language professionals, I learned a lot from my English Language Fellow colleagues through the strong personal and professional relationships we developed and continue to this day.”
Kathy found that her fellowship in Bangladesh was “far more personal and all-consuming. I met hundreds of teachers who had little to no access to teacher training or resources. Their devotion to the training programs I set up and their hunger for information about teaching, the United States, and the world was a stronger force than anything I’d ever encountered before, or have since. The highlight of my fellowship in Bangladesh was meeting so many enthusiastic teachers, and with them a smaller group of dedicated individuals that are now like a second family to me.”
Kathy’s fellowships strengthened her skills as a leader, communicator, and teacher. “I am able to work independently with little instruction and feedback, and I have learned to trust myself with making big decisions. Thanks to the fellowship, I am comfortable in a mentor role with other teachers. I understand that my students are individuals with goals and needs of their own that extend far beyond the course goals. I respect my students and colleagues because I perceive them far differently than before I had taken part in the fellowship program. Before I saw them as part of an institution of learning, whereas now I also see us all as a community where each of us impact one another and have something to contribute to each other’s futures.” This shift in her perspective on teaching has proven helpful with her current position as a targeted ESL/academic English instructor at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Maryland.
“Above all, my fellowships have made me a more empathetic person, which has greatly improved my professional and personal relationships. My experiences during my fellowships have changed me from a person who accepts things at face value to one who tries to understand the underlying factors. When traveling and working internationally, my patience is constantly exercised, and this has contributed to my ability to empathize with others. I am far more open to external ideas and opinions than before, and have a deep desire to continue learning and working with others who have different experiences I can learn from. I take pleasure in continuing to help those I have worked with during my fellowships and hope I’ll continue to be able to do so for a long time to come.”
Kathy encourages anyone interested in the English Language Fellow Program to apply because of the meaningful personal and professional benefits it provides. “Dive in enthusiastically and with your whole heart. The people that you will meet during the fellowship will teach you far more than you could ever teach them, and they will embrace you with such curiosity and generosity that they will be a stronger force and motivator than you can imagine. Become a Fellow with an open mind. Be willing to change your mind and see the world through new eyes. You’ll find that the world isn’t what you always thought it was, it’s far better.”