Stephanie Sheffield FIU ’10 Graduate is serving in Santa Marta, Colombia, a coastal city flanked by beautiful beaches and the Sierra Nevada mountains. She arrived in August of last year for her assignment, Teaching English for Livelihoods (TEFL) project.
ColombiaThe TEFL project supports the training of Colombian primary and secondary teachers in improving their English as a foreign language teaching abilities through co-teaching, co-planning, workshops and one-on-one tutoring with volunteers. Sheffield works with both English and non-English teachers to improve their spoken and written English skills.
Ultimately, the project allows for the development of bilingual community activities, giving young Colombians the tools to become competitive workers in different fields, especially the hospitality and tourism industry. Sheffield feels Santa Marta has the potential to be a major tourist destination if the community becomes more proficient in English.
“FIU helped me become a great teacher,” said Sheffield, who majored in Spanish and minored in education. “In turn, it has helped me become an awesome Peace Corps volunteer. I feel that I have a lot of tools to offer the English teachers here in Colombia that I learned from FIU.”
In addition to teaching English, Sheffield serves as a resource, educating community members on nutrition, wellness and sexual health. She hosts girls’ camps, English clubs for local children and bilingual forums. She also organizes a weekly event called “Spanglish” where university students come to practice English with her and other Peace Corps volunteers.
“Spanglish is probably my favorite,” she said. “It has grown to be pretty big, and we’ve been able to help a lot of college students and young professionals increase their English proficiency and become more comfortable speaking English. Many of them are studying fields that would benefit greatly from more English speakers such as hospitality, tourism and international relations.”
Sheffield plans to return to the States for graduate school after her service ends.
“I love education,” she said. “I want to see what I can do on a global scale to help people get quality education.”