Olivia is a BridgeTEFL graduate from Dallas, Texas who is teaching English in China. Over a recent holiday at the university where she teaches, she had the opportunity to take part in a unique professional development opportunity. She and some colleagues traveled to Indonesia to present ESL education workshops at several universities! Olivia told us more about this cross-cultural experience.
Olivia, can you tell us about your current teaching position in China?
I am an “English Intern” at Shantou University (STU) in China, where I teach an English class and help run various English-related activities and groups (dance club, English festival, student-run English activities, etc.).
How did you hear about this professional development trip?
I have an Indonesian colleague, Handoyo Widodo, who is a well-established English educator and researcher. He is well known among Indonesian universities with established English and English-education curriculums. (He’s written some books about ESL, you may find him interesting to look-up!)
Three other younger colleagues and I were interested in traveling over our Lunar New Year Holiday break, and Handoyo connected us to different universities on the island of Java for an English education workshop + sight-seeing combination trip.
What did the trip entail exactly?
Basically, four universities on Java hosted us for a few days each, taking care of housing/food/sight-seeing/transportation expenses in exchange for us giving presentations and workshops about various English and English-teaching topics. We were in Indonesia for a little over two weeks, and we visited four main universities, with a few side trips to middle schools. We started in West Java and moved by car and train to East Java, ending up in Bali.
What topics did you and your colleagues present on in the workshops?
Our presentation topics came about from our personal interests and knowledge bases, and what the universities wanted us to focus on. My topic was “English Activities: Supplemental Education.”
My presentation included talking about STU’s English Activity Program, which is a weekly schedule of wide-ranging activities for English students to participate in, to practice their English. I discussed the various benefits of having opportunities to practice and expand one’s English outside of the classroom, including the chance to incorporate various learning styles and topics catered to students’ unique interests.
My friends’ topics were voice and accent, public speaking, and debate in the classroom.
What else did you do during the trip?
Aside from the presentations at the universities, we also visited a few middle schools where we gave shortened presentations to the faculty, and then played and hung out with the middle schoolers (who were very excited to have the chance to talk with English-speaking foreigners).