English Language Specialist Vivian Leskes-Ward traveled to Kuwait for a week and a half to lead workshops at the English Language Teachers Forum sponsored by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. Throughout her time there she also promoted mutual understanding and cross cultural communication.
At the conference, Leskes-Ward led three workshops:
Let’s Focus on Learning: the Learner-Centered Classroom–This workshop encouraged teachers to consider the learning experience rather than focusing only on teaching. The learner-centered class empowers students to take responsibility for their learning and to feel ownership in the classroom.
The Poetry of English Language Learning–This workshop demonstrated how poetry can be used as a vehicle for teaching English. Poetry is an expression of a language and culture, yet it also speaks to our common humanity. It validates students’ individual responses and can be directly accessible to students.
Creating a Written Voice: Teaching Students to Express Themselves on the Page–This workshop examined the component parts of an English essay. It demonstrated how English students can use their second language to express themselves clearly.
During the Ministry of Education conference, Leskes-Ward had the chance to participate in a unique media event. She was asked to give a bilingual radio interview at the Ministry of Information on the Kuwaiti Youth Radio program Al-Boum. On the air, Leskes-Ward spoke about her positive perceptions of Kuwait and the conference and gave advice to the audience for improving their English. Three young Kuwaiti writers also shared their fruitful experiences traveling to the United States with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ educational and cultural exchange programs.
Leskes-Ward’s specialist assignment was an the beginning of an important relationship between the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. The support that the Ministry of Education provided to support and host Leskes-Ward was an example of the positive outcomes that can come from cooperation between two countries. Leskes-Ward’s work as a Specialist was short but very well-received, and it heralded future collaboration between the two countries.