I always have trouble introducing myself because introductions so often rely on stating one’s vocation, and that’s something I just can’t pin down. I’ve done a million things, working in publishing houses, law firms, a university, an English language school, an airline, a factory, a doughnut shop . . . and I’ve studied a few things, too: social sciences, law, Reiki, acupressure, multimedia development, nonprofit administration, usability analysis. But really, I’m just a dog-loving race walker who would love nothing more than to win the lottery so that I could take classes and travel, especially in South America. Work has always been a way to make a living, and I’ve never found work that I love.
As for my project, I’m feeling a bit sheepish because the project is just starting and my role is still undefined. Nonetheless, I’ll move forward as I were clear on my tasks. In essence, the nonprofit where I work is designing training materials for in-person training of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) adjudicators who determine whether to confer refugee status on applicants. The education is around LGBTI applicants, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa; understanding their claims and experiences, their special needs, and how to talk to them. Most adjudicators are locals who may hold the same prejudices and assumptions as the surrounding community, and may not even have the vocabulary to speak respectfully with these applicants for refugee status.
My primary goal is to learn more about adult education and learning retention. My secret agenda is that anything I learn here could be applied to ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching if I end up moving to Latin America again – or, perhaps, even if I stay stateside and work with English language learners here. Beyond all that, I really do care about making the world a better place for LGBTI refugees.
One of my questions is “Where can I learn more about teaching adults?” It’s a priority because I have never had any training in this area, despite having been an ESL teacher. I suspect there are learning differences with adults who choose to be in a learning setting, but who are busy and distracted, may bring prior knowledge of the subject that could conflict with the new information, and may have goals that diverge from the assumed goals of the training. Additionally, their brains may be different, and some may have memory problems. They may even be healing from a concussion!
As to how to go about answering this, I think I need to start by spending more time online, where there is surely a plethora of information. If I’m wrong, I’d probably hit the library next – but I doubt that will be necessary. One area in particular to check out are the MOOC sites, where I may be able to find online lectures. Much more challenging than the source of information will be the time to explore it.
This feels plenty long for this post, so I’ll leave it here for now.