I grew up in the Northeast region of the United States. I was born with an insatiable curiosity about the world, and from a young age, I was interested in meeting people with different backgrounds, listening to their stories, learning other languages, and most of all, travelling. When I was 10, travelling 100 km was the most exciting thing I could imagine, but a decade or so later, that turned into thousands of kilometers; I moved to the Southeast of the US for university, which was something of an intercultural experience, but evidently that wasn’t far enough, because I spent a year in France and Germany, studying and becoming proficient in the languages. Then, life brought a few twists and turns and I found myself living and working in a few other countries (South Korea, Madagascar, India, and Algeria), in addition to visiting around 30.
Throughout the past decade, I have been involved with international language and culture education, curriculum development, youth work, student advising, mediation, translation, editing, biography writing, educational broadcasting…just to name a few activities. I have worked in various capacities with students of all ages from 5 to 75, one-on-one to large groups, from non-literate people with no formal schooling to people with PhDs. I also have experience with developmentally delayed and autistic individuals as well as people with learning disabilities and social disorders. Along the way, in addition to my fluency in French and German, I gained proficiency in Spanish, as well as a very basic level in some other languages. As a teacher, I discovered that there are a few topics that particularly interest me: awareness, strategies, and lateral thinking.
When I was growing up, the majority of my friends were immigrants from other countries and from various ethnic groups in the US; through my many travels and experiences living in different cultures, I have spoken to and gotten to know people of myriad backgrounds, from cultures across the globe, from the east and the west, the global north and the global south; people of different sexualities and personality types, with different strengths and challenges, different shadow sides and secrets, political orientations and outlooks on life. Despite all this exposure to different folks, I have not lost my interest in people – quite the opposite! (Because each person has his or her own unique story and I never tire of listening to them!)
Sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of experiences before you start to recognize your own core strengths – the things you do excellently, naturally, and effortlessly. Such was the case for me. Eventually, through comments other people made, and from my own observations of my successes and my challenges, I became able to perceive my own core strengths. I am able to:
- establish rapport and connect with all kinds of people, even those with seemingly diametrically opposing beliefs and outlooks.
- truly listen to others, without jumping to conclusions and judging them.
- ask power questions that move one’s awareness from a superficial level, through deeper layers, to the underlying core of a situation.
- recognize connections between seemingly unrelated things, and perceive both the details and the big picture.
- see situations from many different viewpoints, and thus build bridges between different people and groups.
- see the humor, absurdity, and irony in countless life situations, even negative ones.
- see the (hidden) potential in things and the (unrecognized) strengths in people.
- adapt information appropriately so that my audience can understand it (for example, adapting learning content to meet the needs of learners).
- recognize patterns and synchronicity in life, and perceive the underlying significance and meaning.
- recognize that everything is context-dependent (meaning changes as the context changes).
As I mentioned, I am good at asking questions. And for many years, I had a number of very deep, important questions about the meaning of my own existence in this life. Several years ago, I spent a year in India, a country, as I put it, where you don’t leave as the same person you were when you arrived. While there, I experienced a sort of spiritual transformation, at which point I started to see how the various threads of my life fit together, and suddenly I understood a piece of the meaning of my story. From that point on, my entire outlook on life was different: I began to perceive every experience, every encounter, through a spiritual lens. Soon I discovered that I was able to help others establish a connection to the spiritual dimension in their lives.
As for my formal qualifications, because of my love for languages, I completed a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and linguistics, and after a few years of teaching, I decided to pursue a master’s in language education in order to professionalize my services. I have participated in myriad trainings in various approaches to human development, including NLP, hypnotherapy, past life regression, the Enneagram, and intercultural communication/conflict resolution. I am currently enrolled in a program in transpersonal consulting, that I chose in order to solidify my skills in helping others to develop.
A sampling of my experience to date:
- Nine years of experience teaching, advising, and coaching in the field of foreign languages, literacy, culture and communication
- Seven years of experience working internationally with diverse populations
- Fluency in French and German; advanced proficiency in Spanish
My Work Experience
|2007-2008, 2011-present:||As a self-employed English instructor in Magdeburg and Leipzig, Germany, I have worked for a wide range of clients, from business people at an international corporation to IT students at an institution of higher education, to elderly people in a community school, to unemployed people in a re-education program. I have edited academic articles for clients around the world, taught English to students by Skype, and translated articles and documents from German, French, and Spanish to English.|
|2012-2013:||As a university English instructor in Annaba, Algeria, I carried out a needs analysis and was able to identify a major obstacle: a lack of access to foreign language texts. In response, I created online e-learning environments for my students. In addition, I coached students on research skills, autonomous learning strategies, and computer/Internet literacy.|
|2010-2011:||As a senior culture and communication specialist at an IT call center in Bangalore, India, I evaluated IT professionals’ telephone and email customer service interactions and conducted one-on-one coaching and group training sessions on written and spoken communication. I was also in the local chapter of Toastmasters.|
|2009-2010:||I worked in two community organizations in the Boston, MA, USA area, where I taught ESL, literacy, and numeracy to immigrants and carried out curriculum development as well as student assessment & placement. I was involved with a project in which I guided students in writing and editing autobiographical memoirs. During this year, I was a residence director at a house with gifted teenagers from historically disadvantaged populations living away from home to attend a prestigious school. In this capacity, I was concerned with counseling the teens on scholastic and life concerns, and with planning extracurricular enrichment activities and excursions.|
|2008-2009:||As a Peace Corps volunteer in Antalaha, Madagascar, I taught EFL and German to very large groups (85 middle-school students). I also was involved with education in a leper colony and I mentored local high school students in developing a weekly English language radio broadcast.|
|2006-2007:||In Seongnam and Cheonan, South Korea, I taught EFL to primary school children, university students, and employees at a major corporation. I counseled students on study and work in English speaking countries. I used games, art, theatre, and music as vehicles for language instruction.|
|2002-2006:||In Greensboro, NC, USA, I collaborated in developing and implementing training sessions for community organization volunteers. I informed domestic and international students on study-abroad planning issues, composed and edited a monthly newsletter, and maintained a website for an international programs center. I then taught French and German to American high school students and supervised four tutors in an after-school literacy program for children.|
My Education and Training
|2013-present||Program in Transpersonal Consulting, Institute of Transpersonal Development (Spain)|
|2011||Training in Neuro-linguistic Programming, Past Life Regression, and Hypnotherapy, Basix Center for Human Excellence (India)|
|2009-2010||Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, SIT Graduate Institute (USA). Coursework included: Approaches to Language Teaching, Curriculum Design and Assessment, Intercultural Communication for Language Teachers, Language Analysis for Lesson Planning, English Applied Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition. Thesis title: 'Attempting to analyse (language) awareness: a foray into the realm of people’s perceptions of, attitudes towards and conceptions about language'. Conference presentation: 'Developing language detectives: The language awareness movement'|
|2000-2004||Bachelor of Arts in French, German, and Linguistics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (USA)|