By José Villa, Senior Editor
Hawaii Hispanic News
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Once again, Hawaii Pacific University has applied for a U.S. Department of State grant to host a Summer Institute for English Language Educators.
And, for the third time in a row, HPU’s application was approved at the highest levels in the nation. From June 4 to July 5, the university hosted 26 educators from 21 different
Dr. Carlos Juárez, HPU professor of Political Science and Honorary Peruvian Consul, is the principal investigator for the grant project. Thanks to him, HPU has received $1.97 million in funding for this project since 2008. Juárez arranged interviews for me with the five participants from Latin America: Alvaro Del Castillo Alba (Bolivia); Claudia Muñoz Moreno (Bolivia); Barbara Duqueviz (Brazil); María Eugenia Rodríguez (El Salvador); and Juan Carlos Camps from (Paraguay).
What is the purpose of your coming here to HPU?
Rodríguez said: “We are a group of 26 professionals that are English professors and we also train docents. The primary purpose of our participation in this program is to improve our proficiency both in the English language, as well as for us to better understand the culture and how it affects the language. We also welcome this opportunity to learn new teaching techniques and review new teaching materials.”
Is their current level of English proficiency sufficient to make them feel comfortable here?
Camps responded: “We are not only comfortable, we’re wa-a-y p a s t comfortable and
don’t want to leave Hawaii!”
Alba said: “We’ve found not only that our English proficiency is sufficient to make us
comfortable here, but, more importantly, it has allowed us to participate in this extraordinary intercultural experience. There are 26 individuals here from 21 nations around the globe. One thing we have in common is that we all speak English. That has allowed us to get to know each other one-on-one in spite of our geographical barriers.”
How were they selected to participate in this program?
Moreno responded: “This prestigious and competitive program is coordinated by our individual countries’ embassies and the U.S. State Department. In my case, my supervisor recommended me for the program. I submitted all the required information,
which was reviewed thoroughly, and I was fortunate enough to have been selected.”
How do they like Hawaii?
Camp said: “We love it! It’s not what we expected. I thought it would be more of a ‘anythinggoes’ experience on the beaches with drinking and wild abandonment. I was surprised to find out that drinking is not allowed and the beach rules are strictly enforced. I think they’ve a really great place for families, but maybe not so much for the wilder, single crowd.”
Rodríguez added: “One of things we’ve really enjoyed in this program is that has an excellent balance of academic instruction techniques and language materials review, but also includes a substantial amount of cultural activities.
These have been both internal and external to the program. We have been able to share and compare our individual programs with those of our new friends here from around the world.”
Alva continued: “For me, one of the significant facets has been that all 26 participants – regardless of where they live – speak English. In my mind, this sharing experience reaffirms the universality of the English language. We’ve been able to come to a country
where English is the primary language and hold our own. Even though in Hawaii has its own ‘English.’ (Group laughs).
How long had they been here:
Duqeviz said: “We’ve been here three weeks and leave next week. We will then go on to spend five days in Washington D.C. So our stay in Hawaii is almost over, but we’ve had the honor of spending time is such a prestigious institution of learning as Hawaii Pacific
University. We have been treated incredibly well, have learned a lot from HPU’s professionals, and, in truth, we could not have asked for a better experience.”
Moreno went on: “I can honestly say that we leave with mixed feelings. We, of course, miss our homes and our families, but we will treasure – and benefit from – this once-in-a-lifetime experience for the rest of our lives.