Born to immigrant parents and raised in the New York area, Gabriel Garbar has always been curious about other cultures. Earlier this year, he learned about Russian culture and education by helping Russian teachers and students improve their English skills.
Gabrielle Garbar was among 80 Americans who participated in the State Department’s Virtual Fellows and English Specialist Programs this year. The program he is involved in connects English teachers in the US with teachers and students in Russia. In 2022, more than 600 Americans have embarked on the same adventure with teachers and students from other countries.
Having already taught courses on four continents at the university and secondary levels, this professor wanted to take a “deeper look at another corner of the world while helping [ses] students to achieve their academic and professional goals.
At the end of this educational project, he said he enjoyed “working with some of the nicest and most sincere students” he has known in a long time.
This is one of many State Department programs that illustrate the US government’s commitment to promoting people-to-people contacts between its citizens and the citizens of other countries.
Meet two other Americans who participated in the same program as Gabriel Garbar this year.
From her home in Memphis, Tennessee—the birthplace of Elvis Presley and the barbecue—Alyssa Bulow admired her students: they constantly amazed her with “their dedication and the amount of work” they put in. So they advanced in English.
Alyssa Bulow has over ten years of teaching experience in institutions across the United States and bilingual programs in Asia, the Americas, and Eastern Europe.
Most of the faculty she trained taught full-time while conducting research.
“They were acutely aware of the utility of fluent English presentation for sharing their research with the global scientific community and never lost sight of their goals,” she noted. Alyssa Bulow is the director of the Memphis-based Connect Language Center, which offers English as a Second Language programs and teacher training.
She points out that one of her students in Russia is working in partnership with a local tribe in Siberia*. Together they organize environmental education days so that Russian students learn to take better care of nature and learn about their cultural heritage. “Russia is a huge and intriguing country,” she enthuses.
“Enthusiasm, dedication and a cooperative spirit” were the qualities that impressed Daniel Sloan in his Russian students, with whom he worked from his home in California.
Dan Sloan teaches business management courses at Simpson University in Redding, California, and has taught for nearly a decade in China and Southeast Asia.
“The lessons regularly produced moments of unanticipated cultural learning,” he says.
From the project in which he participated, he especially remembers “the transparency, authenticity and kindness of the Russian people.” Memories and lessons close to his heart.
Knowing another culture and another language brings great satisfaction, adds Dan, whose project focuses on American law and legal English.
“I got more than I gave when the Russian participants took the lessons further, revealing their empathy, humanity and cultural understanding,” he says.