Stockton Welcomes 21 Teachers from Panama
Galloway, NJ _ Mayra Espinosa wants her elementary school students in Panama to learn English.
That’s why she is among 21 teachers from Panama who will spend eight weeks at Stockton University studying English, teaching methods, and technology in the classroom.
“It is much easier to learn a language if students start when they are younger,” Espinosa said through interpreter Yibin Feng, an international student advisor at Stockton. “Knowing English will make them more competitive in the labor market and business.”
In July, Stockton president Harvey Kesselman traveled to Panama to visit with officials and learn about the government’s Panama Bilingue Initiative to train 10,000 Panamanian teachers in English and in the latest teaching methods. The goal is to improve public education and economic development in the country by increasing the English fluency of its citizens.
Stockton was approved by the Panamanian government to offer the training, and will also develop opportunities for Stockton students to study in Panama.
The teachers arrived on Jan. 15 and are staying at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, where the staff has adapted the menu to include traditional items including empanadas and rice and beans. Students said the food has been “delicioso.”
On Jan. 19 Stockton hosted a welcome luncheon at which the teachers, some wearing traditional dress, presented small gifts to Stockton officials. President Harvey Kesselman gave each teacher a Stockton pin and they presented him with a plaque, gifts and a Panama flag pin.
“This is a very important program for Stockton,” Kesselman said. “A major initiative here is global engagement. We value what you bring to us and we want you to immerse yourselves with our students.”
Their visit will also include weekend trips to New York and Philadelphia.
Provost Lori Vermeulen said learning another language and culture is a gift that keeps on giving.
“This program is critical to the growth of the economy of Panama,” she said. She said Stockton wants to play an active role in helping the country meet its 10,000-teacher goal.
After lunch that included fried plantains and churros, students gave out small coconut candies called cocadas, which they made in the Seaview kitchen. Teachers Yarelis Gonzalez and Olmedo Ortega performed a traditional dance.
Media interested in attending a class or interviewing the teachers can contact Stockton News and Media Relations Director Diane D’Amico. A farewell luncheon is scheduled for 12 p.m. March 9.
View a gallery of photos from the luncheon on flickr.
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Director of News and Media Relations
Galloway, N.J. 08205