ETA Spotlight: Mat Goldberg and Hannah Shannon

July 4th, 2017

Mat Goldberg (ETA 2014-17) and Hannah Shannon (ETA 2014-16 and current JET ALT) are joining forces to design a cross-cultural, leadership English camp for Korean and Japanese students this summer. Amid their busy schedules, they gave FKAR the inside scoop to the upcoming Korea Japan English Camp. Read on to learn about the inspiration, potential challenges, and more for the Camp!

Where did the inspiration for the Korea Japan English Camp come from?

Mat: The idea for the project first stemmed from visiting my friend, a Fulbright ETA in Thailand. It was fascinating meeting different students and recognizing the similarities and differences about school culture and English education. However, I was most surprised by the Thai students’ curiosity about Korean culture. Students drilled me about my favorite K-pop groups and loved sharing their knowledge of Korea. My friend was even more amazed, explaining her students rarely tried to communicate in English.  Moreover, the idea became truly realized after learning about how Thai and Malaysian ETAs collaborated and created a 4-day international English camp in Thailand bringing together students from two schools. I thought the idea was brilliant. Being abroad at the time only added to my passion as I recognized the Thai students’ genuine interest in cultural exchange. As a result, I became determined to try and replicate that program for my own students. I immediately knew I wanted Japanese students to participate in the camp as well because of the countries’ shared history and common interests.

 

What are the Korea Japan English Camp goals?

Mat: The goals are split into three pillars: English communication, Leadership development, and cross-cultural understanding. I like to explain these pillars with “can do” statements for the students.

So, for English, at the end of the camp students can: hold conversations in English about personal topics of interest; solve a problem in a small group using English communication; express ideas and opinions in English.

Leadership: At the end of camp students can: recognize their own leadership qualities and the strengths others can bring to a team, collaborate effectively towards a common goal, lead a small group in an activity; communicate within a small group to both express own thoughts and opinions, as well as listen to other’s thoughts and opinions; can give a presentation in front of others.

Cross-cultural: At the end of camp students can: explain about one or two aspects of the other countries culture; recognize the similarities and differences between cultures; think about their role in their local community, country, and as a global citizen; form and express opinions on global issues.

Beyond the formal goals of the camp I think Hannah and I both hope that all students and teachers create positive memories through the program and gain greater confidence in their own abilities and a more nuanced understanding of the world.

 

What are some challenges you foresee during the camp?

Hannah: There are many logistical and monetary challenges for this camp, and cultural differences is something that Mat and I both talk about at length.  But on the more personal end of things, getting the Japanese schools and BOE to engage with the camp has been very difficult and taxing. It is unheard of for the most part to have ALTs (Japanese ETAs) plan and execute such large projects, and the Japanese schools have been very hesitant as it is so new. I have needed to do a lot of reassuring, and have had to encourage Mat to cut back on some aspects of the camp because I did not think that the Japanese community would be flexible about some things. It has been a bit of an uphill battle to make this camp happen in Japan, and the tensions with North Korea have of course not helped at all. However, I have been very lucky that my school and the JTE’s (Japanese coteachers) have been incredibly supportive and helpful, and have talked at length with me about the camp and the decisions we are making, so they can better explain to both the BOE and other schools. I don’t think this would have been possible without Mr. Tsuji and Mr. Yamaguchi, two of my JTE’s, assisting in every way they can. Their knowledge on navigating Japan’s bureaucratic culture and their belief in me and Mat has really been what made this camp possible in Japan.

Mat: We recently just finished selecting our camp leader team. Hannah and I are both excited and proud to be working with such motivated and passionate teachers and leaders. Our team consists of 3 Fulbright ETAs, 2 ALTs, and 3 native language teachers (1 from Korea and 2 from Japan). I think one of the inevitable challenges I foresee with this team is communicating effectively despite our different cultural knowledge, geographic location, and vision and ideas for the camp. Despite these challenges, I am really excited to be working with this group. I believe together there is a lot of potential to create creative programming and engage in pedagogical exchange. Together I believe this team will enable each of us to develop as teachers and leaders.

 

These days you are in the planning stages of recruiting and students. What characteristics in students are you looking for?

Hannah: The most important quality I am looking for in my students is a commitment to try and communicate.  Many of my students simply give up and tell me they don’t know when they can’t think of how to exactly say something in English. So, I am looking for the students who instead try and find other ways of communicating, whether through body language, or a unique but nonetheless helpful turn of phrase. Second to this, I want students who want to engage in the international community in some way, whether it be in their future jobs, or simply by being a part of the foreign community. English skills are at the bottom of my list, though of course the student must be someone who has shown an interest in English before.

Mat: I echo Hannah’s thoughts. I would also add that I am taking into consideration students’ character and access to opportunities. I want my students to be able to represent my school and Korea well. Moreover, it’s not my intention to select the students with the best English but rather the students who I believe will grow and appreciate the experience the most.

 

Where did the inspiration for the Korea Japan English Camp come from?

Mat: The idea for the project first stemmed from visiting my friend, a Fulbright ETA in Thailand. It was fascinating meeting different students and recognizing the similarities and differences about school culture and English education. However, I was most surprised by the Thai students’ curiosity about Korean culture. Students drilled me about my favorite K-pop groups and loved sharing their knowledge of Korea. My friend was even more amazed, explaining her students rarely tried to communicate in English.  Moreover, the idea became truly realized after learning about how Thai and Malaysian ETAs collaborated and created a 4-day international English camp in Thailand bringing together students from two schools. I thought the idea was brilliant. Being abroad at the time only added to my passion as I recognized the Thai students’ genuine interest in cultural exchange. As a result, I became determined to try and replicate that program for my own students. I immediately knew I wanted Japanese students to participate in the camp as well because of the countries’ shared history and common interests.

