Judy Emerson, an English Language Fellow in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 2012-2013, and 2014-2016, is an Alumni Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State English Language Fellow Program. “My fellowship reinforced my values as a teacher. It provided an opportunity for me to help veteran teachers appreciate their mentoring capabilities and to encourage them to share their strengths. Most of all, it reminded me of how lucky I am to be able to support others with English as a communication tool.”
At her host institution, the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Emerson’s primary projects included curriculum design and mentoring work with over sixty English instructors. She also taught English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses for electrical engineers, graphic designers, and food scientists. For one of her secondary projects, Emerson had the opportunity to work with blind and visually impaired English students at the local library. For two years on Saturday mornings the group had an English conversation club. Emerson reflects, “On one special occasion in the springtime, we were escorted into nature via a bus ride and hike, and the students prepared a Korean barbecue, sang songs, and told stories into the late afternoon. Seeing these incredible learners use the English language to help each other navigate the most confusing paths of travel in the city and in the outdoors was really inspiring.”
Throughout her fellowship Emerson refined many professional skills that led directly to her next role as manager of an intensive English program at a liberal arts college in Idaho. “As a Fellow, I learned how to be a better collaborative mentor with my teachers, by asking them guiding questions and giving them chances to discover their unique strengths. These strategies carried over into my managerial role in which I supervised the adjunct faculty and provided them with professional development opportunities and curriculum support,” she states. Most recently, Emerson has developed an online course for international teachers based on the curriculum planning and the Communicative Language Teaching and Learning process that she used with her Mongolian colleagues.
Emerson developed meaningful relationships with her Mongolian students and colleagues as they shared different aspects of their culture with her. “I will never forget the day I found a note on my desk that said, ‘Teacher, can we make pizza with you?’ This led to five different social evenings with groups of students and faculty making a version of Mongolian pizza that was a real delight.” Emerson also formed lasting bonds with many Fellows from China who came to Mongolia for conferences. “Working closely with other Fellows from China and Mongolia, collaborating on presentations and traveling together – these experiences shaped many of my best memories of Mongolia.”
Emerson also expressed gratitude for being able to share her fellowship experience with her partner, Woody Packard. She explains, “Woody’s work as a photographer and storyteller helped broaden my view of Mongolia’s nature and wildlife, and its cuisine and cultural heritage. He wrote two books that serve as testaments to our wonderful experience of living and working in Mongolia.”
Judy Emerson was an English Language Fellow in Mongolia, 2012-2013, and 2014-2016. After her fellowship in Mongolia, Emerson became the Academic Coordinator of a small intensive English program at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho. Her teaching career has included middle school, community education, and university-bound student programs over the course of 12 years. Now, she is an independent tutor/teacher providing online tutoring for learners in the U.S. and teacher training for university faculty in other countries.