From Korea to Ethiopia: The USC Connection

I completed my Master of Arts in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT-TESOL) through USC while living in South Korea, hoping to use it as a catalyst to extend my options abroad while continuing to instruct through an international framework. Working in classrooms around the world appeals to me, as the differing cultures weigh heavily on the teaching and learning methodologies, which opens up possibilities of which there are no limitations. The USC Rossier MAT program prepared me for such contexts, with classmates of mine citing examples from their own experiences in China, Spain, Singapore or Brazil, giving truth to the phrase that “the world is your classroom.”

During the latter half of the courses, one of our professors, Dr. Gena Rhoades, introduced us to the English Language Fellowship (ELF), a program that she was involved with, which had already taken her to Morocco and was going to take her to China. She mentioned the virtues and cited examples from her own involvement — an opportunity to continue to teach abroad with an admittedly broader framework than the circumstances which defined my high school teaching in Korea — both of which directly appealed to me. After graduating in 2012, I applied to the Fellowship in 2014, hoping to use both the education I received at USC and the experiences I had in Korea to propel me to the next stage of my teaching career.

I was accepted as an instructor at Ambo University in Ethiopia for the 2014–2015 school year. While there, I worked with local teachers and students to further their English language skills. The program itself is run in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Georgetown University, which are both working toward the common goal of educating developing nations and helping citizens in those nations strengthen their English language skills, while simultaneously bringing these countries to the international table
When I participated at a recent orientation in Washington D.C., I met with Dr. Rhoades, who two years ago sparked my interest in the English Language Fellowship. Also in attendance were two other USC Rossier alumni who are also affiliated with the program. They both followed a similar path of teaching and learning abroad, using their experiences coupled with Dr. Rhoades’ suggestions, to arrive at a similar place as myself. We shared stories from our past and hopes for our future as we set off in different directions, eager to see what lies ahead in this complex area of international TESOL instruction.

The USC Rossier MAT program and the ELF program seem to complement one another in that they both take into account the demands associated with global education. From having classmates at USC scattered around the globe, to having Fellowship colleagues similarly stationed throughout the world, the shared knowledge and understanding that this commitment stretches beyond the realm of any classroom only goes to strengthen the mission set forth by both parties. I am grateful for my association with each group and cannot wait for the peaks and valleys I will undoubtedly encounter during my time in Ethiopia.