During her fellowship in Paraguay, Alumni Ambassador Kim Carroll had what she describes as ‘a big a-ha moment’ in her life. “As a Fellow and queer person in a place where it can be complicated to be openly gay, I was really struck by the importance of LGBTQ+ visibility, especially for young people,” Carroll said. “This led to a commitment to be more involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and a personal exploration of how I might be able to contribute to creating space for diverse LBGTQ+ teacher and student voices.” As Alumni Ambassador, she has continued her advocacy work, participating in panel discussions about U.S. diversity abroad.
“Thinking about all of the changes that being a Fellow, Specialist, and Alumni Ambassador have brought to my life, the most important one is connection,” Carroll said. “Becoming part of this global community of educators has enriched my personal and professional life.” Carroll’s growing community of educators coupled with her newfound voice in her work continue to take her career in exciting new directions.
Carroll and her team leading the first English Language Teacher Camp in Paraguay
As an English Language Fellow in Paraguay in 2019-2020, Carroll’s primary duties were to support trainers at the Instituto de Formación Docente Paraguayo Americano. She contributed modules on methodology and technology as they taught English and pedagogy to elementary public school teachers. For her secondary duties, Carroll supported the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) and EducationUSA with teaching and training, and traveled around the country giving workshops to pre- and in-service teachers. For one of her biggest projects, Carroll organized the first English Teacher Camp in Paraguay for over sixty teachers. “That’s something I’m very proud of,” Carroll said. “As a team we provided an amazing 3-day experience for teachers from all over the country, some of whom had never left their home towns or regions before.”
Carroll and her Paraguayan colleague at the Monday Falls
Although Carroll’s fellowship was cut short at seven months due to the pandemic, her time in Paraguay was still filled with “amazing sights.” Among her many adventures she lists visiting the Iguazu Falls, the Jesuit Missions, Monday Falls, and the Mythology museum; taking a road trip tour to see different regional artisans; learning about Guaraní language and culture; and going to concerts featuring everything from traditional Paraguayan harp to local rock bands. “Anyone who goes to Paraguay will tell you that one of the most beautiful things about the country is its people,” Carroll said. “I am so grateful for the kindness of my colleagues-turned-friends who invited me into their homes to eat traditional foods and to their children’s birthday parties, took me to waterfalls and wineries, concerts and barbecues, and always made me feel welcome and at home.”
Facilitating a teacher training workshop for public school teachers in San Lorenzo, Paraguay
Carroll’s fellowship led to a multi-phase Specialist project in Paraguay spanning 2020 to 2023. Her work in these projects consisted of an array of pedagogical activities including:
- Conducting an organization-wide needs assessment of the Paraguayan Binational Center’s online English language programming, and implementing changes in creative, sustainable ways
- Facilitating a 6-session module on ‘How to run online conversation groups’
- Implementing a new teacher observation protocol for on-site and online classrooms
- Designing an online interactive teacher toolkit with documents and instructional videos
- Leading training of trainers sessions for new mentor trainers and material designers
For Carroll and her Paraguayan colleagues, it all came together in the final phase of the project when they were reunited in-person. Carroll spent seven weeks in Paraguay working with over eighty teachers, trainers, and academic coordinators at the Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano (CCPA), visiting all four branches of the organization and delivering the first face-to-face workshops since the pandemic. “I was honored to be a part of this team and our long-term project,” Carroll said. “The teachers in other cities were so grateful that we made the trip to them, and they were excited to finally be able to connect in-person.”
For Carroll’s most recent Specialist project in Peru, she suggested that in addition to her workshops on English teaching methodology she could do something related to LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June. This led to Carroll hosting ‘Pride Sessions: LGBTQ+ Awareness, Engagement, and Advocacy for Educators.’ Teachers from around the region met for four sessions to learn ways to engage with, advocate for, and create a sense of belonging for their LGBTQ+ students and colleagues. “I’ve been overwhelmed by teachers’ willingness to share their own experiences, ask hard questions, and create spaces for LGBTQ+ voices in their classrooms in ways that work best in their context,” Carroll said. With the success of the sessions, Carroll was invited to present a webinar for embassy employees on the topic in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Peru’s DEIA council, and to present a webinar in the Regional English Language Office Andes webinar series for teachers.
Leading a ‘Train the Trainers’ session in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 2023
Carroll credits her program experiences with instilling in her the confidence to step into myriad new roles and take on new challenges. As the owner and director of English for Life Academy, Carroll provides TESOL certificate courses and educational consulting and training. As a trainer, she’s been leading sessions on ‘How to have Productive and Human Online Meetings’ for nonprofits, government employees, executive coaches, and corporations. She has recently begun work on her Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) degree in Second Language Instruction. Since July of 2022, she has been a consultant for the Access Monitoring and Evaluation Team. If that weren’t enough, Carroll will be teaching two EAP classes at Presbyterian College this fall. “Being asked to do things outside my comfort zone as a Fellow and a Specialist has made me more apt to take on new roles,” Carroll said. “I’ve learned a lot from collaborating with different people on different kinds of tasks.”
Alumni networking event after the SETESOL Conference in Richmond, Virginia
On her experience of being an Alumni Ambassador, Carroll cited the pleasure of having the opportunity to give back to the program, and getting to meet and work with her cohort of Alumni Ambassadors. “This has been an amazing experience,” she said. “It’s refreshing, humbling, and fun to get to work with such a diverse group of professionals.”
Kim Carroll was an English Language Fellow in Paraguay, 2019-2020; a Specialist in Paraguay, 2021, 2022, 2023 (multi-phase); and Peru, 2023. She has 24 years of experience in teaching, training, and coaching, in Mexico, South Korea, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Canada, and in multicultural classrooms in the U.S. Kim is the owner and director of English for Life Academy in Greenville, South Carolina, and a monitoring and evaluation consultant for the Access program. She has a Master of Education and a certificate in Learning Experience Design (LXD) and is a certified professional coach and intercultural trainer.
Stay tuned for our next Alumni Ambassador Feature Story with Farrah Littlepage.