English Teaching Assistantship


Material Information

English Teaching Assistantship
Physical Description:
Grant Proposal
Posada, Peter
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:


General Note:
Submitted as part of application for U.S. Student Fulbright Program 2011-12

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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Full Text

Peter Posada, Spain (Valencia), English Teaching Assistantship
Each time one leaves the comfort of their home country, be it for a week or for a year,
one automatically assumes an implicit duty, voluntarily or not. Every interaction with a foreign
citizen signifies a crucial step in building the "mutual understanding" emphasized by Senator
Fulbright; therefore, every American abroad serves as an informal ambassador for the United
States. This responsibility is one I have actively embraced in my three previous extended stays
abroad, and the task of overcoming potentially unfavorable stereotypes while engaging in
cultural diffusion has remained a personal goal of mine when interacting with members of other
nations. I am ready to build on my collective experiences by reaching out to a new community,
and I feel sufficiently prepared make a lasting positive impact in Valencia.
In going from virtually no Spanish exposure to fluency, I believe my own language
learning experience will serve as an asset as a potential English Teaching Assistant. The process
of 'starting from scratch' to become proficient in a second language has enhanced my
understanding of the structure and nuances of English, and I will be able to adequately empathize
and convey abstract linguistic concepts effectively because of that experience. Given the great
deal of personal fulfillment and satisfaction I have received from in my own study and
immersion into Latin American cultures, thus it only seems fitting that I aspire to provoke similar
enlightenments in individuals I meet abroad. Perhaps this passion is rooted in my paternal
grandparents' difficulty as Cuban refugees in trying to integrate and feeling 'at home' in
American society, but I feel very strongly about the importance of building cross-cultural
exchange. It was under this motivation that I immersed myself in the cultures of hispanophone
countries in North, Central, and South America, yet I believe there is a great deal of cultural
value to be added to my collective understanding in Spain. In particular, I selected Valencia
because it presents the chance to integrate into a unique variation of the language, culture, and
heritage of Spain and specifically provides the chance to work at the elementary level, to which I
have concentrated the majority of my volunteer service endeavors. I've had the opportunity to
volunteer at the pediatric and neo-natal intensive care units at Cuban hospitals and teach English
in elementary schools during my respective time in Mexico and Peru, thus I feel capable and
experienced with the characteristics of the age group. Thus, youth education is a field into which
I have already invested a great deal of energy but hope to continue to pursue in the future.
Moreover, during the summer prior to my potential assistantship, I expect to undergo TEFL
certification and be fully prepared and devoted to encouraging a deeper and more widespread
understanding of the United States and the English language.
A year of immersion in Valencia would serve as the capstone to culminate the breadth of
my experiences in the Spanish-speaking world; perhaps more importantly, it would allow me to
make a positive impact on American relations abroad by constructing lasting cultural links
within the Valencian community and invoking exchange through means beyond mere language.
For instance, initiating and coaching in a youth basketball league (as I did in Mexico) would
foster both fun and communication through the universal language of sport. Clearly the ETA
program entails much more than can be encompassed in the classroom, and I plan to evoke
cultural aspects from home that will serve as crucial supplements to a successful English-
learning environment.

Peter Posada, Spain (Valencia), English Teaching Assistantship
As the outstretched finger glided in my direction I winced in anticipation of the verbal
abuse I had so quickly grown accustomed to. "And the norteamericanos have ensured that we do
not receive the primary goods we need to survive!" the professor shouted in my direction. The
mass of students glared at the lone American in the comer, the physical embodiment of the evils
of capitalism and neo-imperialism. Less than fifty minutes into my first lecture in Applied
Economics at the University of Havana and I was already taking heat for a fifty-year U.S.
embargo policy lacking my assent and far beyond my control.
Ironically, it used to be the first half of the designation 'Cuban-American' that I had
trouble identifying with during my early years in Detroit. Granted, I'd heard the second-hand
stories tossed about between my father and his brothers regarding their stealthy escape from the
island. I even came to share in my grandma's nostalgia of 1950s Havana, and always wondered
why conversation became hushed and serious whenever Castro was mentioned. But I admit, I
couldn't overcome feeling like an imposter because I had never truly known life in Cuba; it was
like calling myself a pianist without ever having played a key. At a personal level, then, the
return to my fatherland signified a time for maturity and self-reflection; for my generation, the
children of refugees, it represented a birthright granted to very few.
Aside from retracing my paternal heritage, my most poignant and profound
enlightenment came in reconciling the ideals and principles of Marxist economic theory
preached so vehemently by proponents of the Revolution with the somber realities of Cuban life.
Decaying inner-city walls are scrawled with graffiti touting maxims from the Communist
Manifesto and the rewards of socialist brotherhood; meanwhile, all things capitalist are
condemned with religious fervor as immoral and traitorous. Yet even the most inspiring rhetoric
could not alleviate the struggle each Cuban and I dealt with on a daily basis as we waited in
seemingly endless lines for rations, experienced weekly power and water shortages, and
remained powerless to affect any change due to lack of political freedoms. After a half-century
experiment, the Cuban economic model designed by former longtime head of state Fidel Castro
may be, by the leader's own recent admission, ineffective.
The discrepancy between political models and real-world applications is an inevitable
source of frustration, and serves as the very reason I have opted for a combination of political
science and economics concentrations in my current studies. Yet in spite of these personal
academic interests, education is the area that has appealed to me as a career track since my first
day as an assistant English teacher in Guanajuato, Mexico in the summer following my freshman
year of college. The fulfillment in cultivating daily English language progression and in opening
the proverbial doors of opportunity to underprivileged Mexican children served as a defining
experience in my life, and has motivated my pursuit of similar future endeavors. Language
education in particular remains crucial not only because it allows for the overcoming of cross-
cultural barriers at an international level, but also because of the increasing domestic need for
bilingualism domestically amongst immigrants (particularly in my home state of Florida). The
United States represents the archetype of a 'cultural melting pot' because it continues to be so
conducive to the incorporation of (and exchange between) different ethnic groups. Thus, in a
way, serving as an English and Spanish language educator upon returning from abroad will allow
me to do my small part in helping to maintain and promote the same kinship afforded to my
father nearly a half-century ago a fitting career path indeed.