John Achrazoglou, Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Technology Officer at The University of Iowa College of Education, was an English Language Specialist in Pakistan from June to July 2019. Achrazoglou’s project centered on facilitating technology workshops, which emphasized English language learning and using apps in the classroom. The three-week project was spread between Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, and involved over 1,000 students and teachers from English Works and the English Access Microscholarship Program.
“Through my over 30 years as a faculty member and involvement in diversity projects I believe that the more we share our stories, the
more we see we are alike, not different.” – John Achrazoglou, English Language Specialist
While in Pakistan, Achrazoglou worked to develop English language teaching skills and advance mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Pakistan. Along with teaching how to use apps and various technologies in English language classrooms, Achrazoglou shared stories of his family and communities back in the United States. “Through my over 30 years as a faculty member and involvement in diversity projects, I believe that the more we share our stories, the more we see we are alike, not different,” Achrazoglou explained. Based on feedback from workshop participants, Achrazoglou felt that increased understanding was developed between the students and teachers of the two countries.
“It was a tremendous experience in Pakistan. I learned as much from the students and teachers I trained as they did from me (I hope).” – John Achrazoglou, English Language Specialist
English Works and the English Access Microscholarship Program, the participant groups Achrazoglou worked with through this project, both target socio-economically underserved student populations. Students and teachers communicated that they valued the technology training and career-building English language opportunities provided by Achrazoglou. Following each session, Achrazoglou noted that he was swarmed with requests for selfies. “It was a tremendous experience in Pakistan,” Achrazoglou shared. “I learned as much from the students and teachers I trained as they did from me (I hope).”
“In some cultures when a stranger appears, doors are closed and locked. In Pakistan, the doors came wide open and I was lifted up and helped.” – John Achrazoglou, English Language Specialist
Achrazoglou similarly valued the knowledge he gained about life and English language education in Pakistan through his role as a Specialist. When Achrazoglou arrived in Pakistan, his luggage did not. While in “dire straits” as he described it, Achrazoglou suddenly found himself surrounded by generosity. “In some cultures when a stranger appears, doors are closed and locked,” Achrazoglou noted. “In Pakistan, the doors came wide open and I was lifted up and helped.” Achrazoglou’s Pakistani hosts dropped off clothes, took him shopping for toiletries, and gave him bananas to take back to his hotel. “Total strangers took time and showed genuine care towards helping me out,” Achrazoglou remarked.
At The University of Iowa College of Education, Achrazoglou has been involved in training Pakistani youth and teachers in technology and English through online sessions which connect students in Karachi to classes in rural Iowa. This Specialist project gave Achrazoglou the opportunity to both develop professionally and make meaningful in-person connections.
John Achrazoglou, PhD, is a Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Technology Officer at The University of Iowa College of Education. Achrazoglou has been recognized for his service to diversity and volunteer work helping at-risk underrepresented secondary students gain entry into higher education and was presented The University of Iowa’s Catalyst Award, the institution’s highest award in diversity. Other honors include the Diversity Council Honors Award from the National Association of Diversity Councils and the Faculty Excellence Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Achrazoglou is a two-time runner-up for Best Technology in the State of Iowa by the Technology Association of Iowa and was presented the C.S.Robinson National Award for Best Practices and Research. Achrazoglou has over thirty years of experience in teaching about and supporting technology, including assistive technologies. Achrazoglou has published and presented his technical work including research on universal design for learning nationally and internationally.