Olivia joined LLI’s team as the English Program Manager in May of this year. She’s done a great job taking the reigns from our previous manager, Keeley, and has kept the positive momentum for the program going!
Olivia joins our team from suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but prior to LLI, she spent time teaching at the U.S./Mexican border in Texas and in Quito, Ecuador. She has a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Triple Literacy Studies with an emphasis in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of Texas in Arlington. Needless to say, she’s a great asset to LLI.
She’s a pretty amazing person and is worth getting to know… so check it out the Q&A below:
A: Before arriving to Peru, I worked as a high school teacher in the United States. I student taught in the inner city in Harrisburg, PA, which ignited in me a fire to ensure that every child receives a quality education. This passion brought me to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where I discovered an entirely different part of the USA that nobody could quite understand unless they lived, worked, and interacted with the people there. As difficult as it was to leave my students on the border, I knew that I needed a better grasp on the Spanish language if I wanted to make a difference in the lives of Spanish-speakers in my country. A near-majority in the US, Spanish-speakers have the ability to change the world due to their bilingualism, yet this potential is limited due to inequalities in education. I moved to Ecuador to get my TESOL certification after leaving the border, and working with students in Ecuador, I realized even more that I didn’t know about serving all demographics of students. I suppose, overall, I am learning that I still have a lot to learn. To me, this understanding is incredibly encouraging, because as a teacher, I never want to believe that I know it all and have every answer. If that is the case, then I will have forgotten that being a teacher goes hand-in-hand with being a life-long learner. I never want my students to stop learning, so why should I?
Well, just working with people who possess the passion of teaching is appealing to me. Educators are a funny group of people, and I have found that the longer one is in this field, the harder it is to find people still committed to closing achievement gaps and providing a quality education for every child. How terrifying is that – a teacher who has lost his/her love of the job?! With this position, I will be meeting people new to teaching, but who are voluntarily taking on the challenge. These are young people who are choosing to travel to Peru and devote all of their energy to education. You can’t get more of a passion toward teaching than that! I am looking forward to capitalizing on that energy and hope, trying to support them in anyway I can so that they don’t lose that spark of optimism. They’re an inspiration!
The country is absolutely beautiful. I’m enjoying simply sitting in a bus and gazing out the window, to be honest. But, I am also loving the relationships I am building with people in Peru. Similar to Ecuadorians, I find that Peruvians are so quick to ask me questions about my life and help me practice my Spanish. This kind of interaction with people never ceases to amaze me, and I consider myself lucky to get the chance to interact with people from all walks of life. Plus, with my limited Spanish speaking abilities, yet strong listening skills, I am hearing some unbelievable stories from people who lead incredible lives.