 

What are the Korea Japan English Camp goals?

Mat: The goals are split into three pillars: English communication, Leadership development, and cross-cultural understanding. I like to explain these pillars with “can do” statements for the students.

So, for English, at the end of the camp students can: hold conversations in English about personal topics of interest; solve a problem in a small group using English communication; express ideas and opinions in English.

Leadership: At the end of camp students can: recognize their own leadership qualities and the strengths others can bring to a team, collaborate effectively towards a common goal, lead a small group in an activity; communicate within a small group to both express own thoughts and opinions, as well as listen to other’s thoughts and opinions; can give a presentation in front of others.

Cross-cultural: At the end of camp students can: explain about one or two aspects of the other countries culture; recognize the similarities and differences between cultures; think about their role in their local community, country, and as a global citizen; form and express opinions on global issues.

Beyond the formal goals of the camp I think Hannah and I both hope that all students and teachers create positive memories through the program and gain greater confidence in their own abilities and a more nuanced understanding of the world.

 

What are some challenges you foresee during the camp?

Hannah: There are many logistical and monetary challenges for this camp, and cultural differences is something that Mat and I both talk about at length.  But on the more personal end of things, getting the Japanese schools and BOE to engage with the camp has been very difficult and taxing. It is unheard of for the most part to have ALTs (Japanese ETAs) plan and execute such large projects, and the Japanese schools have been very hesitant as it is so new. I have needed to do a lot of reassuring, and have had to encourage Mat to cut back on some aspects of the camp because I did not think that the Japanese community would be flexible about some things. It has been a bit of an uphill battle to make this camp happen in Japan, and the tensions with North Korea have of course not helped at all. However, I have been very lucky that my school and the JTE’s (Japanese coteachers) have been incredibly supportive and helpful, and have talked at length with me about the camp and the decisions we are making, so they can better explain to both the BOE and other schools. I don’t think this would have been possible without Mr. Tsuji and Mr. Yamaguchi, two of my JTE’s, assisting in every way they can. Their knowledge on navigating Japan’s bureaucratic culture and their belief in me and Mat has really been what made this camp possible in Japan.

Mat: We recently just finished selecting our camp leader team. Hannah and I are both excited and proud to be working with such motivated and passionate teachers and leaders. Our team consists of 3 Fulbright ETAs, 2 ALTs, and 3 native language teachers (1 from Korea and 2 from Japan). I think one of the inevitable challenges I foresee with this team is communicating effectively despite our different cultural knowledge, geographic location, and vision and ideas for the camp. Despite these challenges, I am really excited to be working with this group. I believe together there is a lot of potential to create creative programming and engage in pedagogical exchange. Together I believe this team will enable each of us to develop as teachers and leaders.

 

These days you are in the planning stages of recruiting and students. What characteristics in students are you looking for?

Hannah: The most important quality I am looking for in my students is a commitment to try and communicate.  Many of my students simply give up and tell me they don’t know when they can’t think of how to exactly say something in English. So, I am looking for the students who instead try and find other ways of communicating, whether through body language, or a unique but nonetheless helpful turn of phrase. Second to this, I want students who want to engage in the international community in some way, whether it be in their future jobs, or simply by being a part of the foreign community. English skills are at the bottom of my list, though of course the student must be someone who has shown an interest in English before.

Mat: I echo Hannah’s thoughts. I would also add that I am taking into consideration students’ character and access to opportunities. I want my students to be able to represent my school and Korea well. Moreover, it’s not my intention to select the students with the best English but rather the students who I believe will grow and appreciate the experience the most.

 

What are you looking forward most for the camp?

Hannah: I think I’m looking forward to two things. First, getting the chance to see my students improve and develop as the camp goes on, and seeing their relationships with the Korean students develop as well. I’m also excited to see all the hard work of everyone involved come to fruition, and to get to see the team’s success.

Mat: I am really excited to see our vision become a reality. I am also really interested to see students go beyond their comfort zone and use English to establish friendships and get to know other students. And as this camp is my last project before returning to the US, I am really looking forward to being a part of this experience with my students and creating lasting memories together.

 

What advice do you have future ETAs who are interested in planning cross-cultural English camps?

Hannah: Start early. Plan a lot. And be prepared for a lot of things to be brought to you very suddenly and in need of immediate action. But mostly, do it because you are passionate about the project, so that no matter the struggle it feels worth it.

Mat: Don’t be afraid to try. Every idea may sound crazy at first.

Hannah: I think I’m looking forward to two things. First, getting the chance to see my students improve and develop as the camp goes on, and seeing their relationships with the Korean students develop as well. I’m also excited to see all the hard work of everyone involved come to fruition, and to get to see the team’s success.

Mat: I am really excited to see our vision become a reality. I am also really interested to see students go beyond their comfort zone and use English to establish friendships and get to know other students. And as this camp is my last project before returning to the US, I am really looking forward to being a part of this experience with my students and creating lasting memories together.

 

What advice do you have future ETAs who are interested in planning cross-cultural English camps?

Hannah: Start early. Plan a lot. And be prepared for a lot of things to be brought to you very suddenly and in need of immediate action. But mostly, do it because you are passionate about the project, so that no matter the struggle it feels worth it.

Mat: Don’t be afraid to try. Every idea may sound crazy at first.

Related Post