►Narva, Estonia: A Russian Border City
English Language Fellow Andre Boyer is based in Narva, the third largest city in Estonia. Narva lies on the easternmost edge of Estonia, separated from Russia by the Narva River. The region holds an unemployment rate that is nearly twice the Estonian national average. Thus, the impact of Boyer’s work in increasing English language learning has played a vital role in improving job opportunities and expanding worldviews.
►Project Spotlight: EFL and Teacher Training
Boyer’s primary project activities include teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at Narva College and his secondary duties involve facilitating teacher training sessions for a vocational school, the Defense Language Center, and local schools in the area. Additionally, he leads activities on U.S. culture, economy, literature and history at the American Corner in Narva on Mondays and Wednesdays.
In his free time, Boyer likes to play table tennis with the local table tennis club, go to the movies, and travel. “My favorite place around Narva is actually the college for I spend most of my day there teaching and lesson planning,” Boyer states. Narva College is a cultural hub of the city and there are many local events such as concerts, conferences, and even the Estonian President spent time working at the college!
On a typical day, Boyer gets to Narva College around 8:00 am. After spending a few hours lesson planning or teaching, he socializes with his colleagues in the teacher’s lounge or at a nearby cafe. In the afternoon, he returns to his office for lesson planning. For dinner, he usually goes to a neighborhood store called “Prisma” and buys seafood to cook at home with his wife and step-daughter.
Below are some photos of Boyer exploring Estonia.
“The most meaningful aspect of my Fellowship experience thus far has been the many contacts and sessions I have had with the students and teachers,” Boyer states. “The interactions have instilled in me a better understanding of the culture, language, and people,” he describes. Additionally, Boyer has had the opportunity to submit research on English language learning for publication in the upcoming Estonia Teachers Association of English Journal as well as a book review in the Narva College Online Journal.
Throughout his fellowship experience, Boyer has striven to foster mutual exchange. He hopes to make an impact in Estonia in dispelling stereotypes and expanding the idea of embracing reciprocal learning and the interconnectedness of people. “As a black male, I am often asked about perceived norms of behavior for African-Americans and I take it as an opportunity to correct misconceptions, talk about similarities among people, and discuss that although there are differences, we as people, are more connected than we realize,“ he states.
Prior to being a Fellow, Boyer trained EFL and ESL teachers in Georgia, China, Japan, and California. In Georgia, he was a Peace Corps Response Volunteer for six-months and worked with the English Teachers’ Association of Georgia training teachers and co-teaching EFL classes at Tbilisi State University. Prior to his work in Georgia, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in China for two years teaching content EFL classes to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students in addition to training teachers. Boyer also lived in Japan for eleven years as an associate professor, training manager, and dissertation chair with the University of Phoenix Asia-Pacific Military Campus, School of Business, and School of Advanced Studies. In Japan, he taught MBA-level classes, served as a dissertation mentor and chair, and teacher-trainer. Before working in Japan, he taught ESL classes at the University of California, San Diego English Language Institute and trained teachers in the ESL Certificate Program with University of San Diego. Formerly, he served in the United States Marine Corps for 22 years as an Aviation Logistician, Aviation Budget Officer, and Technical Trainer, where he also taught EFL, accounting and financial and personal management, and aviation supply operations content classes across the USA and overseas.
►The Road Ahead
After completing his fellowship, Boyer looks forward to continuing to learn about corners of the globe that he has not yet explored. He states, “I think my fellowship will help me in my next steps by expanding my leadership and facilitation skills for I have gained new knowledge about another part of the world.”