Based in the Kaqchiquel Mayan town of Sololá, Guatemala amid ancient trade routes and bustling markets, English Language Fellow Matthew Mulka’s project has involved designing a new English language curriculum for the tourism program at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. His project has also invited him to conduct teacher training workshops throughout the country.

Towards the beginning of his project, Mulka spent two months traveling across Guatemala as the plenary speaker at six teacher training workshops. The talks were given in remote regions and local instructors welcomed the opportunity to hear from Mulka, speaking with him long after his talks concluded. Mulka’s focus on appreciation and inspiration led to a richer understanding of what great teaching means, helping participants bring their skills, talents, and passion immediately into their own classrooms.

Comments from teacher training participants:

“You showed me what passion is…it is important to follow our hearts and discover that life is out there. Thank you!” Luis, Local High School Teacher

“Your message on empowering our students was well received and you delivered the message clearly.” Nicholas, Fulbright ETA

“Now I want to travel and take the opportunities to live out my dreams. You helped show me what is possible.” Paola S., Solola Access Teacher

As part of his project, Mulka also presented at Guatemala’s annual National Teacher’s Conference in Guatemala City, which involved over 500 local and regional participants and presenters. During the workshop, Mulka and the participants discussed methods for giving and receiving feedback on writing in English language classrooms. Mulka provided anecdotes and personal stories of triumph and failure, enriching his audience with strategies to engage students in their writing practice. Nearly 200 participants ranging from primary school teachers to experienced doctorates attended his workshop. The active audience used their own wealth of experience to share opinions and stories to further enhance the depth of the seminar. The connections that Mulka has built with teachers across Guatemala will leave a lasting impact by helping educators apply their unique skills, talents and passions to increase student engagement.

“I feel a sense of connection with these teachers each time I lead a workshop. I know they are smart, interesting and caring people. They want to learn. They want to become better teachers. They want greater opportunities. They inspire me. I see how much these teachers appreciate my words. They thank me. They want to stay in touch. They want more information on the topic. This is the greatest feedback I can receive. Interest. Gratitude. Kindness. Kinship.”

–Matthew Mulka, English Language  Fellow, Guatemala


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