Thereza was a participant in a program created by the Partners Colorado chapter for individuals teaching English in Latin America. The program, called Teachers Readiness Improvement Pedagogy (TRIP), is a partnership with Aims Community College and includes a month of classes as well as a calendar of activities that help the group of teachers embrace the local culture.
The eleven teachers who were selected for TRIP teach in a variety of school settings, including both public and private institutions and classes of youth and adults.
This year’s participants, 10 from Brazil and one from Argentina, spanned in age from 24 to 64. They took classes at Aims Monday through Thursday, which included subjects such as listening and speaking and strategies for implementing technology in the classroom. The instructors also emphasized how to engage English students through projects rather than simply lectures, which Thereza looks forward to teaching his students in Brazil.
“If Partners of the Americas had like 50 positions to come I would say they would probably have 50 English teachers coming because we really need some help,” Thereza said.
While students begin learning English at the elementary level in Brazilian public schools, the classes usually focus on grammar and don’t provide students with much opportunity to practice speaking, Thereza said. To improve the country’s English education there needs to be a shift in teaching strategies.
“I want to show my students how they can work with project-based learning in their own practice, and that’s what I’m very excited to try when I go back there,” Thereza said.
Alcides Hermes Thereza Jr. takes a selfie with his hosts Mike and Nancy Usher at a lake.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the program for the visiting participants and the Colorado chapter is that the teachers live with two different host families, spending two weeks in each home. The ordinary, daily moments with their Partners hosts can be some of the most important for making TRIP as meaningful as it is, said Betty Brown, the secretary of the Colorado chapter who was heavily involved in planning TRIP and who hosted a participant in her own home.
Thereza loved attending his first baseball game with one of his host families. Other highlights included a production of My Fair Lady and a discussion with the cast as well as a lake beach party. The program concluded with a graduation ceremony on July 27.
“The community has, in so many ways, opened their hearts to this group,” Brown said.
This was the second time TRIP has hosted Brazilian teachers. The first occasion was in 2015 with four participants.
Thereza at the TRIP graduation ceremony with his other hosts, Co and Odete Van Herwaarden.
After the inaugural group, two chapter members who teach at colleges traveled to Brazil to teach seminars. The experience helped them better understand the country and what is needed to improve the education system, and they used that knowledge to help design the curriculum for this year’s group, Brown said.
As the TRIP participants prepared to return home, they were determined to keep in touch with each other.
“It’s our responsibility now to replicate not only what we learned but all the good things we’ve seen, especially how everyone involved in the process wanted to help so much and volunteer and share with us,” Thereza said.
He said that at the graduation celebration the participants told those involved with TRIP that they loved them.
“I don’t like using this word [love] very much unless it’s very meaningful to me,” Thereza said. “I really love everyone who I met here and provided me with this amazing experience.”