Assistant Director University of Florida English Language Institute What inspired you to work in this field? I was drawn to this field after an accumulation of experiences, including joining University of Iowa international graduate students at my uncle and aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, my own college study abroad in Honduras, and my first teaching job at a university in Chengdu, China.
These experiences inspired me to continue meeting and working with international students in higher education, primarily due to the deep joy I felt when meeting students and their families and discovering common bonds even when clumsily navigating through language barriers as we made tortillas or jiaozi and drank coffee or tea together. What an honor and privilege to meet and teach, and get to know families deeply!
What are the challenges you've faced? Professional identity. In academics, women experience microaggressions when we are required to establish our credibility and qualifications. Also challenging is that women in leadership are expected to be emotionally available and supportive, yet that support is generally lacking for ourselves.
Education field. Although women make up the majority in the international education field, we continue working to overcome differences in compensation and recognition.
ESL. We experience a lack of respect being “just teachers” in ESL, despite the dedication to service in the university community and in the international field. Regardless of our degrees, research experience, and 20 hours a week in a classroom serving international students, theoretical research is deemed more respectable at a university.
What do you hope to achieve in the future? Professionally, I hope to continue advocating for international education as a means for promoting diplomacy and global collaboration. I hope to continue connecting with our international colleagues who are committed to improving educational opportunities for the next generation of global problem-solvers.
Personally, I hope to continue working to improve the Intensive English Program (IEP) field through research, service, and teaching to make the U.S.A. the best destination for ESL and higher education.
If you can give 1 or 2 pieces of advice to our prospective international students, what would it be? Take advantage of every opportunity in the U.S. university community. There are so many campus groups and activities you can join based on your interests. Ask your roommates, your international center staff, and instructors how to find the list of clubs, groups, volunteer organizations, and sports at your school. Your involvement will provide English practice, a sense of belonging and making a difference, and lifelong friends.