Molly Arevalo| Spotlight

A summer in Uruguay for Cal State L.A.’s Fulbright teacher

Molly Arevalo at Casa Pueblo in Punte Del Este

Molly Arevalo—who is currently enrolled in Cal State L.A.’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) graduate program—spent a month this summer in Uruguay, a country located in the southeastern part of South America.

As part of the 2008 Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, Arevalo gave presentations about the U.S. to Uruguayan students, worked with elementary school teachers there to share best practices and resources, presented workshops on effective strategies, participated in conferences, and learned about their bilingual programs.

The Uruguay-Fulbright award covered Arevalo’s hotel accommodations, airfare, living expenses, educational materials and related activities, and supplemental health insurance.

Arevalo says, “I was struck by how creative Uruguayan teachers have to be. Because they have few financial resources, they must make do with the little they have. It made me realize how lucky we are, even in public schools in low-income areas, to be able to have new furniture, white boards, unlimited paper and photocopies, and walls filled with instructional aids. The Fulbright Commission generously gave us $500 each to purchase educational resources for the schools, which were greatly appreciated.

“Also, Uruguayan students showed an impressive understanding and curiosity about the rest of the world. As a small country of approximately 3 million people, Uruguayans know much more about the rest of the world than the rest of the world knows about Uruguay.”

Molly Arevalo at rural school

Arevalo began attending Cal State L.A. as a graduate student in fall 2006, and earned her master’s degree in bilingual/multicultural education in spring 2008. She then decided to transition into a career in adult ESL (English as a Second Language) education, and is currently working on a second master’s degree in TESOL.

She attended Boylan Catholic Central High School in Rockford, IL, and received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with honors from UC Santa Cruz. After living in Chile for a year and working as a paralegal in Chicago for two years, she joined Teach For America (TFA), an organization working to create a movement to eliminate educational inequity. Through TFA, Arevalo taught bilingual second grade for two years on the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas.

Arevalo, who speaks Spanish fluently, spent the last five years as a bilingual fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program is designed to create strong linkages among participants and communities, to promote innovative ideas in teaching and programs, and to ensure a long-lasting impact on participating schools both in Uruguay and the United States.

Since 1946, the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program has helped nearly 23,000 teachers and administrators contribute to mutual understanding between the United States and countries around the world.

“I have been very pleased with the quality of professors at Cal State L.A., who truly have students’ best interests at heart. In particular, Dr. Ann Snow, with her extensive expertise in content-based instruction and work with English teachers worldwide, has inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in TESOL.” – Molly Arevalo

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