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State Department Selects Caroline Purcell for Teaching Fellowship

Katherine Stohlman, C'19

The U.S. Department of State has selected Caroline Purcell, ESL program coordinator and instructor at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, for a 10-month fellowship project teaching English and developing curricula in Palestine at An-Najah National University (ANNU). Purcell is one of only 200 U.S. citizens selected for the 2022-2023 English Language Fellow Program.

caroline-purcell-452.452-in-text.jpgPurcell has taught English to speakers of other languages for over 15 years. Additional duties in Palestine will include conducting professional development workshops for ANNU teachers and supporting the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access), which “provides a foundation of English language skills to bright, economically disadvantaged students.”

A native of Hampstead, Maryland, Purcell was motivated by the opportunity to explore a new side of TESOL and meet others in the profession. “When I learned about and began researching the English Language Fellow Program, I considered it to be a wonderful opportunity to not only teach English as an international language abroad but become part of a collaborative community of English language educators,” she noted. Purcell also has hopes to bring together her work in Palestine and at the Mount, by connecting her “honors class via Zoom at ANNU with one of [her] classes at the Mount that either focuses on Islamic studies or the relations between Palestine and Israel.”

Purcell will be taking a sabbatical from her position at the Seminary, leaving this month for Palestine and returning to the Mount next June. She is most looking forward to the “experience of teaching and living in Palestine—working with Palestinian youth, learning about Palestinian culture and the complex socio-political history of the region, and collaborating with and learning from the faculty at [ANNU]…exploring the towns where Jesus walked.”

 “Caroline is a very dedicated ESL instructor and coordinator of our program. It comes as no surprise that she would be only 1 of 200 selected for this prestigious fellowship,” shared Msgr. Andrew Baker, S.T.D., the Seminary’s rector.

The English Language Fellow Program is the premier opportunity for experienced teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) with funding provided by the U.S. government. Through projects developed by U.S. embassies in more than 80 countries, fellows work directly with local teachers, students, and educational professionals to improve the quality of English language instruction offered at prestigious universities and other academic institutions.

Since 1969, the English Language Fellow Program has sent thousands of TESOL scholars and educators abroad to promote English language learning, enhance English teaching capacity, and foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries through cultural exchange. On assignment, fellows teach English, conduct teacher training, develop resources, and organize events and conferences. These projects are challenging, and the teachers selected represent the best of the U.S. TESOL community. In return, the program provides professional development opportunities to help participants experience different cultures and build skills that can greatly enhance their TESOL careers back home.

English Language Fellows are counted among the more than 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fellow Program is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University.            

Katherine Stohlman, C'19