English Language Specialist Annaliese Hausler-Akpovi participated in The English Club Summit, a remarkable, first-ever event in the history of Benin that drew 135 English club leaders from more than 60 English clubs from every region in the country. English clubs are extracurricular organizations that meet regularly so that members can practice and improve their knowledge of the English language through games and educational activities. The English Club Summit included three days of workshops and keynote speakers that covered diverse aspects of club development and expansion, club activities, and effective club organization. The welcoming ceremony was filmed by a local Beninese television station and a segment appeared on the evening national news for the citizens of the entire country to watch on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Université d’Abomey-Calavi, the Benin National Teachers of English Association (BNTEA), as well as the Regional English Language Officer (RELO), English Language Specialist Annaliese Hausler-Akpovi, and a British publishing company formed the official panel for the welcoming and closing ceremonies.
The event included six to ten workshops each day for the participants to attend. Hausler-Akpovi presented six workshops covering the topics “Service Learning in English Clubs” and “The Role of an EFL Instructor in English Clubs” repeating each workshop three times so that all the attendees could participate. Participants in her workshops were able to learn about and practice interactive techniques using icebreakers. They were also able to learn about Service Learning and begin to imagine ways that they could adapt that teaching and learning strategy to their Beninese context. Participants seemed enthusiastic to be exposed to the new concepts that Hausler-Akpovi presented and after the summit concluded, many participants contacted her to receive additional materials and ask follow up questions. Hausler-Akpovi firmly believes that Service Learning in primary, secondary and university settings can have a transformative effect on students, teachers, local partners, and entire communities and hopes that her work will be the first step in planting a seed for Service Learning that will grow and be sustainable in the Beninese educational system.
Annaliese Hausler-Akpovi is an English Professor at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA. She has also directed the Learning Community program, and worked with teams of colleagues to bring First Year Experience, Service Learning, and accelerated English composition to her college. As an educator, she sees her role as a facilitator who fosters exploration, discovery, and reflection to scaffold student learning, develop awareness, and spark a life-long inquiry process within her students.