Alfredo Gaona, a doctoral candidate in the interdisciplinary humanities department at University of California, Merced, is an Alumni Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow Program. Gaona was an English Language Fellow in Indonesia from 2015-2016. Just after his fellowship ended, Gaona took on a new role as an English language instructor at a prestigious IB international school in Singapore. “My fellowship experience and the skills I developed through it have helped me reach new professional heights,” explained Gaona.
Gaona’s work in Indonesia enabled him to activate all of the pedagogical theory and classroom activities he’d studied and developed over the years.“The thing I love about this fellowship program is that it afforded me exponential growth,” he said. “It gave me a chance to put all of the tools and methodologies I learned in grad school into action. Project management, presenting at conferences, lecturing at universities—all of these duties from your fellowship jump start your career and set you apart from other job applicants.”
During his fellowship, Gaona was empowered to carry out a project he’s still passionate about. In an effort to address systemic educational disenfranchisement of poor communities, he developed a mechanism through which teachers of local schools are trained in effective English teaching strategies and techniques. The project involved extensive travel, which resulted in both professional and personal growth. “While pursuing this project I took over 50 flights across Indonesia and Timor Leste,” he said. I collaborated with other regional English Language Fellows at conferences and on the publication of a teacher-training manual. I gained invaluable confidence as a public speaker—and I finally conquered my fear of flying, too!”
With over eleven years of TESOL experience, Alfredo has taught students at every age and acquisition level (including AP English and MYP experience). He has a master’s in English, a UK QTS certificate, and five teaching licenses, including English, ESL, Social Studies, Gifted Studies, and Multiple Subjects K-6. He is a credentialed administrator who has worked with a wide spectrum of English language interests to develop, coordinate, and implement teacher-training workshops and intensive English language acquisition programs in South Korea and Indonesia. He is currently pursuing research interests in identity, resilience, migration, transnationalism, and rurality at University of California, Merced.