Mari Bodensteiner, ESL Instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is an Alumni Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow Program. Bodensteiner was a Fellow in Laos from 2015 to 2017, and was selected for this prestigious role based on her distinguished work during her fellowship and the contribution she has made to the TESOL community, both abroad and in the United States post-fellowship.
While a Fellow in Laos, Bodensteiner taught English to undergraduate and graduate students at Savannakhet University. She collaborated with USAID on the regional project “Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training,” which focused on developing workforce readiness skills. During the second year of her fellowship, her project shifted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Bodensteiner’s professional role further expanded beyond teaching to include the creation and implementation of a Community of Practice for educators in Laos. She traveled the region presenting at TESOL conferences and co-coordinated the first Women’s Leadership Forum in Hanoi.
Bodensteiner’s work and fellowship experience inspired her to continue her relationship with the learning communities of Southeast Asia. After returning from her fellowship, she started a company with two other former Fellows from the region. Together they received a year-long grant to implement the Lower Mekong Initiative Women’s Leadership Project in Southeast Asia. In early 2019, she returned to the region to lead this project. “Working at a university in the United States, I have the autonomy to follow projects that I’m passionate about,” Bodensteiner explained. Her commitment to the TESOL community at home in Wisconsin and to women’s empowerment globally make her a standout Alumni Ambassador. Follow English Language Programs on Instagram to see stories of her day-to-day impact this month.
Mari Bodensteiner is a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Recently, she served as a two-year English Language Fellow in Laos where she worked with government officials to improve communication skills in diplomatic settings. Bodensteiner received her Master of Education from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, with an emphasis in Adult Education. Having lived and worked in an international setting, she believes in the power of the global community. Her interests and expertise include curriculum and program development, peer-mentoring programs, and presentation skills training. Bodensteiner strives to create an effective learning atmosphere for all learners using authentic and communicative practices in her classroom.