Skip to content
The 2024-2025 Virtual Educator application is open. Learn More and Apply!
AlumniEast Asia and PacificMaterials DesignProfessional DevelopmentTeacher TrainingVietnam

Alumni Ambassador Summer Peixoto Champions English Language Educators as an Advocate for International Education

As an English Language Fellow in Brazil in 2008-2009, Alumni Ambassador Summer Peixoto discovered a passion that has guided her work ever since. “I remember feeling both excited and a bit scared heading into my fellowship because it was my first time living and teaching abroad,” Peixoto said. “But the experience changed my life and set me on a new professional path. Being a Fellow taught me that I wanted to work in programs that further diplomacy in various ways connected to international education, specifically in teacher training.” 

Peixoto’s newfound passion inspired her to earn new teaching certificates and pursue leadership roles. Branching out from her instructor position at the University of Kansas, Peixoto took on projects as an independent educational contractor and consultant. She created educational technology interest sections, designed teacher training courses, and completed several English Language Specialist projects. “These kinds of projects enable me to work with a broader segment of English teachers who aim to make an impact within the international community,” Peixoto said. 

As a 2023-2024 Alumni Ambassador, Peixoto has been connecting with educators around the U.S. and sharing her story as a program participant. “I’m always encouraging colleagues to get involved with international education programs because I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that teachers can make across the world,” Peixoto stated.

Peixoto on her ‘Go Back, Give Back’ Specialist project in 2019 in Brazil, where she returned to work with students and teachers from her fellowship in 2008-2009

As a Fellow in Brazil, Peixoto co-taught courses on methodology, oral communication, writing, and culture at her host institution, the Instituto Cultural Brasil Estados Unidos (ICBEU). For her secondary projects, she developed and facilitated workshops and events at the local binational center, including monthly pedagogic trainings for the faculty members, a weekly conversation club, and a teacher training course open to the community. “I enjoyed taking on different projects as a Fellow because with each new one I gained insight and perspective to inform who I am as an international educator,” Peixoto said. “I also started learning how to view communication through a different cultural lens and to be more patient and flexible.”

In 2019, Peixoto was awarded the opportunity to return to her host country through English Language Programs’ 50th Anniversary Go Back, Give Back campaign. Returning to Manaus, Brazil, Peixoto embarked on a project titled, ‘Bridging Change: Cultivating Culture, Conversation, and Community’ with over one hundred and forty participants, including administrators, government leaders, students, and teachers. The participants collaborated on incorporating regional materials into the language learning classroom and documenting their overall experience in a digital storytelling component that highlighted Amazonian culture.

The project culminated with an art exhibit featuring work by regional artists. Students spoke about the positive impact that participating in the project had had on their lives, while Peixoto showed a digital story they created from their group boat tour of the Rio Negro, the largest black water river in the world and a major tributary of the Amazon River. “Returning to Manaus to accomplish this project was an amazing opportunity to connect with indigenous groups and highlight Amazonian culture for teaching purposes,” Peixoto said. “By engaging in conversations about the similarities and differences between Amazonian culture and my home state of Kansas, we discovered that one of the principal similarities is that the people of both areas are spirited, kind, and committed to doing good in the world.”

Peixoto as a Specialist in Vietnam

In recent years, Peixoto has been engaged in collaborations with educators in Vietnam through a series of English Language Specialist projects. On her first projects in 2021 and 2022, she worked with Specialist Crystal Bock Thiessen and a team of Vietnamese Ed Tech experts to design the course ‘Technology for English Teaching & Learning’ based on national curriculum goals set forth by the Ministry of Education and Teaching (MOET) in Vietnam. Then, Peixoto and Thiessen led teacher trainings on digital teaching strategies for over 170 teachers in five different cities throughout Vietnam. “One important theme that permeated all of our workshops was the idea that play is the ultimate form of exploration and research,” Peixoto said. “We had fun embracing the learner mindset and navigating various tools. The teachers made rapid progress learning new tech tools, such as Blooket, Canva, Canvas, and Flip, and creating lesson materials and projects they could use in the upcoming school year.”

Peixoto leading teacher trainings as a Specialist in Vietnam in 2023

In 2023, Peixoto’s Specialist project focused on Project Based Learning (PBL). Through another MOET initiative to promote student-centered learning, Peixoto collaborated with a team of Vietnamese PBL experts to design the online course ‘Project Based Learning: Training Course for Educators.’ They visited seven different cities to train teachers in PBL and conducted a needs assessment on the topic. This summer, Peixoto will travel back to Vietnam to train K-12 teachers, train trainers on implementing the course, and give workshops on PBL at VIETTESOL in Ho Chi Minh City. “Working on this multi-phase project has been wonderfully enriching,” Peixoto said. “In their final projects, our participants demonstrated their abilities in creating active learning opportunities and incorporating the steps of PBL, and we learned from their insightful reflections. This project helped me grow as a change agent and advocate for international education.”

Peixoto working at the booth at the NABE conference in New Orleans (left); sharing program experiences with teachers at the TESOL International Convention in Tampa (right)

After completing certificate programs in ‘ELT in Leadership Management’ and ‘ESL Principles and Practices of Online Teaching’ through TESOL International, Peixoto took on projects training Fulbright Teaching Assistants and participants in Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Programs. Most recently, Peixoto has facilitated online projects such as ‘Storytelling for Social Change’ and ‘Digital Citizenship’ for the international education program iEARN, and trainings for iSocial, a social skills development program for people with autism.

In between all of her projects, Peixoto currently works as an Adjunct Instructor for Shorelight Education and teaches online courses in graduate studies at Cleveland State University, Tulane, and Gonzaga. “I like to stay open to all of the opportunities that come my way,” Peixoto said, noting that she’s experienced the most growth through her challenges. “As a trainer, I feel that it’s important for me to keep teaching as well because it helps maintain perspective with teachers. And by connecting with teachers and sharing my experiences, I’m able to empathize and address their needs so they feel more confident in the classroom and with applying to new programs.”

Stay tuned for our next featured Alumni Ambassador story with Leticia Medina.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

This is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Georgetown University, Center for Intercultural Education and Development.

All decisions related to participant terms (including candidate review, selection, funding, suspension, revocation, and termination) and all criteria related thereto are made and established by the U.S. Department of State.