Sitting sea-side or exploring a snowy forest, English Language Fellow Hansley Cazeau (2021-2023) never misses an opportunity to take in the beautiful views of Montenegro. He has many opportunities to explore the region when not performing his primary Fellow duties of developing professional development initiatives for professors at the University of Montenegro and co-teaching a TESOL methodology course for education students. The sessions with professors focus on English conversation and presentation skills for the teachers. Cazeau recently concluded an 8-week course on methodologies for increasing classroom engagement which included project-based strategies, conducting student needs assessments, and utilizing professional learning networks. This project served around 30 professors. The project ended with a certification ceremony for professors and a celebratory dinner.
Before heading to Montenegro, Cazeau completed the Fellow Training of Trainers course provided by the U.S. Department of State, which provided helpful strategies for conducting teacher training. Applying what he learned during this fellowship, Cazeau discovered a new area of second language education he enjoys – methodology. His work at the university with professors and working with the teachers association has allowed him to grow professionally in developing workshops and strategies for learning.
Outside of the university, Cazeau collaborates with the English Language Teachers Association of Montenegro (ELTAM) to provide professional development for public school ESL teachers around Montenegro. He also facilitates weekend seminars on speaking and writing techniques in the classroom with the same group.
Cazeau also offers workshops at the American Corners on various topics. Often, these are language test-prep sessions, but recently he hosted an event for Black History Month. Attendees watched Judas and the Black Messiah and participated in a discussion led by Cazeau. U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Rising Reinke was in attendance at the event as well.
Paradoxically – as busy as the activities above would suggest, Cazeau has adopted new ways of working and thinking while a Fellow, moving away from his usual fast-paced lifestyle. “I feel I have learned how to slow down and take time for people – as people do in Montenegro.” Coffee has been instrumental in this – as the rest of this story will illustrate!
“Think Globally, Teach Locally”
A highlight for Cazeau has been working with ELTAM on a multi-city tour around Montenegro to give workshops to Montenegrin public school teachers. The project, “Think Globally, Teach Locally” focused on using the Socratic Seminar method to increase civic engagement. The trip came with challenges – power outages, “showering” with a water bottle when water was shut-off, and navigating health restrictions that required online programming at points along the tour. These were minor issues compared to the success of the workshops. “Having those experiences and being with the Montenegrin teachers I was traveling with, we kind of just laughed at everything. As long as we had our coffee, we were okay,” Cazeau explained good-humoredly.
The workshop tour offered Cazeau – a lover of road trips – an introduction to the country. They visited multiple regions, presenting in mountainous areas, central cities, and the coast. Having a car full of snacks was a must. He tasted kačamak in Kolašin, cakes in rural Berane, and burek in the old capital Cetinje. “For me cultural exchange is sharing experiences, …and trying foods and learning about their origins,” explained Cazeau.
Working so closely with teachers has allowed Cazeau to see the similarities between the Montenegrin education system and the United States school system. “It’s easy to believe our education systems can be two worlds apart. I found there are universal challenges we both face,” such as limited resources, politics, parents, and addressing student needs. The ability to connect with teachers from a different country and culture has been the most impactful aspect of Cazeau’s fellowship.
What do catching up with friends, sitting sea-side, prepping materials, and exploring a new city have in common? Coffee (an intentional motif in this story)! Coffee time is a big part of the culture and it has become common for Cazeau to sit for hours over a cup of coffee with local friends he has made during his fellowship. He has jumped into the coffee culture by often working on training presentations at a coffee shop. Since Montenegro is small and offers convenient transportation, Cazeau often takes day trips out of the capital, Podgorica. Whether he’s seaside or in a rural mountain town, he’s sure to enjoy a local treat.
Early in his fellowship, Cazeau visited Farma Magaraca Martinici, a donkey sanctuary, and knew he wanted to return. The owner’s passion for protecting animals and preserving the environment while incorporating a communal spirit on the farm inspired Cazeau. Donkeys have an important history in Montenegro, with most households having at least one. However, industrialization has caused the population to dramatically decrease. Cazeau decided to incorporate this farm into a project for secondary Access students in the capital. During their visit, the students actively participated in activities that enriched their learning. In the morning, they collected and raked grass for the donkeys, an essential part of the farm’s daily operations. Later, the students were given an opportunity to learn more about the farm and spend quality time with the donkeys.
Hansley Cazeau is a Haitian-American educational consultant and culture enthusiast. His educational career in ESL instruction began in 2007, teaching in private and public schools in Japan. He returned to the U.S. in 2010 where he obtained a Master’s in Multilingual Education. He has taught in public schools in New Jersey as a high school teacher for over eight years and has been an adjunct in various universities. Passionate about the field of education and English language learning, Hansley shares his ideas at conferences internationally, runs a blog on Instagram @esl_hans, and is an U.S. English Language Fellow in Montenegro facilitating training and workshops for public school and university educators. Outside of teaching, Hansley enjoys exploring nature, visiting coffee shops, international cuisines, traveling, and blogging about his experiences. His experience in the field lies in methodology and training, language assessment, classroom facilitation,and ed-tech.